The proposal for a NASA lunar outpost to be built at the L-2 LaGrange point may get canceled now that Barack Obama is cutting the space program′s budget for 2013. Somebody better tell Newt Gingrich about this! The proposal was very simply to build a ′waypoint′ at the L-2 LaGrange point, also known as a ′libration point′, one of five areas about the Earth where the gravitational effects of the Earth and Moon equal each other. Thus, such locations are ideal for use as jumping off points for exploring deep space, as less fuel would be needed to get under way. The L-2 position is about 60,000 miles beyond the Moon′s 239,000 mile average distance. It is also slightly behind the Moon as it orbits the Earth.
The new Obama budget for 2013 slashes spending for NASA, including reductions for funding several missions to Mars and beyond. This includes a joint unmanned robot rover missions with Europe to Mars in 2016 and 2018. Obama will cut some $226 million, about 39%, just from the Mars budget. Several ongoing projects, such as the Cassini probe′s mission at Saturn, may get axed. Launched in 1997, the Cassini probe has continued to explore Saturn and its moons since arriving in 2004. The spacecraft was expected to remain active until at least 2017. Overall, the Obama 2013 budget gives NASA $17.7 billion dollars, 0.3% than the previous year.
NASA has already been forced by the Obama administration to abandon any plans for a human habitat on the surface of the Moon itself. Cancellation of several aspects of the Space Launch System program begun during the Bush administration has gutted the entire U.S. manned spaceflight program. Cost estimates to building such a base on the Moon range from as little as $40 billion to as high as $250 billion dollars by 2020.
The NASA lunar outpost proposal for building a manned station at L-2 LaGrange libration point may not even get a fair hearing after Barack Obama slashes the space program′s budget. The deepest cuts will eliminate several deep space unmanned projects, such as two joint rover missions to Mars with Europe in 2016 and 2018. The L-2 waypoint station would have been the ideal facility from which to launch manned missions to Mars or to Near Earth Asteroids, as well as building and maintaining deep space telescopes.