Is NASA planning to deploy a robotic “miner” on the moon supported by a floating space station?

// November 9th, 2012 // Astronomy and Space News

Moon closeupRumors are spreading that NASA intends to deploy a robotic payload (“RESOLVE”)  in 2017 for the purpose of finding water sources on the Moon.  RESOLVE would be mounted on a robotic rover that moved about the moon searching for water sources and other useful materials, saving NASA the expense of transporting these heavy materials from Earth.  Rumors indicate this mission would be deployed as a commercial partnership.

In addition, the rumors further suggest that NASA may have secured funding to place a permanent manned outpost floating above the far side of the moon.  Earlier rumors, originating from a leaked NASA memo, hinted that NASA wanted to build a “human-tended waypoint” at Earth-Moon Lagrange Point 2 (EML-2): a point in space where balanced gravitational forces allow an object to remain in stationary orbit.  This base would serve as a stepping stone for deeper missions into space.  It appears as if the White House is supporting these plans.

According to The Verge:

“Space policy expert John Logsdon told Space.com that the White House is indeed interested in the idea, and had merely been “holding off announcing that until after the election.” In 2010, President Obama told the nation that we would send men to an asteroid for the first time, and then on to Mars by the mid-2030s.”

The Verge attempted to get confirmation from NASA but they would neither confirm nor deny the rumors.

“At present, NASA could only confirm that the Space Launch System’s first unmanned mission (Exploration Mission 1) is still slated for 2017 and a second manned mission (Exploration Mission 2) with a crew of four would likely occur in 2021, that astronauts would attempt to land on an asteroid by 2025, and arrive at Mars sometime in the 2030s. NASA did caution though, that there’s no current plan to land people on the Moon itself.  According to NASA, “Neither EM1 nor EM2 would put boots on the surface of the Moon.”

NASA didn’t deny putting a robotic rover on the moon though.

Sources: Space.com, The Verge, White House

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