The Orlando Sentinel reported last week that NASA's next major mission could be the construction of a "gateway spacecraft" outpost that would send astronauts 277,000 miles from Earth, farther than ever before. The outpost would hover in orbit on the far side of the moon, support a small astronaut crew, and function as a staging area for future missions to the moon and Mars. The spacecraft would be much more remote than the current space station, which orbits about 200 miles above Earth. The distance raises questions about how to protect astronauts from the radiation of deep space — and rescue them if something goes wrong.

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