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.
It’s been a great day for interplanetary H2O. First we hear that Mars was once covered in a massive, deep ocean. Now scientists at the Carnegie Institution's Geophysical Laboratory are reporting that the moon may harbor 100 times more water than previously thought.
Japan's robot love is set to go out of this world with a plan to put a bipedal robot on the moon by 2015. Yet the bipedal robot's main mission seems curiously lacking in ambition – it's tasked only with planting the Japanese flag on the lunar surface, according to CrunchGear.
Maybe the moon isn't as inhospitable a place as we first thought when we landed there more than 40 years ago. First we found surface water at the lunar south pole, and now the the Indian spacecraft Chandrayaan-1 has found a miniature magnetic field on the moon's surface which could serve as a minimally protective barrier from the harsh solar winds that would greatly complicate habitation there.
Robert Bigelow's inflatable space stations could get another look from NASA because of the space agency's new direction, but the space hotel visionary has already set his sights on the moon. He has begun planning for inflatable modules that could serve as a lunar base for up to 18 astronauts, SPACE.com reports.
A robotic rocket that can repeatedly take off and land vertically would have endless uses: As a lunar lander that can park itself at a fuel station, gas up, and immediately relaunch to ferry supplies elsewhere on the moon. Or as a space-tourism craft that can touch down safely on helicopter-like landing pads. That's why four years ago, NASA opened the $1-million Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge, a competition designed to encourage private companies to develop low-cost rockets with the precision, power and quick turnaround needed for moon and other missions.
China's new moon rocket design is in the class of the old Saturn V that once launched U.S. Apollo astronauts to the moon. The China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology says that the proposed rocket would have a thrust of 3,000 metric tons, just shy of the 3,470 metric tons of thrust generated by the Saturn V's first stage, Aviation Week reports.
Last year's "moon bombing" proved that water ice exists beneath the lunar south pole, but new findings from a NASA instrument aboard an Indian orbiter have determined that tons of water ice is hiding on the lunar surface in permanently shadowed craters at the north pole as well.