Exactly 50 years ago this week on July 20, 1969. The Eagle lunar module landed on the moon making Neil Armstrong the first man to step on our rocky satellite. The USA made history and astonished the whole world with its Apollo 11 mission.
Humans initiated the space exploration to gain power in politics which later turned into scientific research. Now its all about money !. The new Space Era also referred to as “Space 4.0” by scientists and politicians has new key players. Demand for better communication networks, thirst for resources and curiosity for what lies beyond has geared up the excitement level. Every year countries spend billions of dollars to stay ahead in this space-age gold rush.
However, it is very surprising how USSR who once led the Space Race was surpassed by the USA. USSR put the first satellite in orbit in 1957, crashed the first object on the moon in 1959, sent the first human in space Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin on April 12, 1961, sent the first woman in space Valentina Tereshkova on June 16, 1963. They even hold the record for the first Asian, the first black man on space years before Americans could.
Moon Upcoming Missions
NASA is planning to be the first country to put a woman on the lunar surface by 2024. NASA’s Artemis Program will entangle several components. One of them being the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, a station orbiting the moon to extend human’s existence in space and provide a common platform for scientific research. Space Launch System (SLS) – a gigantic rocket will carry the gateway. The Orion Deep Space Capsule will carry four crew members who will stay at the gateway for a period of 30 -90 days.
With Chandrayaan-II India is planning its steps meticulously towards becoming the fourth nation to land a spacecraft on the moon. A whooping sum of 1000 Crores is being spent by the government of India. Chandrayaan -II will explore the south pole of the moon for the presence of water. The mission that was supposed to take off on July 15 has been postponed due to some leakage in the cryogenic engine.
Blue Origin a private space exploration company unveiled a full-scale model of its Blue Moon Lander. The Lander will be powered by a B-37 engine, fueled by hydrogen and oxygen. Jeff Bezos – the owner of Blue Origins, in his speech at JFK Space Summit, mentioned about harvesting ice. These building blocks of water will function as rocket propellants. Helium-3, an energy-producing isotope is believed to be abundant on the moon that could power future fusion rockets.
The moon race has sent an alarm to both private and public sectors. Both sectors are making an effort to claim resources and establish human outposts. Our neighbor China is not behind, the Chang e-5 mission which it plans to launch within this year will bring back samples of the moon first time in four decades. As more countries land on the moon there might be conflicts regarding ownership rights. Ye Peijan head of China’s lunar programme has rightly said, ” If we don’t go there now even though we’re capable of doing so, then we will be blamed by our descendants. If others go there, then they will take over, and you won’t be able to go even if you want to. This is reason enough. “