• Thu. Aug 18th, 2022

The Moon will become a ‘pit stop’ for humans to travel to other parts of the solar system

ByRandall B. Phelps

Jul 23, 2022

The moon could become a massive rocket swap and pit stop for humans to travel to other parts of the solar system by 2069 – the 100th anniversary of the first lunar landing.

This month marks 53 years since humanity took a giant leap forward and NASA’s Apollo 11 mission placed American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the surface of Earth’s brightest satellite.

Now, space scientists around the world are pondering how the Moon could become a “switchable” launch pad over the next half-century.

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“You’re not too far (to think there might be) a Maccas drive-thru,” joked Swinburne University of Technology astrophysicist Sara Webb.

Currently, scientists are trying to calculate whether it would be possible to put a space station in orbit around the moon, with a view to sending people to Mars or even deeper into space.

“I think that will be the future. Our next step away from earth is to figure out how we can use the moon to our advantage,” Webb told AAP this week.

“It’s a perfect testing ground, a sandbox to be able to test how to build habitats, how to grow plants? Can we mine the moon?

To that end, NASA plans to bring humans back to the surface of the moon in three years.

Later this year, NASA will launch Artemis I – the first in a series of Artemis missions to support future human exploration of the moon and Mars.

Artemis I is an uncrewed test flight of the Orion spacecraft, boosted by what NASA says is the “world’s most powerful rocket”, which will head for the moon.

Orion will fly 100 kilometers above the surface and use the moon’s gravitational force to project itself thousands of kilometers beyond, where it will remain in orbit for six days to collect data as its performance is evaluated by NASA mission control on earth.

Australia will play a key role in international efforts to return humans to the Moon in 2025. Credit: AAP

Artemis II, scheduled for launch in 2024, will be the first crewed test flight of four astronauts and pave the way for the Artemis III mission to land the first woman and next man on the moon in 2025.

It will be the first crewed lunar landing on the Moon since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.

Former Space Shuttle astronaut and NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy this month highlighted the purpose of the Artemis missions and hailed the “great strides” Australia has made since the agency was established Australian space in 2018.

“The timing is very opportune from our perspective at NASA, especially as we build a coalition to return humans to the Moon, this time to stay there,” she told a forum. space industry in Adelaide via video link.

‘Bewildering’

When humans first landed on the moon on July 20-21, 1969 – using a mere fraction of the technology found in an average iPhone – talks began about creating a permanent base for astronauts to to get from Earth.

Once science fiction, it could now become a reality, Webb said.

“It sounds mind-boggling,” she admits.

“But we are entering the era of reusable rockets… which makes the cost per launch much more affordable.

“It’s super conceivable that in the near future a rocket ride will cost the same as a round-the-world ticket.”

In the latter part of the 1900s, nations competed in the space race, but nowadays participants, including private industry, tend to work together regardless of nationality.

“Now is a good time for nations to collaborate with each other, to try to achieve common goals – and one of them, exciting, is to return to the moon,” Webb said. .

But not all countries agree. China and Russia have accused the United States of trying to implement international space laws favoring its own interests.

The US Artemis Accords, which are a prerequisite for countries participating in the Artemis program, are an updated operational version of the Outer Space Treaty.

Accord state space is to be used for peaceful purposes only and war bases are not permitted under any circumstances.

“But space is like international waters,” Webb said. “How can you impose this treaty? »