NASA officials are aiming to build a moon-orbiting spaceport to serve as a gateway for missions to Mars and the lunar surface – replacing an Obama administration plan to use an asteroid as a stepping stone for exploration, USA Today reported.
The agency has spent the past six years building a Space Launch System rocket, but has not provided much detail about how the SLS booster would be used for Mars exploration – until Tuesday when the agency's chief of human spaceflight, Bill Gerstenmaier, briefed the agency's advisory council on tentative plans for the first dozen launches of the rocket, Ars Technica reported.
Dubbed Deep Space Gateway, the new program would build a mini space station that would be equipped with a small habitat for astronauts, docking capability, an airlock, and would be serviced by logistics modules to enable research, USA Today reported.
"I envision different partners, both international and commercial, contributing to the gateway and using it in a variety of ways with a system that can move to different orbits to enable a variety of missions," Gerstenmaier said in a news release, USA Today reported.
USA Today reported the new program makes no mention of an Obama administration asteroid plan for travel to Mars; President Donald Trump's 2018 budget cancels the Asteroid Redirect Mission, USA Today reported.
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