Float This Out There

September 26, 2012  by Douglas Black enerficiency/ENERSPEC

Just a bit beyond the Dark Side of the Moon there is a point where and object, (insert SPACE STATION thought here), could effortlessly float in a lockstep orbit with Luna around Earth.  From there one could operate robotic mining drones or astronomical observers on the Moon, or launch probes to Asteroids.  Maybe even go to Mars.

According to a story in the Orlando Sentinel this week, documents obtained show that NASA wants to build a small outpost — likely with parts left over from the $100 billion International Space Station — at what’s known as the Earth-Moon Lagrange Point 2, a spot about 38,000 miles from the moon and 277,000 miles from Earth.

Lagrange points

Lagrange Points

 

There are actually several Lagrange points where gravitational pulls of the Earth and Moon intersect. The Lagrange 2 point is a location beyond moon where an object would hover steady state.

At 277,000 miles from Earth, says the Sentinel, the outpost would be far more remote than the current space station, which orbits a little more than 200 miles above Earth. The distance raises complex questions of how to protect astronauts from the radiation of deep space — and rescue them if something goes wrong.

It would be a task made for the Orion space capsule and the Space Launch System rocket, which are being developed at a cost of about $3 billion annually. It involves NASA’s international partners, as blueprints for the outpost suggest using a Russian-built module and components from Italy. And the outpost would represent a baby step toward NASA’s ultimate goal: human footprints on Mars.

The idea may seem like a stretch in this era of deficits and political finger pointing, but perhaps this deserves a hard look as a logical direction in expanding the reach of man.

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