Washington: NASA is likely to announce new plans to send astronauts back to the Moon following the outcome of the US presidential elections, according to reports.
The space agency was serious about sending astronauts back to the Moon’s neighbourhood and will likely unveil its ambitious plans soon now that President Barack Obama has been re-elected, experts say.
The space agency has apparently been thinking about setting up a manned outpost beyond the Moon’s far side, both to establish a human presence in deep space and to build momentum towards a planned visit to an asteroid in 2025, the Space.com reported.
The new plans have probably already been cleared with the Obama Administration but were kept under wraps in case Republican candidate Mitt Romney had won presidential election
earlier this week, said space policy expert John Logsdon, a professor emeritus at George Washington University.
“NASA has been evolving its thinking, and its latest charts have inserted a new element of cislunar/lunar gateway/Earth-moon L2 sort of stuff into the plan,” Logsdon said.
“They’ve been holding off announcing that until after the election,” Logsdon added, noting that Romney had pledged to reassess and possibly revise NASA’s missions and direction.
NASA is also likely to be able to achieve these goals within the $17.7 billion budget that was outlined in the proposed 2013 federal budget, according to Logsdon.
“They’re not talking about plans that imply significant budget increases,” Logsdon added: “It gives a more focused use for SLS and Orion before an asteroid mission.”
Logsdon’s reports tie-in with comments made by NASA’s deputy chief Lori Garver at a conference in September.