NASA updates Orion spacecraft’s upcoming missions near the Moon

There’s still a lot to learn about the Moon, before we start exploring Mars. NASA’s Vanessa Wyche said they’ll do testing on the moon's surface and then move on to Mars.

“There are lots of people that are interested in doing prospecting. What are the resources available on the moon? Could we potentially have some minerals and things we can bring back and use for economic purposes? And, then scientific discoveries,” said Wyche.

As well as going further into the solar system.

Lunar research will help build the Orion spacecraft for its upcoming missions near the Moon as the agency moves closer to flight operations for exploration missions.

A panel of space exploration experts discussed work being done in Houston to design and build elements for NASA’s Orion Spacecraft's in-flight, full-stress test of its launch abort system and steps being taken to test and develop several technological capabilities to support NASA’s Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway.

Wyche said they're learning about things they never knew before. For example, samples were brought back from Apollo that have never been analyzed, but now will do so with new technology.

More robotic missions will be done to study the Moon's surface. The Gateway can investigate the far side of the moon.

Wyche said they’re still formulating concepts and designs for power and propulsion element, as well as habitat systems. The Human Research Program looks to protect equipment and people from radiation when traveling to the Moon and beyond.

“Part of it will be the science we bring back. So, expanding scientific knowledge. And, who knows what new discoveries will come from that,” said NASA Astronaut Nicole Mann.

Starting next year, two more flight tests are scheduled for Orion. Orion is designed for four crew members and a mission length of 21 days.

Mission two will be a free lunar return, where they’ll orbit around the moon and then come back.

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