WASHINGTON — NASA released a report April 2 outlining its long-term approach to lunar exploration that involves establishing a “base camp” at the south pole of the moon, but with few details about cost and schedule.
NASA prepared the report, “NASA’s Plan for Sustained Lunar Exploration and Development,” for the National Space Council at the request of Vice President Mike Pence at the council’s most recent meeting in August 2019. At that meeting, Pence requested a report “for sustainable lunar surface exploration and the development of crewed missions to Mars” delivered within 60 days.
The 13-page report, after discussing efforts leading up to a human return to the moon by 2024 on the Artemis 3 mission, describes the agency’s plans for subsequent missions. “After Artemis III, the overall plan is to conduct operations on and around the Moon that help prepare us for the mission durations and activities that we will experience during the first human mission to Mars, while also emplacing and building the infrastructure, systems, and robotic missions that can enable a sustained lunar surface presence,” the report states.
That will be achieved by creating what NASA calls the “Artemis Base Camp” at the south pole of the ...