The Exploration Systems Architecture Study – NASA’s chosen way to implement the Vision for Space Exploration

The Vision for Space Exploration: A Brief History (Part 3)

Posted on November 2, 2012 by Paul Spudis

In the second part of my series detailing the history of the Vision for Space Exploration (VSE), Sean O’Keefe had announced that his tenure as NASA Administrator was over and the search had begun for a new administrator. Despite the best efforts of many within and outside of the agency, the objectives and emphasis of the Vision had begun to drift. While the original concept and statement of goals had been clear and unambiguous, the VSE was re-invented by some as a Presidential declaration of an Apollo-style program to land humans on Mars. This deliberate misconstruction had the effect of subtly orienting the strategic direction away from long-term or permanent lunar surface activities toward a simple, minimalist series of “touch-and-go” missions at the Moon. In such a view, because there would be no significant long-term activities on the lunar surface, there would be no significant permanent cislunar space capability emplaced as a result. This operational template implied that eventually, when a human Mars mission was conducted, we would launch everything needed for that trip from Earth’s surface. As most estimates suggested at least one million pounds in LEO was needed for the fully fueled Mars spacecraft, the launch requirements would be formidable indeed.

Read More:The Vision for Space Exploration: A Brief History (Part 3) | Spudis Lunar Resources.

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