NASA's only moon rover just got canceled
- Author: Joey Payne Apr 30, 2018,
Apr 30, 2018, 1:11
The day before, the space exploration community was roiled by the news that the #Lunar Resource #Prospector, a long developed mission to send a rover to one of the moon's poles, had been canceled [VIDEO]. This at a time when the Trump administration shifted focus away from Mars and toward the Moon. "More landers. More science". "RP was the only polar lander-rover mission under development by NASA (in fact, by any nation, as all of the global missions to the lunar poles are static landers) and would have been ready for preliminary design review at the beginning of 2019". An interdisciplinary group that includes lunar scientists, called the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group, wrote new NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine to get the project back on track, as part of the human exploration program.
However, nothing in the update states explicitly that the decision to cancel the Lunar Resource Prospector has been reversed and that the mission will fly in 2022 as planned. Materials could also hold important clues about the moon and space, said the scientists. At the time, he said the most likely option for flying the mission would be to carry it on a commercial lander, rather than through an worldwide partnership.
The rover, which was being designed for lunar missions in the early 2020s, was killed as NASA revealed plans to cultivate "commercial partners" for moon exploration.
NASA has stopped the development of their only robotic vehicle that was touted to aid human exploration of the Moon.
NASA issued a statement further clarifying its plans. "We're just waiting to see where it falls out, organizationally speaking".
Several companies, including former competitors in the Google Lunar X Prize competition, have expressed an interest in working with NASA on launching payloads. But recently, Neal said, NASA moved to transfer the project to its Science Mission Directorate, which develops robotic missions for mainly research, rather than exploration, purposes. 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.
"NASA is developing an exploration strategy to meet its expanded lunar exploration objectives of the agency", the NASA declaration read.
"Our MX-9 lander system can deliver up to 500 kilograms to the lunar surface, and we've embedded Resource Prospector-class mission requirements into its design", he said.
The move has thereby astonished the scientists who have been working on the mission.