|President Obama and Speaker Boehner|
Depending upon what happens in the next few months on Capitol Hill and at the White House, especially the talks between President Barack Obama (vid) and Speaker of the House John A. Boehner, NASA's future exploration path will be determined by budget cash.
|Europa orbiter. Credit NASA/JPL|
The Planetary Society has been an outspoken opponent (vid) of the administration’s proposed 20-percent cut in planetary science funding, from $1.5 to $1.2 billion in the 2013 budget proposal. The House and Senate have partially restored that funding in their versions of appropriations bills that include NASA, but a final spending bill awaits negotiations in the month ahead on far larger issues involving federal spending and taxes.
|Far side of the Moon. Credit NASA|
|Artist rendering of spacecraft at L2|
Furthermore, both sides of the American Congressional political isles are observing the aspirations of Asian nations, particularly China and India. Both nations have cast their eye to the moon and to Mars. There are creditable overtures being made for China-India space project collaboration.
|Click to expand L2 location|
An alternative to the L2 outpost is a lunar base for human and robotic operations, as suggested by Bob Clark in a comment to the November 8, 2012 post entitled, "NASA Gearing-Up Human Spaceflight for the Moon in President Obama's Second-Term?"
North Los Vegas-based Bigelow Aerospace has proposed a private outpost on the surface of the moon as a part of their inflatable habitat business plan. At least three (3) Google Lunar X-Prize contestant firms (vid) are on the cusp of emerging with robotic lunar rovers aboard booster rockets from the United States and China in 2014.
NASA has also a dormant plan to place a walking Robonaut on the surface of the Moon within 1,000-days of green light, at a relatively modest taxpayer cost. NASA has studied lunar bases (vid) since the 1969-1972 Apollo lunar landings and throughout the pre-commercial Internet Age.
The Japanese have touted a lunar base tended by robots along with longer-term commercial lunar projects. NASA has even begun to discuss lunar surface property rights. Nations around the globe - from China-to-Germany - are looking to exploit lunar resources.
|President Obama and Elon Musk|
|Aldrin shows Obama moon Phobos|