NASA recently shifted its focus for human space exploration, as confirmed by John Guidi, deputy director of the Advanced Exploration Systems division of NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate: "Mars is still important. It's still the long-term goal, but the near-term focus is more about our neighbor in cislunar space." In other words, we’re going back to the moon!
The Lunar Orbital Platform Gateway, or Gateway for short, is NASA’s proposed response to this new challenge. This “moon-station” will orbit the moon, be staffed with people and will be led by the same partners who have collaborated on the International Space Station (ISS): NASA, ESA, Roskosmos, JAXA, and CSA. The first module is planned to be launched in 2022 using an SLS rocket, and the station could get its first crew as early as 2026. Because the Gateway will be much farther from the Earth than ISS, it will serve as a jumping-off point for landers headed down to the lunar surface and for vehicles venturing out into deep space.
The project has received both praise and criticism from space professionals. Supporters applaud it as a valuable first step for human exploration in deep space, while opponents criticize it as not being ambitious enough and being too expensive.
We invited three space professionals (an engineer, an explorer, and an astronomer) to share their thoughts on the Gateway with us:
- Bruce Pittman, who has been the Chief System Engineer in the NASA Space Portal Office at the NASA Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley since 2005 and has supported the Space Technology Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, will describe the Gateway project and its goals and objectives in the framework of NASA.
- Dr. Pascal Lee, co-founder and chairman of the Mars Institute and a planetary scientist at the SETI Institute, will discuss the Gateway’s potential to advance human exploration of outer space, particularly Mars.
- Dr. Doug Caldwell, Kepler Instrument Scientist and Chair of the exoplanet group at the SETI Institute, will emphasize the use of the Gateway for scientific studies in fields as diverse as astronomy and medicine.
Advance registration recommended
Editor's Note: Due to the recent announcement concerning the end of the Kepler Space Telescope mission, this talk has been postponed. Instead a talk on Kepler will be given. See our listing.
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