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Surprising Science

NASA Wants Space Colonization Outpost

As budget cuts hit NASA, the space agency will seek out international partners for a new manned mission that will take humans further into space than ever before.

What’s the Latest Development?

A study is underway to assess the feasibility of building a permanent outpost in space that could serve as an important midway point for future deep space missions. NASA is seeking international partners and commercial interest in building a station on the far side of the moon at a so-called Lagrangian point, where the combined gravitational pull of the Earth and moon would roughly balance each other. The mission would carry humans 15 percent further into space than the Apollo missions which landed men on the moon.

What’s the Big Idea?

The Lagranian point in question is the Earth-moon liberation point (there are three other points around Earth’s orbit), which would act like a parking spot for space vehicles. It could provide NASA a stable environment to develop and test new technologies designed to explore multiple destinations like “near-lunar space, asteroids, the moon, the moons of Mars and, ultimately, Mars itself,” say NASA officials. One important development that would result is a craft capable of shielding astronauts from solar radiation outside the Van Allen belts.

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