Using the International Space Station (ISS) as a safe haven for an aborted Moon mission is under consideration by NASA.

An abort option would be required if astronauts aboard a crew exploration vehicle (CEV) have reached Earth orbit, but the heavylift launch vehicle with the Earth departure module needed to get to the Moon has failed.

In this scenario, the CEV would fly to the ISS, where the astronauts would either wait for another heavylift vehicle to be launched or would return to Earth.

The proposal to use the ISS has been put forward by NASA deputy associate administrator for space operations and exploration Michael Foale.

Foale, the British-born astronaut with more hours in space than any of his NASA colleagues, is now advising the NASA leadership on ISS involvement in the exploration vision and other issues. "The crew would be launched into the ISS [orbital] plane and then, if the heavylift launched unsuccessfully, the ISS is a safe haven for Moon mission success.

"They could wait for another heavylift vehicle and still go to the Moon as the window from the ISS comes every 10 days," says Foale.

Although the CEV is intended to go directly to the Moon, the final request for proposals, expected next month, will ask bidders to propose concepts for taking the CEV to the ISS, says Craig Steidle, associate administrator for exploration systems.


Source: Flight International