There is a curious fact that as the fiftieth anniversary of the first Apollo mission approaches, a group of countries will perform lunar missions. Why are all of them returning to the moon? That is the question we are answering, according to a report in The Guardian.
On July 15, engineers at the Indian National Space Port in Sriharikota will send the Chandrayaan-2 probe, India’s second lunar exploration mission into Earth orbit, heading towards its target of the moon, where it will analyze chemical composition of soil and rocks.
The Indian spacecraft alone will not be on the moon, but the Chang’e-4 Chinese probe, Chinese lunar exploration mission that achieved the first soft landing on the far side of the Moon, on 3 January 2019 has been carrying out a lot of research since it landed on the other side of the moon in January.
At the same time, the United States has pledged to establish satellite laboratories in the near future, while Europe and Russia have also unveiled plans to launch complex tasks, and suddenly everyone is going to the moon.
Question is why?
Apollo program was the third United States human spaceflight program carried out by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which accomplished landing the first humans on the Moonfrom 1969 to 1972.
What suddenly made the moon so popular was that after the historic Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s Apollo mission, public and political attention quickly evaporated in the future human space flight.
Since then, there have been only a few missions to the moon after Apollo’s many missions, and human projects have been limited to low-Earth orbit missions, with particular attention to the International Space Station, yet this focus appears to be shifting far away.
David Parker, director of human and robotic exploration for ESA, says one of the reasons for this shift is that the moon’s exploitation has simply reached a stage that reflects past explorations on Earth. There are special similarities with access to the South Pole of the Moon.
“There’s a big gap in the cost between manned and unmanned missions,” says Martin Reese, a British astronomer. “With every advance in robots, there’s less need to put a man or woman in space or on The moon, the automatic probe saves money.”
The success of the Chang’e-4 Chinese probe provides an example of what can be achieved without human intervention. It is the first ever vehicle on the far side of the moon and has continued to operate without problems.
The exploitation of these developments in robots to help human activity on the moon serves as the backbone of the next US moon gateway project.
NASA plans to use the US space launch rocket and capsules with Orion crews to build a smaller version of the International Space Station orbiting the moon. Partners from Europe, Canada, Japan and other countries have been invited to participate, which will be set up over the next decade.