Another message on space to Pres-elect Obama

What I'm posting to Obama's new site:

Create a NEW PATH INTO SPACE, challenging NASA to begin delivering robots, equipment and materials to the moon by the beginning of 2011, using the ARES I rocket. The robots *must* be controlled by human operators on Earth, creating tremenduous flexibility. The ultimate goal will be extraction and use of lunar resources to reduce the amount of material that must be launched from Earth in the future, slashing the cost of access to space.

Establish a "STEPPING STONE TO SPACE" program, in which any group - academic, commerical, or even private volunteers - will be able to purchase or obtain a grant of time using the lunar robots and equipment, or space on a robotic delivery to the moon. Announcing this early should get a lot of people excited, including small for-profit companies, if NASA establishes a series of prizes and contracts aimed at encouraging development of useful lunar capabilities.

Finally, begin AIMING FOR MARS - asking NASA to develop a plan for a mission to Mars *orbit* (cheaper, safer), from which a human crew would control a small army of robots on Mars' surface to search for life and to build an industrial capacity to support a future human base on Mars' surface. The same mission should have humans explore the small moons of Mars - both because they are interesting, and as a sop to those who are dismayed that humans won't go directly to Mars' surface, after getting so close.

Pay for these programs by deferring development of Ares V and the Altair lunar lander (both programs to be reviewed in 3 years, if the lunar program is going well). The team developing Altair should be challenged to quickly develop a robotic lunar lander. The lander must be designed to be easily disassembled for useful materials - no need for clever (expensive and time-consuming) engineering to maximize "payload" - the whole lander will be payload.


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