Earlier this month, NASA chief Charlie Bolden visited the White House to pitch his agency’s plan for a permanent space station located some 38,000 miles beyond the moon. Positioned at the Earth-Moon Lagrange Point 2, a spot where the combined gravities of the Earth and moon create an equilibrium point, NASA engineers could keep the spacecraft positioned with a minimal amount of power. In another measure to save on costs, the body of the station would be constructed from parts left over from the International Space Station, as well as equipment provided by Russia and Italy.
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What’s the Big Idea?
The importance of a space station beyond Earth’s immediate orbit cannot be understated in our long-term goal of sending humans further and further into our solar system. “A human-tended station at EML-1 or EML-2 could help direct the robotic construction of habitats and factories on the moon, to be occupied at a later time by humans.” The station would also serve as an outpost and rendez-vous point from which future missions could be launched toward Mars and beyond. The billions of dollars required for the project, however, may make it a tough sell to government backers. NASA may find the budding private space industry more sympathetic.