In continuance with the tradition, William H. Gerstenmaier, Associate Administrator for NASA, revealed two grand plans for the future in the Senate hearing called ‘From Here to Mars’.
He talked about landing manned missions on Mars and redirecting an asteroid into the moon’s orbit. That’s it. No biggie.
In a statement which sounded like dialogue straight out of a Hollywood sci-fi flick, Gerstenmaier said, "We're going to grab a piece of the solar system, we're going to deflect it around the moon and insert it into a distant retrograde orbit around the moon where our crews can go visit. To think we're moving a piece of the solar system for our use that will allow us to learn skills and techniques that we need to push the human presence into the solar system, that's a pretty awe-inspiring statement."
The Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM), as NASA prefers to call it, will involve sending a manned aircraft to the asteroid and then using high-power solar electric propulsion to steer it into the moon’s orbit.
These two projects are visionary but NASA’s ambition extends way beyond research. Those wondering what the next step may be, if these missions are successful, now have an answer: Human settlements in space.
That’s right…according to Gerstenmaier’s testimony, “Over time, we will move beyond conducting limited-duration forays to distant destinations and begin to lay the groundwork to establish outposts, build settlements, and utilize in situ resources as we expand the reach of humanity.”
Pack your bags, folks. It’s time to leave.