The following is an excerpt from Jeffrey Kluger | February 16, 2017 | Time.com |
Americans can get awfully dreamy about the moon — and with good reason. The flags and footprints we left there in the 1960s and 1970s were symbols of what we can achieve when we just plain decide to achieve it. And the fact that we abandoned it all — no permanent scientific moon bases that could also serve as test beds for deeper-space exploration — is an equally powerful symbol of what has long felt like national drift.
Now, however, the moon is making headlines again. On Wednesday, NASA's acting administrator Robert Lightfoot circulated a memo to employees hinting at the possibility of flying astronauts aboard the space agency's new heavy-lift rocket and crew vehicle as early as 2018. What's more, the mission would not just be to low-Earth orbit, but to lunar orbit — coming during the 50th anniversary year of the Apollo 8 mission, when astronauts first achieved that singular exploratory feat.
That, in the space community, amounted to an earthquake.
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