NASA has finally unveiled some of their human spaceflight plans while NASA’s Space Launch System is currently under development. After scientists sent an initial flight for EM-1, the SLS is now bound to send components to build Deep Space Gateway. It has been years since NASA is promoting their Mars colonization journey and the significant role of SLS in all Mars missions.
The space agency claims that SLS plays a significant role in Mars human spaceflight
In the meantime, cislunar activities were also mentioned as being one of the first stages to prove important objectives. During a meeting of NASA’s chief of human spaceflight and NASA Advisory Council Human Exploration and Operations Committee, Bill Gerstenmaier, presented some of the activities which will be tested on the proving ground.
After the first launch of the SLS in the Block 1 configuration for Exploration Mission-1 which has been planned for the time span between 2018 and 2019, the spaceship will develop into a Block B design to launch the Europa Clipper and then the rest of the missions, from EM-1 and EM-8. The Block 1B version can deliver 105 metric tons to the orbit of our planet.
NASA offcials plan to deliver some components for Deep Space Gateway
In this way, the Block 1B will offer SLS the power to send co-manifested payloads in the ten metric ton range for when it will carry astronauts and a cargo of 41 metric tons. This additional capacity will be used to transport components of the Deep Space Gateway to the lunar vicinity. The first delivery was scheduled to be launched first on EM-2 in 2023, and it will carry a 40-kilowatt solar electric propulsion module.
After that, in a few years, several SLS launches per year would be settled to transport support and habitation modules to the Gateway. In the meantime, the facility would become an outpost capable of sustaining Red Planet missions. Bigelow Aerospace, one of the companies, has designed a test module docked to the International Space Station.
Their Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) was delivered to the ISS on April 8, 2016, aboard the SpaceX CRS-8 mission, being attached to the outpost for the next eight days. Even if they are not nominally inhabited, astronauts have entered BEAM to rehabilitate test data to send it back to Bigelow. In the meantime, Bigelow hopes to field the XBASE module to accomplish the NextSTEP initiative.
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