My idea for future space exploration would center around having a living area as well as a launching station on the surface of the moon. This will allow us to not only have manned missions to Mars but it would also allow us to get our exploratory satellites and robotic rovers further out into our solar system.
The plan I’m going to lay out here is dependant on someone not inventing a use able warp drive in the next 25 years which in that case I would scrap this plan as we wouldn’t have the problems of conventional rockets fuels. I pray for the day and I’m excited about some of the new discoveries but until than we’ll have to work within our limits.
I’d have to say I agree with NASA’s constellation program for getting people to the moon fairly quick and hopefully cost effectively. But it should only be a temporary mode of transport until we have our next gen space shuttles, and here I think we’re going to have to take a look at what some private business’ are doing with craft that can launch for the belly of a large airplanes to craft that can takeoff from the ground and climb as high as possible than use small rockets to clear the last bit of the Earths atmosphere. These types of craft would than link up with a small “convoy” of modules blasted up into space using heavy lifting cargo rockets. The convoy could now share fuel and head for the moon to start working on the biggest extraterrestrial construction project the world has ever seen.
Not only would a permanent base on the moon allow us to launch manned missions to mars and explore further into our solar system with unmanned probes we could also setup observatories. With one side always facing the Earth and one side always facing away we could use the moon to both further our understanding of the Earth as well as the sun and the rest of our solar system.
The moon base would also give our rover development guys a little more room and hopefully we could start launching what I call reusable research drone units. These units would launch from the moon to another planet in this case lets say Mars it would detach from a satellite and the unit would land on the surface. It would than deploy 2-3 rovers to do tests and collect samples. The rovers at the end of their missions would than reload onto the lander with their samples and blast off back into orbit where it could reconnect with the satellite or leave it behind for the next mission and travel back to the moon base.
This is just the tip of the iceberg with what we could accomplish with a moon base. It’s time we had a real space station and retire the old I.S.S, we’ve learned a lot from her but she has had her time and now it’s time to move on.