Sunday, June 03, 2007

An Idea for a Robotic Lunar Mission

RLV News points to a story by Mark Whittington in the Houston Chronicle about giving the MSFC Lunar Robotics Office a new mission, now that it no longer has the job of managing a large lunar lander project. The problem: as things currently stand, the Office will soon not have much to do, but will be kept open anyway, at a fairly large cost. There are various changes that could be made, and the one that Mark suggests is to create a Centennial Challenge - essentially a new twist on a "Lunar Lander Challenge II", managed by this Office, to give private industry an incentive to create a lunar lander mission that returns data specified by NASA.

There are a few comments in the RLV News post, including one by the manager of the current Centennial Challenges program, that are also important to read when considering this proposal.

Update: Also see the discussion on Space Politics.