NASA is looking into what it calls several human-tended EML-2 waypoints for the Orion space capsule, between Earth and the far side of the moon to be used as outposts for deeper human space exploration and an eventual trip to Mars.
NASA says that the EML-2 project, which is short for Earth Moon Libration point 2, would embrace an international outpost partnership and include commercial and academic participation, according to Space.com.
A team is being assembled to map out the project that would include five total waypoints, with three of them between the earth and moon, one on the opposite side of Earth, and then the last one in lunar orbit.
The waypoints would be positioned in areas where the gravitational pull of both the Earth and Moon would essentially keep them in a fixed position allowing the Orion space craft to park there. They would allow for further trips to asteroids, the moon itself, the moons of Mars and then eventually Mars.
“This is extremely exciting from both the exploration and science sides,” Jack Burns, director of the Lunar University Network for Astrophysics Research (LUNAR) Center at the University of Colorado, Boulder, told SPACE.com.
“This mission concept seems to be really taking off now because it is unique and offers the prospects of doing something significant outside of low-Earth orbit within this decade.”