A private company aims to send a robotic lander and rover to the lunar surface as soon as December of next year on a Falcon 9 rocket.
Astrobotic Technology Inc., a spinoff of Carnegie Mellon University, announced its contract with SpaceX Sunday. The Falcon 9's upper stage will slingshot Astrobotic's spacecraft on a four-day trip to the moon. Astrobotic's lander will enter lunar orbit, align itself and land autonomously, using guidance systems designed for driverless cars.
Few things have inspired as much mythology and mystique as the moon. We've credited it with triggering madness, housing deities and rousing werewolves. Even after the age of Enlightenment, astronomers hyped up the moon so much, that the more we found out about it, the more unglamorous it became. By the time Popular Science came around, most astronomers were fairly certain that the moon was dead. In fact, by 1887, we declared the moon a "frozen and dried-up globe, a mere planetary skeleton, that could no more support life than the Humboldt glacier could grow roses."
Would-be moon miners will need good lawyers if they want to keep the lunar resources they’re harvesting, according to space policy experts. The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 appears to permit extraction of lunar water and other resources, but it’s not clear who would own the materials once they’re extracted.
The Obama administration may have axed NASA's ambitious manned moon exploration plans for even an even more ambitious deep space exploration agenda, but for those developing the technologies that will one day take us to deep space the moon is just too ripe a testing ground to ignore. Lockheed Martin is pitching NASA what's being called an L2-Farside Mission that would launch a manned Orion spacecraft into a stationary halo orbit on the other side of the moon.
When astronauts next land on the moon, they're likely to whip up a celebratory dinner of freeze-dried macaroni and cheese. But a new self-building greenhouse could supplement that meal with a fresh salad to eat and oxygen to breathe.
The world’s leading space agencies are reportedly discussing the use of the International Space Station as a launch pad for a manned trip around the moon. The goal would be to test whether the station could be a base camp for missions to asteroids and Mars, the BBC reports today.
NASA is preparing a flurry of new spacecraft launches, planetary flybys and orbital insertions in the next two years, and is celebrating the "Year of the Solar System" to mark the occasion. Twenty-three months is actually a Martian year, so hey, it works.
The space agency has dozens of missions at any given time, and scientists are always maneuvering some spacecraft into a new orbit or into a new trajectory. But the next two years will see triple the usual amount of activity, NASA says. The second half of 2011 will be as busy, space-wise, as entire decades of the space age, according to Jim Green, NASA's planetary science director.
China launched its second moon-bound rocket Friday, laying a foundation for a possible unmanned moon landing by 2013. With the launch of Chang’e-2, China aims to solidify its spot among the moon-faring nations, with the eventual goal of a manned landing.
Though NASA has abandoned its moon base ambitions, that doesn't mean we won't see a permanent lunar presence sometime in the foreseeable future. Japan has plans to establish a robot moon base on the moon by 2020, with an initial robotic landing by 2015. Now the European Space Agency is upping the ante, announcing plans to put a mammoth lunar lander on the moon by the end of the decade, complete with a robotic rover that will study the site in anticipation of eventual human habitation.
A meteor strikes, damaging solar arrays and life support systems, and as you watch the billowing dust cloud move ominously toward your lunar camp, you have to restore critical systems and oxygen flow. Starting July 6, a new NASA video game will let you save the day, in 3-D.
NASA is releasing a multi-player game called Moonbase Alpha, wherein players assume the role of a moon exploration team member living in a lunar settlement.