New NASA leader faces an early test on his commitment to Moon landings
vendredi 27 avril 2018, 16:37 , par Ars Technica
Enlarge / A lightweight simulator version of NASA's Resource Prospector undergoes a mobility test in a regolith bin at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (credit: NASA)
There can be little question that new NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine wants humans to return to the Moon and to open Earth's celestial neighbor to commercial activity. Just check the lunar background of his new Twitter account or some of his writings on the subject. Soon, however, his commitment to the Moon will be tested.
On Thursday—just his third full day on the job—a group of lunar scientists, engineers, and mission planners sent Bridenstine a letter to complain about the cancellation of the Resource Prospector program. This mission would send a rover to the polar region of the Moon to look for, and study, ice deposits that scientists hypothesize are there. Advocates of lunar exploration say this source of water could provide propellant for exploration missions deeper into the Solar System.
In recent years, the existence of this water has become a key reason that NASA (and other national space agencies) have begun to formulate plans for the development of lunar resources. Indeed, when President Trump signed Space Policy Directive 1 last December, he redirected NASA back toward the Moon, including for the purposes of 'long-term exploration and utilization' of that sphere.
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