ISDC 2010: Affordable Moon Exploration Style

One topic that was widely discussed at the 2010 ISDC was NASA's new approach that puts more emphasis on commercial space, research and development, science missions, aeronautics, participatory exploration, technology demonstration missions, the Space Station, robotic precursor missions, and other facets of its portfolio. This was contrasted with other possible approaches like the NASA Program of Record and a focus on going directly to Mars.

One part of this discussion is NASA's plan for the Moon. There is a perception that NASA has forgotten the Moon. In contrast, NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver stated that NASA isn't abandoning the Moon, and she expects NASA to send astronauts there before the Program of Record could have done that.

A similar message was briefly mentioned at another ISDC talk. I only caught the later parts of the talk, since I was at another one on Spaceport America (I was really surprised how much work has already been done on that!), but I believe it was by Bruce Pittman. Here are my brief notes on that part of the talk:

We haven't stopped the Moon program. We do have plans to go back. First we will go back robotically. We have instruments that haven't been flown - for example, backup instruments from other missions, etc. We could get these ready cheaply. Could we hitch a ride on a Google Lunar X PRIZE team's mission? The idea of such a hitchhiker mission isn't official; it's just something NASA is looking into.

I'm not sure if he meant a prize mission or a later mission. One consideration is that the prize itself includes limits on government funding.

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