I just finished an article in the Washington Post by Michael Benson that, if implemented, would give the flying white elephant known as the International Space Station an actual purpose other than a tombstone for the Ronald Reagan lack of vision. Put the ISS into a lunar orbit. It's so simple, cheap and obvious I can't figure out why I didn't think of it.
Think about it. An orbiting platform loaded with Astronauts, Cosmonauts, and whatever Japan and France call their equivalent a hundred or so miles above the lunar surface. Bring the Chinese on board, we'll need their money too. Everything in the development pipeline is adaptable to such a project.
A reusable lunar lander makes a lot of sense in that it doesn't have to carry all that fuel and tons of heat tiles for reentry. Gas it up, take a couple of Astronauts on board, and touchdown. There is still a couple of low milage rovers there waiting to be hotwired. Think of the opportunities for a space telescope as a part of the ISS. Infinitely upgradable and repairable. I think I just drooled.
This idea is so cool it probably doesn't stand a chance of ever happening.
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