NASA's Deep Space Outpost Near the Moon

NASA plans manned Deep Space Moon outpost • The Register

NASA is looking at the possibility of parking a manned outpost beside the Moon as a way station for astronauts on their way to deep space missions.

According to a memo from William Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for human exploration and operations, cited by Space.com, the agency is putting together a team to assess the possibilities of a potential location on the far side of the Moon known as Earth-Moon libration point 2 (EML-2).

Libration, or Lagrangian, points are parking spots in space where a small object is equally affected by the gravitational pull of two large masses, which cancel each other out, holding the craft in place.

DailyTech - NASA Preparing to Explore Earth-Moon Libration Point 2

The Lagrange points for the Earth-moon system

There are five libration points, or Lagrangian points, which mark positions where the combined gravitational pull of two large masses provides the centripetal force needed to rotate with them. This combined gravitational pull of the two large masses balance each other out, and spacecraft is able to basically park in this stationary spot.

Exploration and potential use of EML-2, which is located near the lunar far side, could open up the use of telerobotic science on the far side of the moon and provide a platform for radio astronomy as well as solar and Earth observation. It could also enable assembly and servicing of satellites and telescopes. NASA sees the effort eventually creating international partnerships as well as new opportunities with commercial companies and academic institutions.

EML-2 could serve as a gateway for capability-driven exploration of multiple destinations, such as near-lunar space, asteroids, the moon, the moons of Mars and, ultimately, Mars itself, according to NASA officials.

A capabilities-driven NASA architecture is one that should use the agency's  planned heavy-lift rocket, known as the Space Launch System, and the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle "as the foundational elements."