NASA Abruptly Cancels Moon Rover But Reconfirms Commitment to Explore Lunar Surface
NASA has stopped work on its only lunar rover, the Resource Prospector, raising questions among some scientists about the commitment of the space agency to send astronauts to the moon.
The rover was being developed to operate the first mining expedition on the moon in the 2020s, but according to The Washington Post, a scientist revealed that the team was instructed last week to shut down work on the project.
According to the Hill, NASA said it is still “planning a series of progressive robotic missions to the lunar surface,” but that the commercial space industry would be relied on to make this happen.
But a group of lunar scientists, in a letter to newly confirmed NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, argue that canceling the rover threatens to derail the timeline for returning to the moon and shows that NASA is not “serious” about that goal.
“This action is viewed with both incredulity and dismay by our community, especially as the President’s Space Policy Directive 1 directs NASA to go to the lunar surface,” the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group wrote in the letter.
Bridenstine said in a tweet on Friday, April 27, that NASA is “committed to lunar exploration” and added that certain instruments from the rover would be sent up to the moon.
We’re committed to lunar exploration @NASA. Resource Prospector instruments will go forward in an expanded lunar surface campaign. More landers. More science. More exploration. More prospectors. More commercial partners. Ad astra! https://t.co/FaxO6WUDow
— Jim Bridenstine (@JimBridenstine) 27 kwietnia 2018