Author Topic: Orbital ATK Advocates Cislunar Outpost as America's NEXT Step in Human Space Exp  (Read 19684 times)

Offline Endeavour_01

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I guess SpaceX
Why are you bringing up SpaceX (twice now, the first time with a veiled reference) in an Orbital ATK thread?  How about we attempt to discuss the proposal on its own merits, without throwing in straw men to knock down?

That particular quote was in reference to the poster's name "gospacex." I was merely making the point that OrbitalATK having government contracts for space hardware is no different than what SpaceX, ULA, or SNC do. Cygnus is as economically viable as Dragon and Dream Chaser.
 
Can we please give the "If it isn't made by SpaceX it shouldn't happen" attitude a rest?
And now a third time.  To quote someone else, "please give it a rest".

I am a fan of everything involved in spaceflight (just read my sig). I try to cheer for everyone. When I see a concept that is being badmouthed for no reason (or because it doesn't match up with some other architecture) I try to restore some balance. Maybe since I have seen so much of it in other threads I overreacted here.

Maybe everyone should "give it a rest" and focus on the pros and cons of this plan rather than declaring "it has no mission" or "it is just a jobs program."
« Last Edit: 05/20/2016 02:58 PM by Endeavour_01 »
I cheer for both NASA and commercial space. For SLS, Orion, Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy, Dragon, Starliner, Cygnus and all the rest!
I was blessed to see the launch of Space Shuttle Endeavour on STS-99. The launch was beyond amazing. My 8-year old mind was blown. I remember the noise and seeing the exhaust pour out of the shuttle as it lifted off. I remember staring and watching it soar while it was visible in the clear blue sky. It was one of the greatest moments of my life and I will never forget it.

Offline Rocket Science

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Give it a rest you don't need humans in space to test hardware. Just send the hardware...That's why it's called a "hardware test"... ::)

Well given how much maintenance ISS requires only giving hab modules unmanned tests before going to Mars might not be the best option. Then of course there is the benefit of the astronauts learning how to maintain said systemx without as much help from Earth.

A cis-lunar station can be used to great effect for both lunar exploration and further expeditions BEO (not to mention expanding the commercial space sector beyond LEO).

Can we please give the "If it isn't made by SpaceX it shouldn't happen" attitude a rest?
The only person that mentioned SpaceX is you... Learn something about me before you categorize me pal...
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
~Rob: Physics instructor, Aviator, Vintage auto racer

Offline Endeavour_01

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The only person that mentioned SpaceX is you... Learn something about me before you categorize me pal...

The last part was meant as a general statement, I wasn't talking about you specifically. I apologize for failing to make that distinction.

I let my anger over what is happening in other threads color my view of what is going on in this one. I sincerely apologize for that and apologize for unfairly impugning anyone's motivations.
« Last Edit: 05/20/2016 03:22 PM by Endeavour_01 »
I cheer for both NASA and commercial space. For SLS, Orion, Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy, Dragon, Starliner, Cygnus and all the rest!
I was blessed to see the launch of Space Shuttle Endeavour on STS-99. The launch was beyond amazing. My 8-year old mind was blown. I remember the noise and seeing the exhaust pour out of the shuttle as it lifted off. I remember staring and watching it soar while it was visible in the clear blue sky. It was one of the greatest moments of my life and I will never forget it.

Offline Rocket Science

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The only person that mentioned SpaceX is you... Learn something about me before you categorize me pal...

The last part was meant as a general statement, I wasn't talking about you specifically. I apologize for failing to make that distinction.

I let my anger over what is happening in other threads color my view of what is going on in this one. I sincerely apologize for that and apologize for unfairly impugning anyone's motivations.
Fair enough... Remember my approach to the mentioned company... "Don't tell me Elon, show me"... I feel that approach provide a healthy skepticism and maintains perspective...
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
~Rob: Physics instructor, Aviator, Vintage auto racer

Offline Endeavour_01

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Getting back on topic:

One of the advantages of this proposal is that it is one that can be ready in the near term for not much money. That is sorely needed right now. Since the "deep space" Cygnus already has a prototype in the form of the current Cygnus the construction of a station should take less time vs. starting from scratch with another hab module concept.

Even if a "deep space" Cygnus is a preliminary/cargo module vs. the core of a lunar station it still provides a great benefit to cis-lunar exploration efforts. EM-2 will be more exciting with the addition of a destination.
I cheer for both NASA and commercial space. For SLS, Orion, Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy, Dragon, Starliner, Cygnus and all the rest!
I was blessed to see the launch of Space Shuttle Endeavour on STS-99. The launch was beyond amazing. My 8-year old mind was blown. I remember the noise and seeing the exhaust pour out of the shuttle as it lifted off. I remember staring and watching it soar while it was visible in the clear blue sky. It was one of the greatest moments of my life and I will never forget it.

Offline jtrame

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Getting back on topic:

One of the advantages of this proposal is that it is one that can be ready in the near term for not much money. That is sorely needed right now. Since the "deep space" Cygnus already has a prototype in the form of the current Cygnus the construction of a station should take less time vs. starting from scratch with another hab module concept.

Even if a "deep space" Cygnus is a preliminary/cargo module vs. the core of a lunar station it still provides a great benefit to cis-lunar exploration efforts. EM-2 will be more exciting with the addition of a destination.

The diameter of a Cygnus at about 3 meters makes it better suited as a supply closet vs. an ISS sized module at 4.2 meters. That makes room for equipment racks, etc.  Plenty of experience building those so it wouldn't be starting from scratch either. 
« Last Edit: 05/20/2016 03:51 PM by jtrame »

Offline BrightLight

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Getting back on topic:

One of the advantages of this proposal is that it is one that can be ready in the near term for not much money. That is sorely needed right now. Since the "deep space" Cygnus already has a prototype in the form of the current Cygnus the construction of a station should take less time vs. starting from scratch with another hab module concept.

Even if a "deep space" Cygnus is a preliminary/cargo module vs. the core of a lunar station it still provides a great benefit to cis-lunar exploration efforts. EM-2 will be more exciting with the addition of a destination.
I am not sure what "not much money" means.  While the Cygnus spacecraft is operational, it is not a stand-alone manned platform it needs man-rated environmental and power sub-systems

Frank DeMauro, Orbital ATK Vice President for Human Spaceflight Systems was quoted in Universe Today and re-quoted in
http://phys.org/news/2016-05-orbital-atk-man-tended-lunar-orbit-outpost.html;
"A variety of supplementary subsystems would also need to be enhanced... We looked at what systems we would need to modify to make it a long term habitation module. Since we would not be docked to the ISS, we would need our own Environmental Control and Life Support Systems (ECLSS) out at lunar orbit to support the crew...
The service module would also need to be improved due to the high radiation environment and the longer time...
We also need to look at the thermal protection subsystem, radiation protection subsystem and power subsystems to support the vehicle for many years as opposed to the short time spent at the ISS. More power is also needed to support more science. We also need a propulsion system to get to the moon and maintain the vehicle...
All that work is getting looked at now to determine what we need to modify and upgrade and how we would do all that work,"
All this work won't be cheap, just to get to a ground based prototype will be hundreds of millions, let alone a flight-ready package.



Online RonM

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People are forgetting political reality. Congress mandated NASA build SLS and Orion. SLS needs payloads and Orion needs a destination. NASA is going to use cislunar space as a proving ground for future Mars missions. Obama killed the Constellation program, but Congress still got Orion and a big rocket, so the next president will probably just go with what Congress wants.

Under this political environment, Orbital ATK has suggested a cislunar outpost based on their current Cygnus vehicle. It's a good idea considering what is going on in Washington.

BTW, Congress does care about anyone's opinion on NASA. NASA funding isn't a political issue today, so they're not going to lose any votes over it.

The question isn't whether or not NASA will use Orion in cislunar space because that's a given. The question is whether or not this Orbital ATK proposal is a good one for utilizing Orion.

Personally, I think it is a good idea to have a place for EM-2 and later missions. A cislunar outpost can be equipped with instruments for lunar and solar system observation. Orion missions can be used for repairs and experiment replacement.

Online Eric Hedman

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Orbital ATK is only one of four companies working on proposals for this as part of NASA's NextSTEP.  Info on this starts on page 35 of the PowerPoint:

http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/files/3-Status_of_AES.pdf

I'm looking forward to the other proposals from Bigelow, Boeing & LM.

The ECLSS proposals starting on page 43 are from Dynetics, Inc, Hamilton Sundstrand Space
Systems International, and Orbitec.

Online Joffan

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One advantage of a cis-lunar station would be improved micro-gravity conditions, rather than the ISS's drag-affected location in the thermosphere. The ISS is great for Earth viewing, so a high earth orbit doesn't give any advantage on that mission, whereas proximity to the Moon could be a significant enabler for a lot more lunar science and exploration.

I do agree this will be a tough mission to sell politically, though. Saying much more would take me into the Space Policy zone...
Max Q for humanity becoming spacefaring

Offline Coastal Ron

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People are forgetting political reality. Congress mandated NASA build SLS and Orion.

This was relatively easy, since the SLS and Orion MPCV took over existing contracts and contractors (i.e. no bidding was required).

But using the SLS and Orion is a different thing, since so far Congress has refused to fund any long-term and continuous programs that require the SLS or Orion.  Those will require new appropriations and votes by both parties.  It's rare for a new spending program to be approved these days.

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NASA is going to use cislunar space as a proving ground for future Mars missions.

That remains to be seen.  There is a HUGE disconnect between when such a need is required and when NASA is going to Mars.  For instance, because of secondary radiation effects it is unlikely we will go to the Moon or Mars with aluminum habitats - which is what Orbital ATK is proposing to use.

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The question isn't whether or not NASA will use Orion in cislunar space because that's a given. The question is whether or not this Orbital ATK proposal is a good one for utilizing Orion.

Unfortunately there is no mechanism in place that can properly evaluate this proposal, since there is no overall plan for going to Mars, the Moon, or anywhere.  Instead we have politicians dictating engineering decisions and science choices.

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A cislunar outpost can be equipped with instruments for lunar and solar system observation. Orion missions can be used for repairs and experiment replacement.

None of which are on the critical path for NASA getting to Mars.  What your are describing is called "mission creep".
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline TrevorMonty

Getting back on topic:

One of the advantages of this proposal is that it is one that can be ready in the near term for not much money. That is sorely needed right now. Since the "deep space" Cygnus already has a prototype in the form of the current Cygnus the construction of a station should take less time vs. starting from scratch with another hab module concept.

Even if a "deep space" Cygnus is a preliminary/cargo module vs. the core of a lunar station it still provides a great benefit to cis-lunar exploration efforts. EM-2 will be more exciting with the addition of a destination.
I am not sure what "not much money" means.  While the Cygnus spacecraft is operational, it is not a stand-alone manned platform it needs man-rated environmental and power sub-systems

Frank DeMauro, Orbital ATK Vice President for Human Spaceflight Systems was quoted in Universe Today and re-quoted in
http://phys.org/news/2016-05-orbital-atk-man-tended-lunar-orbit-outpost.html;
"A variety of supplementary subsystems would also need to be enhanced... We looked at what systems we would need to modify to make it a long term habitation module. Since we would not be docked to the ISS, we would need our own Environmental Control and Life Support Systems (ECLSS) out at lunar orbit to support the crew...
The service module would also need to be improved due to the high radiation environment and the longer time...
We also need to look at the thermal protection subsystem, radiation protection subsystem and power subsystems to support the vehicle for many years as opposed to the short time spent at the ISS. More power is also needed to support more science. We also need a propulsion system to get to the moon and maintain the vehicle...
All that work is getting looked at now to determine what we need to modify and upgrade and how we would do all that work,"
All this work won't be cheap, just to get to a ground based prototype will be hundreds of millions, let alone a flight-ready package.
Sounds like the changes to Cygnus are significant(expensive). Given these changes they may as well go to a 4.5m dia habitat and benefit from extra room for shielding and equipment. Both LM and Boeing are proposing  4.5m habitats.

For EAM a light low cost 3m dia Cygnus make sense but for DSH I think the 4.5m cans or BA330 are better.

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Offline a_langwich

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It would be helpful to look at the visiting vehicle schedule and see just how often ISS gets a supply ship. (http://www.nasa.gov/feature/visiting-vehicle-launches-arrivals-and-departures) Though the station can ride out a halt in deliveries for a few months they still need a pretty steady cadence of resupply to keep that margin and remain operational.

The margin can be whatever they want it to be.  Extra supplies = more money, and it also means less "freshness" in your supplies.  These can all be simulated in LEO by just docking one or more MPLM full of supplies.

You mean launching two or more resupply missions at the same time, then gradually using those supplies, and setting that up as the ISS resupply scheme for a few years?  Yes, you could do that, except for the research returns, and perhaps some trash issues.  But realize you are disrupting ISS use as a LEO laboratory--a capability which has had a long leadtime because it depends on winning the confidence of academic researchers that changes like this won't ruin some careers.  So this potentially screws up an investment of several hundred billion dollars to avoid making a new several billion dollar investment.

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Being in LEO the station gets other benefits too like better communications, more benign thermal and radiation environments, and quick return capability for the crew.

Communications can be simulated by inserting delays using software - that is pretty cheap and easy.

You can insert delays, but realize you have to insert delays in EVERY communication transmission to/from ISS.  And then sweat it out when it becomes really inconvenient, say when it makes planned spacewalks completely different and less productive, or prevents interviews and outreach from the station except through pre-arranged Q&As.  Again, you have to realize the severe disruption this represents to the current station, which was not designed for this.

Didn't you say your career experience was in manufacturing?  This is like backing _out_ of a just-in-time manufacturing and inventory scheme, because we are headed to a destination where communication and travel is constrained, and where the old store-and-forward mechanisms work better.  It is not enough to simply pick one part, store it on-site, time-delay your orders and deliveries for that part, and claim that you've simulated non-JIT.  NASA will need to examine all its processes, some things will absolutely not be as convenient, some may be more convenient.


Yes, thermal and radiation environments are different, but are we at a point where we're ready to test our solutions for long-term voyages?  I don't think so, since this cislunar hab will be made from the same designs we're using in LEO, so how is that any different?

It's a chicken and egg.  Need to do the research, in order to build a solution.  But needed to have built something, in order to do the research to get a solution.  It's not necessary for the first module to be perfect.  In fact, it might be better to go simple, and then try substituting various shielding options and measure the differences.

In general, though Cygnus forms the base of the design, the cis-lunar module won't be the same design we are using in LEO.  As the quote from Frank DeMauro above shows, there will be a lot of changes involved.  And presumably, since they won't proceed without buy-in from NASA, NASA will have every opportunity to decide whether it fits their needs or not.


As to "quick return capability for the crew", how is being 3-days away in cislunar space supposed to simulate being 100 days away on Mars?

Of course it's not.  It's supposed to represent a middle ground, where the dangers are intermediate between Mars and LEO.  Medically, you are looking for additional data points to see if things that looked potentially dangerous on ISS continue to get worse, or level out.  Look to see if the mental and physical health of the astro/cosmo/taikonauts holds up, or if issues crop up, what are they and can they be addressed.  If you are injecting a potentially toxic substance into humans, you would do it gingerly, carefully, and gradually.  Isolation, radiation, utterly unforgiving and alien surroundings, and life-or-death circumstances easily represent that.

The other difficulties deep space presents will still be there. Longer and longer duration flights can be tested in very similar conditions to interplanetary space before having to leave the Earth-Moon system. Once a crew can be kept alive long enough to do a Mars mission in cis-lunar space the same hardware, techniques, and lessons learned will with very minor modification keep a crew alive to Mars and back.

Yes, I've advocated for such capabilities, but as of today NASA has ZERO new technology to test beyond LEO.  None.

(It's not true that they have no new tech to test, there's been a fair amount of discussion of these issues and mockups and prototypes examined.  Nearly all you know about space radiation shielding, for example, is based on NASA research.  The DSH prototypes.  Etc.)  That's what these proposals are aimed at doing, further developing BLEO techs.  Do you want to stop NASA from developing these BLEO ideas, just so you can criticize them for not developing any BLEO hardware?


This Orbital ATK proposal is for aluminum enclosures, which we know are bad for radiation environments.  If we are going to go beyond LEO it should be with Bigelow type inflatables, or composite enclosures, since plastic is a much better radiation barrier and doesn't have the secondary radiation effects that aluminum does.

plastics != composites

Even though polyethylene may be a good shielding material, it doesn't mean the entire module has to be constructed out of the shielding material.  Whether Bigelow modules are better or worse protection from radiation is still undetermined, I believe, but it would certainly be worthwhile to add one to the cislunar outpost.  Both types of modules would require additional shielding, I think, and with that additional shielding it likely doesn't matter what the inside structure is. 

Offline Coastal Ron

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You mean launching two or more resupply missions at the same time, then gradually using those supplies, and setting that up as the ISS resupply scheme for a few years?  Yes, you could do that, except for the research returns, and perhaps some trash issues.  But realize you are disrupting ISS use as a LEO laboratory...

The ISS is a national research laboratory, specifically to be used for solving the problems related to humans being in space.  Yes there are efforts to fill in time with commercial projects, but the goal of the ISS is to solve as many problems as possible before committing to the next effort to expand humanity out into space.

So from that standpoint this hab is premature, since so far I haven't heard any cohesive list of technologies or techniques that can only be done on this hab, and have to be done now.

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It's a chicken and egg.  Need to do the research, in order to build a solution.  But needed to have built something, in order to do the research to get a solution.

We're not talking about magic here, we're talking physics.  It's something that can be quantified to a great degree, and even tested here on Earth.

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It's not necessary for the first module to be perfect.  In fact, it might be better to go simple, and then try substituting various shielding options and measure the differences.

I'll let NASA address this from 2005 in this article:  Plastic Spaceships - NASA Science

"...Some scientists believe that materials such as aluminum, which provide adequate shielding in Earth orbit or for short trips to the Moon, would be inadequate for the trip to Mars.

Barghouty is one of the skeptics: "Going to Mars now with an aluminum spaceship is undoable," he believes.
"

NASA scientists know the material they want to use, and it's not aluminum.  So why is an aluminum habitat being considered?  Because of politics.

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Do you want to stop NASA from developing these BLEO ideas, just so you can criticize them for not developing any BLEO hardware?

No.  But so far there is no plan, just a bunch of disconnected activities.

If the goal of the U.S. Government is to send humans to Mars, or wherever, then that should be the explicit goal.  From that a study group should be formed to identify the technologies and techniques that need to be mastered before we can go, and only then can a plan of action be formed that can start identifying for our politicians what the cost profile will be based on the schedules the politicians want.

We don't have an Apollo situation here - there is no world-wide political situation that demands humans to be sent into space.  So we do have the luxury of time.

Plus, if the goals are for the sake of humanity, and not for a specific national need, the U.S. Government should not be considering they have to go it alone.  There are other countries and private interests that want to go out in space, so why not figure out how to partner up and spread the responsibilities?  We would likely get there faster and for less taxpayer money.

I am EXTREMELY suspect of any plans one faction within one part of our government is pursuing that is not in complete synchronization with the other parts of our government.  That means there is something to hide.

So do I support BLEO activities?  Sure.  Is this activity worth supporting?  Not sure.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline rayleighscatter

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The ISS is a national research laboratory, specifically to be used for solving the problems related to humans being in space.  Yes there are efforts to fill in time with commercial projects, but the goal of the ISS is to solve as many problems as possible before committing to the next effort to expand humanity out into space.

So from that standpoint this hab is premature, since so far I haven't heard any cohesive list of technologies or techniques that can only be done on this hab, and have to be done now.
But by current schedules we won't have an ISS anymore when this is proposed to come online for research (2025).

Online RonM

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I am EXTREMELY suspect of any plans one faction within one part of our government is pursuing that is not in complete synchronization with the other parts of our government.  That means there is something to hide.

No, there's nothing to hide. That's just how the government works. It's a massive bureaucracy that stumbles along with many duplicate programs.

So do I support BLEO activities?  Sure.  Is this activity worth supporting?  Not sure.

A reasonable point of view.

Offline Coastal Ron

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The ISS is a national research laboratory, specifically to be used for solving the problems related to humans being in space.  Yes there are efforts to fill in time with commercial projects, but the goal of the ISS is to solve as many problems as possible before committing to the next effort to expand humanity out into space.

So from that standpoint this hab is premature, since so far I haven't heard any cohesive list of technologies or techniques that can only be done on this hab, and have to be done now.
But by current schedules we won't have an ISS anymore when this is proposed to come online for research (2025).

OK.  However there is no law that says we have to have a contiguous government presence in space.

Let's not do things for artificial reasons.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline okan170

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OK.  However there is no law that says we have to have a contiguous government presence in space.

Let's not do things for artificial reasons.

Well that makes sense; I've seen you advocate closing down and defunding NASA (on other sites) should a perfect plan not materialize and be funded 100% for many years. 

I respectfully submit that Congress disagrees, and I for once agree with them.

Offline Coastal Ron

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I am EXTREMELY suspect of any plans one faction within one part of our government is pursuing that is not in complete synchronization with the other parts of our government.  That means there is something to hide.

No, there's nothing to hide.

Sure there is.

Why do you think we haven't seen any information about the operational costs of the SLS from NASA?

Why do you think there are no cost estimates being made public for what it will cost NASA to go to Mars?

Because most of Congress would react in a negative way.

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That's just how the government works. It's a massive bureaucracy that stumbles along with many duplicate programs.

Sure, there are inefficiencies in any organization.  I don't expect perfection.

However I don't condone pork politics, and there is too much of that happening with NASA's budget.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline A_M_Swallow

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Perhaps I missed something. The article states,"The initial habitat concept includes pre-positioning a Cygnus-derived module in lunar orbit".  How does this evolve to a station at EML-1 or EML-2, or is that implied by the term cislunar?

Earth-Moon Lagrange point 1 (EML-1) and 2 are in cislunar space. They are in orbits around the Moon and also around the Earth. There are other lunar orbits, but the other orbits are less useful for going to Mars which matters since officially this is a STEP on the way to Mars.

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