A simulation of NASA's Resource Prospector that was recently discontinued.
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In the desert landscape of the Apollo Valley, high on top of Mauna Kea in Hawaii, a prototype rover simulating a lunar mine mission drove to Wa ssereis Signatures He Should Investigate with a Drill [19659007] The July 2012 simulation marks a culmination in a Kennedy Space Center program that develops "out of the country" space technologies – think of "The Marsian" – Known as In-Situ Resource Utilization or ISRU (19659008) As part of the "KSC 2000" initiative nearly 20 years ago, the small but ambitious ISRU program aimed to help explorers one day find water, oxygen, hydrogen and precious metals from the moon

On Mauna Kea, KSC Bill Larson, NASA's ISRU project manager, shed tears of joy when he was told that the agency headquarters wanted to fly the mission, which was named RESOLVE and later renamed Resource Prospector. The KSC provided scientific instruments, software and a control center in a former gun room.

"I've always imagined that Kennedy needed something other than just take-off ramps and runways," said Larson von Viera, who has since retired. "For me, Resource Prospector was the linchpin that would create a whole range of possibilities for the Space Center."

Recently, Larson was among some KSC staff and the lunar scientists were amazed when they learned that NASA dropped their plans to fly Resource Prospector While the Trump Government Focused on Lunar Research

The decision, one of the last before Jim Jim Briddestine bid farewell and clear the way, could be the "death bell" for ISRU at KSC, Larson said ,

Already last year, NASA had shifted responsibility for the ISRU program to the Glenn Research Center in Ohio as part of an agency-wide review of the role of each field center

Glenn will continue to do some work for KSC, but the KSC has become commissioned to close the projects he led. One big one was Resource Prospector, a mission that wanted to go to the South Pole of the Moon by 2022 with a solar-powered mower-sized rover to drill and analyze soil samples over a week.

"This action is being considered" The Lunar Exploration Analysis Group, a group of lunar researchers, wrote to Bridenstine in a letter dated April 26 about canceling the mission, with both incredulity and consternation from our community. "The cancellation of RP could be considered as NASA, which is not seriously interested in a return to the lunar surface."

Tight budgets and bureaucratic clashes between the NASA research department where the mission originated and the science directorate where it was relocated are said to have sunk the mission.

NASA said it is developing a strategy for an extended lunar exploration program and will fly selected Resource Prospector instruments on other missions. About $ 100 million invested so far would not be wasted.

"We are committed to lunar research at NASA," said Briddentine on Twitter. "More Lander, More Science, More Exploration, More Prospectors, More Commercial Partners."

The Space Agency intends to work with commercial companies to develop a number of lander-like aircraft, soon to be developed in commercial freighter development also helped astronauts to the International Space Station.

"NASA has the same proven templates for commercial lunar landing / exploration partner development as its partners in the commercial launch industry," said Bob Richards, CEO of Moon Express, Cape Canaveral.

Scientists fear that the new strategy was a delay from Robotic Lunar Module mission by years to what was feasible for Resource Prospector, who considered proponents as "shovel ready" once formally approved.

Commercial landers could appear faster and cheaper than expected and minimize the impact of losing the mission.

However, delays would be problematic, said Phil Metzger, a planetary scientist at the Florida Space Institute, University of Central Florida. He retired from NASA in 2014 and was part of Resource Prospector's science team.

The results of Resource Prospector had influenced the designs of possible Mars missions and helped launch commercial mine projects on the Moon.

The only way that NASA leads to Mars missions is to develop this cis-lunar economy, "Metzger said," The fastest way to develop this economy is to promote lunar and asteroid fuels, for the resource Prospector was developed. I think this is striking in the heart of NASA, which eventually goes to Mars.

Resource Prospector at KSC was a small-scale project which is likely to affect only a few dozen full-time employees of nearly 2,000.

But the loss of mission and the diminished ISRU role of the center – a core activity for a department called Swamp Works – shows how small technology development programs are struggling to survive.

Resources are more focused than ever on the large budget programs for developing the Orion Crew Space Launch System missile Capsule and related ground system for an unmanned launch in 2020, and Crewed launch around the moon in 2023.

If a launch tower or launch software is behind schedule in these core programs, engineers are more likely to have drawn from independent projects [19659007] But this work can slow down as soon as the key-start infrastructure is completed, and some see the SLS program as susceptible to cancellation in the long-term, as lower-priced heavy-lift missiles come into being ike SpaceX Falcon Heavy.

According to Larson, in 2011 KSC had the opportunity to deploy more than 200 officers for projects funded by NASA's Space Technology Mission or Advanced Exploration Systems. These orders have dropped to less than 50 this year, he said.

KSC referred questions about the Resource Prospector Mission and ISRU program to statements from NASA Headquarters.

About ISRU, technology projects at KSC are studying storage of cryogenic fuels, corrosion protection and aspects of closed life support systems, among others. The idea was to apply KSC's expertise to spaceports that astronauts will eventually build and occupy from Earth.

"As we fully fulfill our ground-handling responsibilities and continue our tradition of excellence, KSC can now take part in NASA's flagship technology initiatives in its role as a Spaceport technology center," Center Director Roy Bridges wrote in its 2000 Annual Report KSC.

Today, the KSC research initiative is building edible plants on the ISS.

The center has been renamed as a "multi-user spaceport" that leases facilities and space to non-NASA tenants. Some believe that technology development has provided more of the necessary practical work, such as machining shuttles or now the Orion capsule, which for a long time was the specialty of the center.

"While we are trying to become a multi-user spaceport I do not have much practical space hardware work at KSC, so I think it's important that we close the gap with technology development," said Butcher. "Instead of doing less resource prospector, NASA should do more of Resource Prospector to get that workforce, this national treasure that has taken 70 years to develop."

NASA and the Legislators of the Mission hope for a decision to drop it.

However, an updated NASA statement on Thursday said the project was a "one-time attempt to explore a specific location on the Moon, and now, as planned, it is too limited for the Authority's extended lunar exploration focus."

Contact Dean at 321-242-3668 or And follow on Twitter at @flatoday_jdean and on Facebook at

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