American or Americans back to conquering the moon during his first term in office. This develops as the President has ordered the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
(NASA) to seriously study the option of sending a manned mission around the moon instead of an empty debut test flight of the agency's heavy-lift rocket with a late 2018 target launch.
The order of Trump marks a vast improvement and a faster, more ambitious take compared to the previous plan under former President Barack Obama where NASA was working on the heavy-lift Space Launch System rocket and Orion deep-space capsule with the objective of sending astronauts to rendezvous with an asteroid in the mid-2020s and to be followed by a human expedition to Mars only in the 2030s. Trump's instruction for a study tweaks Obama's plan by exploring whether a crew can already be added to an earlier test flight, in the process opening the possibility for an American's return to the moon.
NASA officials expressed gratitude for being asked to undertake the feasibility study. They find Trump's instructions as very encouraging and they do not feel like they are being pressured to fly the test mission with a crew onboard.
The study is President Trump's first major step in shaping his administration's vision for NASA. It will take approximately a month to complete the study. The study will establish what would be gained technically by making it a manned mission sooner than earlier scheduled. Engineers will be assessing hardware changes, schedule delays, additional costs and increased risks of flying a two-member crew on the first flight of the Space Launch System rocket, which is about four times bigger and more powerful than any current U.S. booster.
A NASA safety oversight panel said the agency must establish compelling reasons to adding crew to the test mission in order to justify the extra cost, risk to human life and schedule delays.
If eventually approved, the American astronauts would fly abound an Orion capsule, being developed by Lockheed Martin Corp., and will be expected to go around the moon during an eight to nine-day mission, similar to what the historic Apollo 8 crew made possible in 1968.