4 Astronauts May Spend 2 Weeks on Lunar Surface
Last week at the 2019 annual meeting of Lunar Exploration and Analysis Group (LEAG) NASA spokespersons casually mentioned a mission in the works that would have 4 astronauts spend 2 weeks on the surface of the moon. Currently the mission is unnamed but it is likely to occur near 2030. This announcement comes as a surprise to many. The current record for longest lunar excursion is Apollo 17’s 3 day stint.
NASA is already looking for possible landing sites near the South Pole where they believe frozen ice may be. Water on the Lunar surface is integral to long term survival on the moon.
NASA’s goal of a 2 week lunar excursion may seem lofty, but it serves a larger purpose. John Connelly spoke at the LEAG meeting, “We are going to do some testing for Mars on the moon, but we are also looking for a long term lunar surface presence.”
Although NASA is projecting a 2030 launch of this unmanned mission, it hinges on the Artemis mission timeline. Currently Artemis, which hopes to return Americans to the lunar surface by 2024, has been under budgetary scrutiny by congress. Any delay to Artemis will surely cause delay for this unnamed mission.
Kenneth Bowersox, head of NASA’s Human Exploration division, is understands what a timeline means. “There’s a lot of risk trying to make a date, but we want to try to do it.”