Could NASA's next space station be on the far side of the moon?

Contributed by
Dec 16, 2012

The bright side to not knowing what exactly will come out of NASA next is hearing about all the ambitious ideas they're generating over there right now. Sure, some of them might never see the light of day, but that doesn't make them any less cool. Take this idea, in which the space agency could use a certain gravitational quirk on the far side of the moon to park a long-term space presence there.

According to a memo sent out earlier this month by William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for human exploration and operations at NASA, the agency is assembling a team to explore the possibility of setting up a "human-tended waypoint" at a specific location near the far side of the moon known as "Earth-moon libration point 2."

Libration points are spots in space where the gravitational pull of two objects (in this case, the Earth and the moon) balance each other out, creating a place where spacecraft can basically "park." That would mean that NASA wouldn't even have to build a full-fledged station at EML-2. They could just take a capsule (like the developing Orion craft) and park it at the point with a crew that could assist in new explorations of the moon's surface as well as other missions in deep space. If it works, NASA's even hoping the waypoint could have international implications for further space exploration.

We haven't ventured beyond low Earth orbit since Apollo 17 nearly 40 years ago. Right now NASA's trying to change that with a number of new possible missions, and this happens to be one of them. There's no telling whether it will happen, or when, but it's definitely NASA's time to dream big.

(via Space)