Nasa is ramping up plans to go back to the moon on a more permanent basis. The space agency has been talking up its plans to create a lunar base on our celestial neighbour that astronauts will use as a gateway to the rest of the solar system.
It will be called – fittingly – ‘the Gateway’. ‘We are going to the moon with innovative new technologies and systems to explore more locations across the surface than we ever thought possible,’ explained Nasa administrator Jim Bridenstine, writing in online magazine OZY. Nasa is going back to the Moon (ESA/Foster + Partners) ‘This time, when we go to the moon, we will stay.’ Bridenstine said that the space community has been given a mandate by President Trump to return to the moon. After all, the last time humans visited it was 1972.
‘More than two-thirds of Americans today were not even alive to witness the six successful Apollo moon landings, myself included,’ he said. ‘Extraordinary as they were, for many the lunar expeditions are facts from history books or stories told by older relatives.’ The space agency has urged scientists and engineers to help it create habitats (Liquifer Systems Group, 2018) Bridenstine added: ‘The Gateway will be the home base for the first reusable human lunar lander system.
It’s a sustainable approach that creates more commercial opportunities, which is necessary for long-term human space exploration.’ Even before humans set foot back on the dusty lunar surface, Nasa has plenty of non-humanoid moon plans in the pipeline.
Looks inviting, doesn’t it? (Rex Features) The agency will send ‘new science instruments and technology demonstrations’ to the moon’s surface on ‘commercial cargo moon deliveries’ in the future. Which possibly means that Elon Musk’s SpaceX has landed some lucrative new contracts. Nasa says it plans for these missions to be in operation by the end of 2020.