SpaceNews reports that NASA’s plan to put a lunar gateway in orbit around the moon and get astronauts down to the surface in 2028 took quite a pounding from some members of the National Space Council’s Users’ Advisory Group during the body’s first meeting last week.
“Personally, I think 2028 for humans on the moon, that’s 10 years from now. It just seems like it’s so far off,” said former astronaut Eileen Collins. “We can do it sooner.”
“This comes across as having no sense of urgency,” said Harrison Schmitt, the Apollo 17 astronaut. “I think there should be a sense of urgency.” The pace of the proposed program, he said, didn’t match what took place under Apollo. “I think of launching Saturn 5s every two months and you’re barely going to launch them every two years,” he said of the Space Launch System.
“I’m quite opposed to the Gateway,” said Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin. Using the Gateway as a staging area for robotic or human missions to the lunar surface is “absurd,” he argued. “Why would you want to send a crew to an intermediate point in space, pick up a lander there and go down?”
“The architecture that has been put in play, putting a Gateway before boots on the moon, is, from a space system engineer’s point — which is the only thing in life I was ever good at —a stupid architecture,” [former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin] said, arguing instead to move “with all deliberate speed” to go back to the moon and access its resources. “Gateway is useful when, but not before, they’re manufacturing propellant on the moon and shipping it up to a depot in lunar orbit.”
Griffin raised the prospect of China landing astronauts on the moon before the United States gets there.
Aldrin said he favors Bob Zubrin’s Moon Direct plan for getting astronauts to the lunar surface quickly. Zubrin explains his plan in the video above.