Permanent Human Settlement of the Earth, Space and Ocean Frontiers

Monday, February 27, 2006

21st Century Moonship

It isn’t your father’s NASA anymore. After hanging out in low earth orbit for 34 years, the new NASA has decided to turn in the keys to the old shuttles and swap them out for a new fleet of spacecraft. Yesterday we talked about the new Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV). Today – we’ll review the new moonship.

Just like the new CRV looks a lot like the old Apollo capsule but isn’t – so the new moonship looks somewhat like the old lunar lander but isn’t!

The old lunar habitat (LEM) could take two astronauts down for less than a week. The new model will transport four down for up to six months. The same spacecraft – shown with the CEV attached – is expandable for a Mars flight and can take up to six astronauts to the red planet.

This time, it’s not going to be let’s go get out boots dusty and come home for three decades, either. We are planning to fly manned missions to the moon every six months. Further, the new generation of rockets will not limit our landing zones to the equator. We will now have full access to land anywhere on the lunar surface – even the poles.

The picture shown here shows the new moonship docked to the forward end of the CEV so the astronauts can transit back and forth between the two. When it arrives in lunar orbit, the four astronauts from the CEV will all move into the lander and it will land on the moon. After their mission, the upper stage of the vehicle will return them to the unmanned, orbiting CEV for the trip back home.

With so much high mass travel back and forth to the moon, the United States will soon have a permanent base established there as it is built piece by piece on every subsequent mission.

It’s a new NASA with a fresh face and a bold new plan. For some reason, 350 miles isn’t good enough anymore. Now we face new worlds. It’s about time.