The next astronauts to work on the moon will likely live in larger
habitats and drive sporty new rovers capable of
two-week treks, NASA officials said Thursday.
Rather than assembling a lunar outpost over time from a multitude of
small, separately launched modules, NASA is now hoping
to land up to three large habitats on fewer flights to build a beachhead
on the moon, the space agency said.
Doug Cooke, NASA's deputy associate administrator for exploration
systems, said that the space agency's revised lunar plan
calls for the launching of larger habitats to the moon on unmanned cargo
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That way, the first new lunar astronauts could begin to reap science
rewards faster than if they had to haul smaller habitat
sections and hardware to the moon on each flight, then combine them into
a larger base to support long-duration expeditions.
"We want to get scientific return. We want to get information that will
help, potentially, space commerce and we want to get
international participation early," Cooke told reporters in a
teleconference. "All of these objectives we want to address as early
in the flights as we possibly can by getting the outpost up and running