Former astronaut says NASA plans to build a ‘gateway’ to other planets on the Moon

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We spoke to an astronaut in Manchester about his experiences in space and how NASA plans to use the Moon as a ‘gateway’ to other planets.

A retired NASA astronaut has spoken of future plans to explore space, including the potential for creating a ‘gateway’ to other planets on the Moon. Veteran NASA Astronaut Bruce E. Melnick has spent more than 300 hours in space and has orbited Earth 207 times during two space shuttle missions.

He has said the Space Administration’s planned Artemis expeditions hope to build a ‘Lunar Space Station’ to use as a gateway to launch to other planets.

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Mr Melnick, who this week visited Manchester, said: “It’s hard to launch straight from here to anywhere because of the gravitational pull of the Earth.

“It’s one thing to get to Earth orbit and another to get to Lunar orbit - but to get to Mars - the way we’re looking at doing that is to fly to the Moon first, use the gateway there as maybe a fuelling station and depart from Lunar orbit where there’s virtually no gravity to fight to get started and head to Mars from there.”

Mr Melnick is now an ambassador for the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida, where people interested in space travel can experience a simulated ride into space, see a real-life shuttle up close and much more.

Speaking of the UK’s failed Virgin rocket launch in Cornwall earlier this month, Mr Melnick said it appears the rocket worked well, but it was some sort of software glitch that prevented the satellite from deploying.

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He said: “Look back at our human space flight programme in the United States. We had a lot of failures before we finally got it right and we’re able to fly. Don’t give up, persistence pays off.”

We got the chance to speak to him about what it’s like to look down on Earth and find out more about the future of space travel.

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