NASA image of the moon's Orientale basin
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The moon's Orientale impact basin, evidence of its wilder days. Credit: NASA

Could NASA send robots to moon's surface following canceled lunar rover?

Contributed by
May 2, 2018

Dry those eyes, space nerds. Although the NASA lunar rover mission has been canceled, much to the dismay of space exploration enthusiasts everywhere, all is not lost. This aborted mission could lead to some very cool alternative options — including NASA possibly sending a bunch of robots to the moon’s surface.

That’s right, in light of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration calling it quits with designing and constructing Resource Prospector, its only planned lunar rover, a new piece from The Verge is noting that the private spaceflight industry could pick up the slack. 

Plus, NASA has hardly given up on going back to the moon. After all, its new administrator Jim Bridenstine recently said that the organization plans to send robots to the moon. Not only that, but NASA has also recently announced that it would solicit bids from commercial companies to provide rockets and small spacecraft that can take NASA payloads to the moon.

Originally, NASA was set to design and oversee the construction of the lunar rover, while a commercial company would provide the lander. Now, the commercial space industry could construct both pieces and still go ahead with the mission. “If NASA threw out the idea to the industry, the industry would come up with ways to do it,” Jim Muncy, founder of space policy consulting agency PoliSpace, told The Verge.

This could also free up some funds at NASA for other projects. After all, the Resource Prospector’s $250 million budget was not modest. Now, commercial companies could take on more of the development costs, while NASA could then pay the private industry for their services. Then, the private companies could have landers and rovers to sell to other customers.

Regardless of how this all plays out, it is a relief to see that both NASA and the private sector are still keen on going to the moon.

(Via The Verge)

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