Returning to the Lunar Environment Page 1
On July 21, 2011 the shuttle Atlantis returned to Earth. This was a significant date as not only forty-four years and one day earlier we first stepped onto the lunar surface (Apollo 11) but on July 21st we lost the ability to launch our own Astronats into space. I remember someone from the commercial sector said "...let NASA handle the hard stuff...we'll handle the easy stuff..." That remark was made for two areas that NASA representing our nation had been responsible for: supplying the International Space Station; and round trip transportation for our astronauts.
It is now December 2017 and for over six years we have been sending Russia literally millions of dollars to transport our Astronauts. The selected civilian sectors have not only received millions of dollars but all the technology for launch systems and human life support - and we still wait.
Obama became President in 2009. On April 15, 2010 he said "I understand that some believe we should attempt a return to the surface of the Moon first, as previously planned...but I just have to say prettly bluntly here. We've been there before... There's a lot more of space to explore, and a lot more to learn when we do. So I believe it's more important to ramp up our capabilities to reach and operate at a series of increasingly demanding targets while advancing our technological capabilities with each step forward. And that's what this strategy does. And that's how we ensure that our leadership in space is even stronger in this new century than it was in the last."
On June 28, 2010 Obama changed the National Space Policy of the United States of America (NSP). This action killed NASAs Constellation program that not only had a return to the Moon as an objective but the first manned lunar base. This policy removed the Moon as a U.S.A. manned space objective and set unrealistic targets to take place in later administrations.
In 2010 regardless of the existing Obama NSP and possibly behind the scenes international partners to the ISS began laying the framework to a project that would become known as GATEWAY. I will be talking about GATEWAY in greater detail later in following sections and an ambitious project between Bigelow Aerospace and Boeing.
Donald Trump was elected President and sworn into office on January 20, 2017. On March 21, 2017 Public Law 115-10 was created called the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Transition Authorization Act of 2017. This very important law destroyed Obamas faulty NSP of 2010. It is not known when President Trump will revise the NSP but it is a clearly stated requirement of office. On October 4, 2017 Vice President Mike Pence announced that President Trump had revived the National Space Council. On December 11, 2017 President Trump signed the Space Policy Directive 1.
We are returning to the lunar environment! There is potential of not only returning the the lunar surface but establishing a manned presence!
Manned launch hurdle - Currently the U.S.A. is still paying the Russians for transporting our astronauts. As shown on this page all Manned Crew Vehicles are behind initial schedules with the earliest one being SpaceX.
Lunar hurdles - There are three major hurdles other than life support that demand investigation and mitigation. Developing methods to address these hurdles will provide additional protections not only for space operations but long duration space travel. These hurdles are: radiation; managing lunar regolith "dust"; and mitigation of electrostatic charging.