Yesterday was the fortieth anniversary of the moon landing, which renewed a lot of public interest in space travel. I like to regularly check in on space.com and any sort of news articles posted in regard to these subjects, and thought McJAWN readers would be interested in the exciting projects going on today.
Going Back to the Moon
NASA has some exciting plans, and they involve not only going back to the moon, but staying there for weeks or even months. The image above is an artist’s rendering of what the Constellation project will look like. This endeavor was launched in 2004 and hopes to see us back by 2020. The major issue with such an ambitious project is being able to transport the high volume of supplies necessary, including food, water, and fuel, but keeping all of this lightweight. They also need the technologies necessary to create habitats on the surface of the moon, and the currents rockets and shuttles we have can’t transport all of this. The new rockets, Ares I and Ares V, are being made larger, longer, and lighter.
Another major issue with this project is funding. Things are very different from how it was during the Apollo launches. The country was excited about space travel. During the first launch coverage went uninterrupted for 30 straight hours, and everyone was watching. With each mission people got less and less interested, and by the last Apollo mission in 1972 networks stopped doing full coverage. Without public interest, the government will not push to expand their budget, which is tough for projects that cost tens of billions of dollars.
Even with these issues the project is not a distant dream. The new spacesuits will be lighter, able to recycle sweat and urine back into water, have fuel cells for power, and will be made of materials that resist the wear and tear of lunar dust (a major problem the first time around). The rockets are better too. With the size increase and smaller computers that can do more, we’ll be able to bring six astronauts onto the surface of the moon, as opposed to two who land and one who stayed in orbit. We have it all planned out (which you can see in this animation), and all we need to do is make it happen.
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x-posted to McJAWN