Traveling ended in December 1972, when Apollo 17 left the moon high and flew home. Since then, no man, no matter how American, has escaped from Earth's orbit.
President Donald Trump's government says he is determined to change it. At the end of March, Vice President Mike Pence announced the & # 39; official policy & # 39; from the White House to bring American astronauts back to the surface of the moon in the next five years. Such & # 39; n short term sounds cool – maybe too ambitious. Anyway, the new landing on the US moon will not be successful if you have a different lunar footprint below. The new mission should focus on the development of technology, infrastructure and commercial motives to ensure that such visits take place more than a few times per century.
John F. Kennedy, whose support for fabulously expensive expeditions to space, was fueled by the fear that the Soviets would first fly to the moon had different goals. To ensure that Americans reached the moon earlier than the Soviets, NASA found about 5% in the 1960s. federal budget. Once the mission was finished, the financing was reduced. Today, NASA receives only around 0.5 percent. federal budget.
In the absence of a clear threat from abroad, the one-time US research program is undermined by administrative slowness and government funds are targeted at local projects. The Space Launch System (SLS), a $ 12 billion rocket that Americans had to return to the moon, has more than doubled its costs and lags behind the set deadline for several years. At the current rate, the rocket will not fly the Americans to the moon until 2028 – although Congress approved its financing 18 years ago.
As an entrepreneur, D. Brief never showed great interest in space, and becoming president was even less. However, he is obsessed with a technological race with China. Although China has been lagging behind the United States for several decades, in recent years China has been moving from its moon to the moon for several months and plans to send more in the next decade, and in the 1930s he is considering the possibility of astronauts. Moreover, the Chinese government does not hide the moon from being seen as a strategic military and economic investment.
In support of China's ambitions, Trump's board increased NASA's budget, supported regulatory reforms to promote space exploration, and began the development of military space forces. It seems that it is time for America to restore its leading position in the moon.
It won't be easy or cheap. The main structure of the mission will depend on the SLS rocket, which is not yet built around the moon, a space station and a personally created moon bird. Ars Technica announces that NASA can claim up to $ 8 billion for such a project. dollars per year.
Although D. Trump clearly expects the merit for landing on the moon until the end of the possible second term, such a rush is indeed justified. Until March, NASA had only vague plans to fly people to the moon in 2028 based on a draft prepared during Obama's management year. Experience from decades shows that expensive plans for conquering space, which extend over several presidential conditions, are usually canceled. Accelerating things – and assuming it can be done safely – gives the project more chance.
In addition, the five-year deadline forces NASA contractors – particularly Boeing Co. and others – to expose their budget and postpone the launch of SLS to prove that their technologies are more than local projects. If they are unable to meet their obligations within the set time, it makes no sense to continue to finance them, especially at a time when commercial space companies such as Elon Musc Space Exploration Technologies Corp. and Jeff Bezoso Blue Origin LLC are developing their own lunar research program & # 39; s.
However, an American descent on the moon will only be an expensive cascade trick if there is no clear plan – and infrastructure that makes such missions available and routine. This means that the needs of the commercial sector must be included in the mission planning from the outset. Only then can NASA expect to create a permanent lunar base that supports both public and private initiatives (and counteracts similar Chinese plans).
The first signs promise nothing good. NASA & # 39; s decision to launch an expensive SLS mission is preventing commercial space companies that want to make money by traveling to the moon. Furthermore, it is not clear what the goal is to have an expensive space station revolve around the moon if the commercial space community has shown little interest up to now and was not planning to use it for exploring the moon.
The good news is that NASA has strongly emphasized the belief that commercial space will play a role in the new Moon mission. Before Congress commits to finance the mission, NASA must work out a clear plan on how the first mission will lay the foundation for the second mission, as well as the US permanent settlement on the moon. A successful landing on the moon should leave this behind more than the footprints of the shoe.