Urgency in returning to the Moon at the earliest possible opportunity

It seems evident from the ESAS Report and other NASA plans, that NASA is determined to return humans to the Moon at the earliest possible opportunity. Almost all of NASA's efforts are aimed at designing vehicles and propulsion systems based on current capabilities, while development of advanced capabilities has been placed onto a side-track that might possibly contribute late in the campaign. It is particularly noteworthy that, after making a big point that use of LOX as an ascent propellant has the benefits of enabling the most near-term form of ISRU and creating a direct connection to Mars mission technology, NASA subsequently replaced the LOX/methane propulsion system with one that uses space-storable propellants, because of the cost and time required for development of the LOX/methane propulsion system. However, as noted in the previous section, with mass already a major problem for lunar missions, use of a less efficient space-storable propulsion system is likely to create all sorts of problems for lunar mission designers.

Aside from LOX/methane propulsion systems, it is more generally evident that Michael Griffin's plan is to assemble workable systems using currently available technology to put humans on the Moon at the earliest possible date. Plans for use of robotic precursors to prospect for resources, and validate capabilities, have been minimal. Finally, during early 2007 the entire robotic precursor program was scrapped.

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