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NASA, its partners and China have focused on future lunar missions



This December marks the 50th anniversary of Apollo 8, the first manned mission on the Moon. Apollo 8 did not land, but circled the moon and returned safely to Earth. Now, the study of the moon through the earth seems to be able to continue and expand.

That was at least the impression of the symposium "Return to the Moon – Partnership of Government, Science and Industry", sponsored by the Universities Space Research Association and the Space Policy Institute of George Washington University. The event featured a "who's who" in lunar research and exploration from these groups.

Last December, the Trump government released the "Space Policy Directive 1

," a change in national space policy that includes a US-led integrated program private sector partner for a human return to the moon, followed by missions to Mars and NASA's 1965 statement, Robert Lightfoot, said Wednesday: "NASA's plan to return to the Moon has been submitted to the administration and Congress in FY-19 Has granted money to it. "

" Space has become an arm of foreign policy and brings with it a lot of international cooperation. NASA is trying to involve science and industry in these efforts, "he added.

He also said," NASA is a source of inspiration and leadership, which is so important. NASA does not give up on Mars, and the International Space Station is an important part of our efforts. We have to practice – are our systems ready? We can learn from the moon because it's so much easier and keep an eye on Mars.

A panel of Lunar experts from government, industry and science gave insights into "Post Apollo – New Moon" on Wednesday, March 28, 2018. (WTOP / Greg Redfern)

Lightfoot debated what was at the heart of the NASA and its partner will be when they go to the Moon and Mars: the Lunar Orbital Platform Gateway The gateway, as it is called, is expected to be in orbit around the 2020s, much smaller than the ISS and will not be manned full-time, it is expected that the robot operation for research and maintenance will complement the crew's visits.

"The Gateway allows us to come and go to Mars (and the lunar surface) and ours We have a lot to do with international partners, "said Lightfoot.

Other lunar lights reported the return to the moon, including Dr. Harrison Schmitt, Apollo 17 Lunar Module Pilot and de 12. Man walking on the moon. His comrade Moonwalker, the late Capt. Gene Cernan, USN, was the last human (to date) to walk the moon in December 1972.

Schmitt talked about the Space Policy Guideline 1 since he was there in the White House signing the directive. "It's geopolitically imperative for the free world and the US," he said.

I asked him if China was the "geopolitical imperative" he referred to, and he replied, "China is what I'm referring to, it's like what we experienced in the 1960s . "

The race for the Moon became a competition between the US and the former Soviet Union during this period. It was a facet of the Cold War between the superpowers that brought significant propagandistic, political, and military implications.

China is an emerging global economic and military power that also has space ambitions that include the Moon. It has flown Taikonauts or Chinese astronauts into space, and its Tiangong-1 space station is in an uncontrolled de-orbit, which is expected to end this weekend.

China successfully sent its lander Chang & # 39; e 3 and escorted Yutu Rover to the moon in 2013. It has even more ambitious moon landing missions planned from 2018, involving the return of a probe to Earth and the Moon's very first distant moon landing. China also designs manned spacecraft and rockets that can send Taikonauts to the moon.

A slide from the symposium "Return to the Moon – Government, Science and Industry Partnership" on Wednesday, March 28, 2018. [WTOP / Greg Redfern]

Expert panel members, including Schmitt, described the possible technique and resources that are available on and off the moon in the lunar orbit. The moon has many minerals; Water chemically trapped in its rocks and frozen polar craters; abundant sunlight for the supply of the earth and the moon, as well as an isotope of helium generated by the sun and deposited over billions of years in the lunar regolith – the churned surface of the moon – that could drive future nuclear fusion reactors.

The theme at the symposium was his "Post Apollo – A New Moon", which led to a new space-earth economy and, with the Gateway, enabled for the first time a space refueling architecture in space history.

Commercial Moon Landers are becoming a reality that NASA wants to buy for their missions. Lunar module, both robotic and manned, is planned for future lunar landing robots

NASA is preparing to return to manned flights using US resources using its commercial crew program utilizing spacecraft built by Boeing and Space X. to serve the ISS.

NASA's backbone to bring crew to the Moon, the Asteroid Belt, and Mars is the Orion Spacecraft and Space Launch System (SLS). The first unmanned flight from Orion and SLS is Exploration Mission-1, a 25-day lunar orbit flight and beyond, scheduled for launch in the early 2020s.

Combine the gateway, Orion and SLS, as well as NASA partners from science, industry and international, a "return to the moon" seems very likely. China is certainly focused on that as well. It seems humanity is ready to return to the moon – and to stay, this time.

Follow my daily blog to keep up with the latest news in astronomy and space exploration. You can email me at skyguyinva@gmail.com


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