NASA shut down the project development of Rover

The agency sparked strong criticism from planetary scientists in recent days for canceling the most advanced publicly-financed plan for a robotic lander, dubbed Resource Prospector, meant to search for water and ice on the lunar surface.

Long before the former Republican Congressman from Oklahoma narrowly won confirmation, the Trump administration staked out its commitment to rely on entrepreneurs and commercial-space companies to spearhead USA efforts to return to the moon. "More landers. More science".

According to Clive Neal, a University of Notre Dame planetary scientist and emeritus chairman of the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group, members of the Resource Prospector mission were told to close out the project by the end of May.

This decision was received with "disbelief and dismay" by the scientific community, especially since the space programme communicated by the US President Donald Trump demanded NASA to send Moon exploration missions. That update doesn't offer any detail about what sort of mission those instruments would be moved to or when it might reach the Moon. "The political environment, I'll just say, was not as conducive as it is now to going to the moon", said Anthony Colaprete, Resource Prospector project scientist, in a presentation at the LEAG annual meeting last October.

The cancellation is likely for budgetary reasons, rather than practical ones.


However, even before this announcement, NASA had telegraphed that it the mission was not a priority for its lunar exploration plans. After the publication of the article by The Verge, NASA issued a statement which said that "separate tools" Resource Prospector will be involved in other missions related to lunar exploration. We still want to see it move forward. "We just need to know exactly how much is there".

NASA said on April 27 that it was developing an exploration strategy, in line with Trump's directive, to meet its expanded lunar exploration goals. These instruments will fly to the moon as part of the space agency's effort to help build commercial lunar landers of increasing size and complexity, leading eventually to the first landing of humans on the moon's surface since 1972. Richards, though, noted his company has a modular approach that will allow it to carry heavier payloads to the surface in the future.

That would have created a "mismatch" between the science program's capabilities and what Resource Prospector was designed to do, Neal said.

"Leveraging commercial investment is more cost-effective" than NASA's historic approach to exploration, and is essential to bring about private-public partnership models demanded by the White House, according to Joel Sercel, a commercial-space advocate who runs a startup that works with NASA.


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