Between the Europeans, who announced last January that the ASE(European Space Agency) intends on sending a lunar mission by 2025, the Chinese who published the first pictures of the far side of the moon a few weeks ago and the Russians who want to colonise the moon in 20 years, the conquest of the Moon is beginning to look like an international race!
"We have to go back as soon as possible"
NASA recently launched an appeal to US based companies to develop reusable systems for a lunar landing and now it has gone one step further in its moon conquest plans. NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine revealed their intention to accelerate the movement by sending American astronauts to the moon “as fast as possible” by utilising private companies.
“This time when we go to the moon, we intend on staying there. We are not going to be content with just a flag ora footprint and simply return home and then go back in 50 years,” he said.
The last time someone stirred up the dust on the moon was way back in 1972! Since Eugene Cernan the American astronaut stepped foot on the moon during the Apollo 17 mission, no other person has left any trace since. Other more distant explorations like those of Mars, Jupiter and Saturn were favoured over the moon in recent years.
A permanent base project
But things are changing now and NASA wants to give a boost by reconnecting with its first love.
It will provide the means but also wants to collaborate with private companies who will be pre-selected next May. Initially, the agency and its future partners will work on the construction of an unmanned vessel that is expected to be launched by 2024.
The second launch is planned by 2026 with the creation of Gateway, a small space station placed into lunar orbit. It will act as a bridge for the journey to and from the moon. Unlike the International Space Station, it will not be permanently inhabited.
The administrator of NASA also hopes to send astronauts to the moon by 2028 and not just to replant a star-spangled flag.
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