In the meantime, take a look at the op-ed piece that Alan Stern and Gerry Griffin penned for Space News. Here’s an excerpt:
We therefore urge an approach that obtains near-term results — i.e., human exploration beyond LEO — as quickly and as pragmatically as possible. In an era when budgets are shrinking, as are both public and political attention spans, we believe this course is a must for human space exploration in the United States.
Specifically, what does this course imply? It means two things:
- Establishing a commercial crew capability to LEO and the international space station as rapidly as possible, in order to expeditiously free up resources within the human spaceflight budget for exploration, rather than expensive Soyuz seats.
- Using the savings accrued by adopting commercial crew to jump-start human exploration beyond LEO before SLS is ready. This can be accomplished by developing orbital refueling for and then human-rating one or more existing rockets to carry out simple exploration missions — such as lunar/near-Earth object flybys and orbiters — using the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle or other crewed spacecraft that can be ready by mid-decade.
Studies we and others have been involved in over the past 18 months have shown that this kind of pragmatic approach is feasible.