SpaceX, Blue Origin, Google: When companies want to visit the moon

Category: Science Written by Sean Lennox 198 1

 

Since 1972, no man has set foot on the Moon. But within a few years, the lunar star might once again see astronauts pass by. The recent announcements of SpaceX and Jeff Bezos, the boss of Amazon have revived an old dream. Regarding SpaceX, the company of Elon Musk aims to take two “space tourists” to make a trip around the Moon as early as 2018. A project deemed technically feasible.

The second project, Jeff Bezos, was unveiled by the Washington Post last week.Through its company Blue Origin , Nasa proposes to develop a kind of cargo ship to carry material from the Earth and place it on the moon. A kind of space deliverer, with the stated ambition to create, eventually, a base implanted on the lunar ground with a human presence.

Business Interest

These ads do not happen by chance. During the election campaign in the United States, Donald Trump had shown some interest in a new US space program. The various announcements of companies are therefore a way of positioning themselves vis-a-vis the new administration … and to obtain funds.

“Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos expect to be paid for by public money,” says Francis Rocard, responsible for the programs of exploration of the solar system at Cnes . “Elon Musk has already recovered funds from NASA for the ISS ( the International Space Station ), which allows him to develop his other programs,” adds the specialist.

Towards a lunar village?

Bernard Foing, director of ESA’s European Space Agency, said the programs announced by the two entrepreneurs “are complementary and give a boost to all other programs. They can even be a stimulating complement or an alternative to government programs. ”

Thus, Jeff Bezos’s “cargo ship” program could be part of the “lunar village”, an international cooperation project led by ESA. The latter plans to install a “robotic village” on the moon, which would serve as a base for the rovers charged to explore the surface.

In 2013, the Chinese have also deposited theirs. The Google Lunar X Prize , which puts four trade missions in competition, should also allow more rovers to be deployed. The project of the boss of Amazon is not so incredible: “Alunir a freighter, it is to have a rocket that goes down, explains Bernard Foing: as the Moon does not have atmosphere, it is necessary to control the speed of descent . There is a very strong similarity to what SpaceX and Blue Origin have developed to recover their launchers. ”

 

The dream … and the reality

Once this robotic village is installed, ESA aims to set up a human base by 2030. This would allow, among other things, “to develop the science of the Moon, to use its hidden face unpolluted by waves To set up radio telescopes, or to learn how to survive off the Earth, “says Bernard Foing.
If the project can make you dream, there are still many obstacles to overcome. “SpaceX and BlueOrigin are carriers,” says Francis Rocard, “they are only interested in the rocket, but that’s only part of the problem.” For example, the presence of water on the moon is attested and could facilitate a human presence, but its extraction has never been attempted and could prove very complex. To unhook the moon, it will not be enough to have the head in the stars.

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One thought on “SpaceX, Blue Origin, Google: When companies want to visit the moon

  1. Zoe Faes

    Hello!

    I am very happy about future prospects by governmental and private organizations alike concerning planetary science, however, I would like to point out some inconsistencies in the information presented in this article:
    – NASA does not own Blue Origin, as it is in fact majoritarily owned by Jeff Bezos (according to Jeff Foist in the article “Blue Origin plans growth spurt this year” which can be found at SpaceNews.)
    – NASA’s current mission plans do not include shipping cargo to the lunar surface (according to the mission plan unveiled at the 48th Lunar and Planetary Science conference in March 2017), however the European Space Agency does have a vision which includes a moon base.
    – Bernard Foing, although an esteemed scientist at ESA and Executive Director of the International Lunar Exploration Working Group, is not the Director of the European Space Agency. The current Director General of ESA is Johann-Dietrich Wörner as of July 2015. (“ESA’s European Space Agency” is an incorrect formulation as ESA is an acronym which stands for “European Space Agency” and there is no division or department within ESA which bears the same name)

    These minor corrections are in no way meant to detract from the main focus of the article, and if they were to be incorrect, I would very happily acknowledge it and retract my suggestions for corrections. The aim of this comment is to improve the quality of information made available to the public.

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