NASA Plans a Manned Space Station In Orbit Near the Moon

The NASA budget that went to Capitol Hill yesterday dashed any plans to initiate new Mars exploration missions in the next few years, but amid the belt-tightening SPACE reports that NASA is exploring another idea that, while much closer to home, is still quite ambitious–the building of a manned waypoint (read: space station) at the Lagrangian point EML-2 on the far side of the moon. This international space station (but we’ll have to think of a better name) would serve as a jumping off place for new science missions as well as a gateway to other destinations like asteroids, Martian moons, and–eventually–Mars.
NASA, its Mars ambitions on hold for now, is viewing such a waypoint as a near-term exploration asset with the capacity to deliver new science and technologies within the decade. It would incorporate NASA’s core next-gen capabilities–the planned heavy lift rocket known as the Space Launch System (SLS) and the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle–as well as technologies contributed by international partners.
And in the near-term, it could put humans further out into space than they’ve ever been–the kind of superlative mission the agency as lacked since the glory days of the Apollo Program.
According to a recent memo, NASA is fielding a team charged with developing a plan for exploring Earth-moon libration point 2 (Earth-moon libration point is equivalent to a Lagrange point, but specific to the Earth and moon), a point in space where the pull of two bodies roughly balance out, making it possible to more or less “park” a spacecraft there.