Constellation Program

The next best thing to surface of moon

CINDER LAKE, Ariz. -- It looks, for all the world, like someplace out of this world, which is pretty much why NASA scientists and engineers recently journeyed here to a remote volcanic cinder field in northern Arizona.

In this barren, black moonscape of a place just outside Flagstaff, where NASA's Apollo astronauts trained for the first moon landings more than 40 years ago, history is repeating itself as the nation's space agency tests out concepts for the next generation of spacesuits, lunar rovers and robots that will be needed to send Americans back to the moon as soon as 2020.

The first time around, it was one small step for a man. But on the return trip, lunar rovers will...