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.
European aerospace giant EADS Astrium has been granted a $8.5 million contract to develop the lander and constituent surface roving robot, which together will weigh more than 1,500 pounds. The mission will be aimed at the lunar south pole, a region with sufficient sunlight to allow both lander and rover to operate for up to six months on solar power without experiencing prolonged darkness.
But the rover won't be the only robotic aspect to the mission. Without a human onboard to make the kind of cavalier landing usually only attempted by those with "the right stuff," the lander will have to navigate to the right location, survey the terrain below, and determine its own landing site. That means the systems on board won't just be taking orders from operators on earth, but actively avoiding obstacles and simultaneously evaluating various landing sites so the lander can choose the most desirable one.
Once on the ground, the lander will deploy a small rover equipped with a small suite of scientific instruments. But unlike other planetary rovers designed to carry out geological or atmospheric research, this mission will be focused narrowly on future human exploration. The ESA wants to sample minerals in the soil at the southern pole, as well as determine if there are sufficient reserves of water ice hiding in the shadows of craters.
The initial grant will fund a full study of the mission's feasibility, including its final cost which is expected to be in the hundreds of millions. If the initial review passes muster with Europe's space ministers in 2012, the mission could launch aboard a Soyuz rocket by the end of the decade.
2020!? its just the moon! Don't get me wrong I understand the difficulty of it, and the coolness factor, but still 10 years! and its not even a human mission. we did the human mission with out computer in under that time
Absolutely right. Where is the ambition? I get that when the US landed on the moon in ten years, we were striving to beat the Russians.
All the technology to go to the moon is already there to go and land on the moon.
A country or company just needs to step up and be real, and establish a manned lunar base.
JFK, we go to the moon because it is difficult. Lets it done permanently once and for all. I don't want to wait around for the bs anymore
Hey, the US was the first to stick a flag on the moon, so it belongs to us!
Behold, the 51st state of the union, the moon!
Anyone who wants to go there must pass border security!
Now now we all know the moon landing was fake.
It's really depressing that we went from having no space program at all to putting men on the moon in 10 years. More than 30 years later, with existing technologies and infrastructure, it still takes us ten years to get this done. I understand the cold war circumstances that made the original moon mission possible, but it doesn't change the fact that after more than 30 years of advancement, we still can't make this mission a reality. Its vision and drive that NASA lacks, not funding. NASA built the moon program from the ground up in the 50's. We have all the tech, all the know how, and still nothing happens. Depressing.
@paul20panda- It's the funding.
It is also about risks we were willing to take at the time, but not now. Not to mention there isn't any real backing from the nation like there was then.
tcolguin is 100% correct. At the time, the moon landing wasn't about science, it was about military. We were willing to loose people, because it was part of a larger war effort (cold war, but war all the same).
If our goal was to just put a person there, have them grab stuff, and come back - we could do that in a few weeks.
But we want real science and we have a much lower tolerance for killing people in the process. We could get a man to Mars. We just wouldn't get him back and he wouldn't have much time left when he got there (and would not be in a condition to do much more than take a few steps and plant a flag).
The original moonlanding cost a trillion dollars or so adjusted for inflation. The saturn V is at it's core an ICBM; sure, it's bigger, but many design elements are the same and it ran many of the same computer programmes developed for the ICBM, adapted for the needs of the Apollo programme.
No serious attempt was made to build a moon-base because that was never the intent; this was a useless prick-waving contest the americans had gotten them self into with the soviets.
May I also remind you that were still using the same hopelessly impractical chemical rockets?
Some technological development takes time (no matter the fact that its development increases exponentially over time).
As for the pissing contest we call the first space race, that's another aspect that drives technology; military application for national supremacy. Yesteryear it was rockets for modern day cruise missiles and ICBMs. Today it's computers and robots for human displaced, network centric warfare (and if you may note, computer, cybernetic, and robotic development is the fastest technological development worldwide; more so than aerospace which use to be the fastest growing).
It's not just science. It's never just science. They are weapons that can be used for assent in conflict. For this reason, much technological development used for space exploration (even if it's as close as our own moon) will be centered around robotic development, because robotic warfare is the latest fad. Has nothing to do with being cheaper, just more popular than the seemingly "unnecessary" endeavor of sending humans beyond low-earth orbit. Human space exploration to other terrestrial bodies will once again become popular once nations began to see the strategic, operational, and tactical relevance of positioning people and assets in places beyond Earth (creating a supreme military advantage for a given sovereignty allowing such nation to reign supreme over all others through economic stability, unlimited pools of resources, the ability to conquer all enemies, and approve or deny access to space by other sovereign entities. As the signature goes below...)
"Welcome! to the Federation Starship SS Buttcrack!!!"