NASA Scraps Lunar Rover That Would Determine How Well Humans Can Survive on the Moon

Friday, 27 April 2018 - 5:52PM
Space
Moon
NASA
Friday, 27 April 2018 - 5:52PM
NASA Scraps Lunar Rover That Would Determine How Well Humans Can Survive on the Moon
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NASA
Currently, NASA only has a handful of active technology on/orbiting the Moon, preferring to set their sights on Mars and other spots in our solar system.

But recently, NASA has has placed more focus on a return trip to our planet's biggest satellite, both because of White House pressure to see astronauts walking on the Moon again and because more long-term lunar projects could be a crucial stepping stone for further exploration of the solar system. 

So it's unusual that NASA has just canceled one of the few lunar missions currently in development, their Resource Prospector rover. As the name implies, the Resource Prospector would scavenge the Moon's surface to mine for materials, one of the first major off-world mining missions.

According to The Verge, citing physicist Phil Metzger who works on the Resource Prospector project, NASA is canceling the mission two years before it was supposed to launch. NASA then confirmed the cancellation, with Trump's recently appointed NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine declaring that parts planned for the rover will now be used in other missions instead.



After its launch in 2020, the rover would have mined the Moon for underground water, hydrogen, and other materials which could be used to make rocket fuel off-world to aid in astronauts' return trips to Earth, or to help them survive in more long-term settlements on the Moon or other off-world locations.

Currently, this was the only project designed to land something on the surface of the Moon. The only other major Moon mission, the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, is a planned space station that will exist in the Moon's orbit rather than on it's surface.

The space station, once completed sometime in the next decade, will allow for much easier manned trips to the Moon and will serve as a great jumping-off point for farther destinations like Mars. While the Resource Prospector would be less revolutionary, it still served a practical enough purpose that it's odd NASA for deem it unnecessary. 

So beyond the lunar space station, there don't seem to be any plans to land anything, manned or unmanned, back on the Moon right now. Unless any major announcements come from NASA soon, it might be worth assuming that the promises to return the Moon are fairly hollow.
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