NASA is apparently hoping for the private sector -- the same space companies ferrying supplies to the ISS -- to take its place in low Earth orbit. But since the agency can't help or force them to make an ISS 2.0, it's now telling companies to take advantage of microgravity research while it's still shouldering most of the costs of sending studies to the space station. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden is even trying to convince the government to give tax incentives to companies that ask them to test materials or products in zero-g.
The agency's move to cislunar space doesn't come as a surprise: NASA has been talking about taking us farther out into space until we reach Mars for a long time. In fact, its new gargantuan rocket (the Space Launch System) could fly to the lunar orbit with four crew members aboard the Orion capsule as soon as 2021.
[Image credit: jaycatalano/Flickr]