EML-2 Station: Possible Future For The American Space Program
NASA is said to be thoroughly considering a proposal to build a space station beyond the Moon that will act as a “gateway spacecraft” to explore the Moon, the asteroids and eventually as a staging post to launch a manned mission to Mars. A deep space habitat would be built from parts of the International Space Station (ISS) at Earth-Moon Lagrange 2 (EML-2) – a point in space 38,000 miles (61,000 km) on the far side of the Moon and 277,000 miles (446,000 km) from Earth. NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS), scheduled to fly in 2017, would be used to send the components to EML-2 in 2019, as well as the Orion spacecraft that would ferry cargo and crew to the outpost. Among the missions for the EML-2 station one could name asteroids exploration, robotic trips to the Moon with the first sample returns by 2022, and a manned mission to Mars. It must be taken into account, that because of the distance and travel times to and from Earth measuring in days, systems would require to be heavily automated and built to the highest degree of reliability. If the EML-2 station is approved, NASA will establish a manned outpost at a greater distance than humanity has ever traveled before after forty years of daring no farther than low Earth orbit.