July 11, 2019

STILL SOARING: Buzz Aldrin is looking forward, not back — and he has a plan to bring NASA along.

The famed science fiction author Robert Heinlein is credited with saying, “If you can get your ship into orbit, you’re halfway to anywhere.” The basic gist of this is that, for any space mission, getting off the surface of the Earth and into free fall around the planet consumes half of your energy cost.

For this reason, a lot of aerospace engineers have long argued that deep space missions should be staged out of low-Earth orbit. And as Aldrin has thought about the current state of NASA and private industry, he has come around to this way of thinking, too. He therefore envisions building the “Gateway” not near the Moon but rather in low-Earth orbit. From this gathering point, missions could be assembled to go to the Moon or elsewhere. Aldrin calls this a “TransWay Orbit Rendezvous,” or T.O.R., because it represents a point of transferring from one orbit around Earth to another.

“This T.O.R. plan may be the most important thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Aldrin said.

Good stuff from Ars Technica. Read the whole thing.

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