A new report has been released, the Global Exploration Roadmap for 2013, an action plan for space exploration.
The Global Exploration Roadmap is being developed by space agencies participating in the International Space Exploration Coordination Group (ISECG): Italy, France, Canada, Germany, the European Space Agency, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the United States, the Ukraine, Russia and the United Kingdom.
The initial roadmap issued in September 2011 identified two potential pathways toward the driving goal of human exploration of Mars: “Asteroid Next” and “Moon Next.”
Building on this work, the 2013 roadmap includes a single reference mission scenario that reflects the importance of a stepwise evolution of critical capabilities which are necessary for executing increasingly complex missions to multiple destinations, leading to human exploration of Mars.
Lunar vicinity/surface missions
As spelled out in the just-released report, using planned and conceptual capabilities, the ISECG Mission Scenario “identifies a set of missions in the lunar vicinity and on the lunar surface that advance readiness for human Mars missions after 2030.”
Extended duration crew missions in the lunar vicinity and missions to an easily accessible asteroid will enable discoveries and allow demonstration of the transportation, habitation, robotic servicing and other key systems on which long duration missions into deep space must rely, the report explains.
“Human missions to the lunar surface will allow critical demonstrations of planetary exploration capabilities and techniques, while pursuing the highest priority lunar science objectives,” the ISECG report explains.
In a conclusion section, several “observations” are made:
— In order to build a sustainable human space exploration endeavor that lasts decades, agency leaders should maintain a focus on delivering value to the public.
— With the goal of enabling several partners to contribute critical capabilities to future human missions, agencies note that near-term collaborative missions on the ISS, in the lunar vicinity, on the lunar surface, and robotic missions may be used to simulate and better inform preparations for future international missions to Mars.
— New mission concepts, such as human-assisted sample return and tele-presence should be further explored, increasing understanding of the important role of humans in space for achieving common goals.
— Robotic science missions provide an important technique for obtaining the data needed to prepare for human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit. It is generally accepted by both the science and exploration communities that measurements and data sets obtained from robotic missions support both the advancement of science and preparation for human exploration.
— Agencies should increase efforts to pursue a coordinated approach to mitigating the human health and performance risks of extended duration exploration missions, putting priority on efforts to reduce countermeasure mass and volume, and on driving risks to an acceptable level.
This document is available online at:
By Leonard David
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