NASA Cancels Its Only Moon Mission

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NASA is so devoted to lunar exploration that it's shutting down its moon rover. "More landers. More science". For much of that time, it stood out as one of the few lunar-focused missions at the agency, with NASA's attention devoted to the Asteroid Redirect Mission and long-term plans to send humans to Mars.

Clive Neal, professor of civil and environmental engineering and earth sciences at the University of Notre Dame and emeritus chair of the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group (LEAG), is available to comment on NASA's decision to cancel its Resource Prospector mission.

The Resource Prospector mission is NASA's only current moon mission, and was created to send a rover to the moon's polar regions to gather more information on water deposits on and just beneath the surface, reports. The physicist explained that initially the development of the lunar Rover was funded from the program of human flights into space, but then the project was handed over to the Department of scientific missions.

"This action is viewed with both incredulity and dismay by our community", particularly because Trump's space policy "directs NASA to go to the lunar surface", the letter said. The first of these missions, being developed by such companies as Moon Express and Astrobotic, are due to fly as early as 2019. To launch the Resource Prospector planned in 2022. "The political environment, I'll just say, was not as conducive as it is now to going to the moon", said Anthony Colaprete, Resource Prospector project scientist, in a presentation at the LEAG annual meeting last October. "We're just waiting to see where it falls out, organizationally speaking". The follow-on projects are created to build on progress by NASA so far.

NASA replied with a declaration posted on the Internet on Friday, according to which some of the devices on the recently-canceled vehicle's board will be used in another future mission, which will be developed for the same goal, namely, the Moon's surface exploration. These instruments will fly to the moon as part of the space agency's effort to help build commercial lunar landers of increasing size and complexity, leading eventually to the first landing of humans on the moon's surface since 1972.

"We are very excited about NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services program", Bob Richards, chief executive of Moon Express, said April 28.

Resource Prospector was created to be the first step in making use of valuable compounds buried within the Moon's rock, or regolith.

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