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posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday July 05 2017, @04:11AM   Printer-friendly
from the shoot-for-the-moon dept.

Submitted via IRC for TheMightyBuzzard

As Japan becomes the latest country or private entity planning to send a person to the moon, takes a look at some of the most ambitious plans for a future manned lunar mission.

Whichever country or corporation returns a human to our celestial neighbor will be the first to do so since NASA's Apollo missions concluded in the early 70s. In fact, whoever ventures to the moon will be the first to go beyond low-Earth orbit since 1972.

Space exploration has generally been the preserve of nation states and their taxpayer-funded space agencies. More recently though, private companies, most notably Elon Musk's SpaceX, have been leading the way in the aerospace sector.

Billionaire Musk recently laid out his plans to colonize Mars. For some, however, a return to the moon would provide good preparation for the months-long trek to the Red Planet.

Here, takes a look at some of the frontrunners in lunar mission planning.

Source: RT

Original Submission

Related Stories

Russia Assembles Engineering Group for Lunar Activities and the Deep Space Gateway 8 comments

Deep Space Gateway (DSG) is a planned space station in lunar orbit. The U.S. and Russia signed an agreement last year to work on the station's development. Now Russia has created an engineering department inside the RKK Energia space corporation in order to plan the nation's lunar exploration, including a possible manned landing:

Officially, Moscow has been on a path to put a human on the Moon since 2013, when President Putin approved a general direction for human space flight in the coming decade. The program had been stalling for several years due to falling prices for oil, the main source of revenue for the Russian budget. Last year, however, the Russian lunar exploration effort was given a new impetus when the Kremlin made a strategic decision to cooperate with NASA on the construction of a habitable outpost in the orbit around the Moon, known as Deep Space Gateway, DSG.

Although the US saw the primary goal of the DSG as a springboard for missions to Mars, NASA's international partners, including Russia, have been pushing the idea of exploring the Moon first. On the Russian side, RKK Energia led key engineering studies into the design of the DSG and participated in negotiations with NASA on sharing responsibilities for the project.

To coordinate various technical aspects of lunar exploration, the head of RKK Energia Vladimir Solntsev signed an order late last year to form Center No. 23Ts, which would report directly to him. According to a document seen by Ars Technica, the group will be responsible for developing long-term plans for human missions to the vicinity of the Moon and to its surface, as well as for implementing proposals for international cooperation in lunar missions. This is a clear signal that NASA might soon have a new liaison in Russia for all things related to the DSG. The same group will also take care of all the relevant domestic interactions between RKK Energia and its subcontractors.

Unlike the ISS, the DSG should not require any orbital boost burns and could reach any altitude above the Moon using ion thrusters.

Here are two op-eds from last year about the Deep Space Gateway:

Terry Virts: The Deep Space Gateway would shackle human exploration, not enable it

John Thornton: The Deep Space Gateway as a cislunar port

Related articles:

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 05 2017, @04:43AM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 05 2017, @04:43AM (#535056)


    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 05 2017, @04:57AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 05 2017, @04:57AM (#535058)

      Can't happen, won't happen.

  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 05 2017, @05:12AM (7 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 05 2017, @05:12AM (#535059)

    America has been becoming an ever more divided country. I think a big part of the reason for this is a lack of direction for people. This generation is looking to be the first to actually earn less, on average, than their parents' generation. The US education and performance in the sciences continues its decline. And just in general I think we're a nation with no clear direction. So we are seemingly just increasingly spending our time teaching each other down. I think big scale projects that everybody could not only take pride in but even begin to be a part of are the sort of things that could help give America purpose and direction again. Imagine if we made it a goal to have 5,000 people residing indefinitely on Mars in 10 years. That sounds impossible, but it's not even close to it. We're vastly closer to that than we were to putting a man on the moon in 1962 - and we did that in 7 years. Enable public participation and stream each and every step of it along the way from the planning to the selection to the training and everything. Give people something to remind them that America, and being American, is actually something to be proud of again - and not just for our accomplishments decades ago that put us where we are today.

    • (Score: 2) by Fluffeh on Wednesday July 05 2017, @06:13AM (4 children)

      by Fluffeh (954) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday July 05 2017, @06:13AM (#535064) Journal

      Give people something to remind them that America, and being American, is actually something to be proud of again

      Keep the peasants distracted with bread and circuses - except the circus is twitter, and the russians and the ongoing media feeding trough, and the bread, well, you're actually taking the bread away from the poor here, in the form of stripping healthcare, minimum wages and the like. But you're telling them that it's good that you are doing it - and although polls are showing a growing unhappiness... for the most part, the peasants seem to be content with having all that taken away from them.

      Why bother with any of this aspiration stuff that might come off if everyone works hard and makes less money and has to work hard and stuff and it might only just happen and everyone has to work oh-so-hard to make it maybe happen....

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by takyon on Wednesday July 05 2017, @06:26AM

        by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Wednesday July 05 2017, @06:26AM (#535065) Journal

        VR does not require rocket science or expensive space travel. If you do it right [], people can use VR while living in pods [] on universal basic income.

        The bread can come from a plastic tube. And you ain't seen nothing like these circuses.

        [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []
      • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 05 2017, @09:05AM (2 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 05 2017, @09:05AM (#535110)

        I definitely think things are connected, but not really in the way you're implying.

        Even the most despicable examples of 'profit over everything' today at one time were companies really trying to change the world and provide a great new service. McDonalds for instance was something that had never been done before. Getting food to people fast, really fast, and perfectly reliable? Without the benefit of hindsight it sounds like a utopian operation. The problem is that once these companies 'win' they lose any sense of purpose. What next? Well there's nothing really. Just make more money. How much? Who cares, just as long as its more than last year! More! More! More!! Food quality goes down, working conditions go down, healthfulness goes down, profit margins go up.

        Something like actually beginning to work to colonize another planet is something that suddenly gives even the biggest of companies a new massive blank slate of opportunity and possibilities. The goal becomes not to just squeeze more profit out of doing what they've been doing for decades - but to be able to create, innovate, and become the best once again. We need a new direction. Capitalism works great at the beginning but deteriorates as opportunities and inequality increases. We can press the reboot button without tearing society down.

        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday July 05 2017, @01:55PM (1 child)

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday July 05 2017, @01:55PM (#535176) Journal

          The problem is that once these companies 'win' they lose any sense of purpose. What next? Well there's nothing really.

          Ok, and what's the problem with that? Let us note that providing fast food is not a goal that you walk away from. It's an ongoing thing. And since, the US has evolved a huge variety of restaurant approaches. So McDonald's achievement wasn't the end.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 05 2017, @07:34PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 05 2017, @07:34PM (#535378)

            If The Market wanted Man to walk on the Moon it would have made Earth cheese prohibitively expensive.

    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by khallow on Wednesday July 05 2017, @01:51PM

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday July 05 2017, @01:51PM (#535172) Journal

      This generation is looking to be the first to actually earn less, on average, than their parents' generation.

      Let us note two things. First, the actual generation that ran into those problems were the younger baby boomers who had to deal with the economic mess of the 1970s, higher living costs (being the last of the boomer surge to buy into any housing market, for example), and depleted pension funds (for example, they'll probably be the first people to get less out of Social Security, adjusted for inflation and time value, that they put in). Sounds familiar?

      Second, why are we going to pieces over this? The world wasn't guaranteed to be perfect. Setbacks like this (global labor competition over the past half century) are inevitable. We can't control what happens to us, but we can control how we respond. US response has been poor. More people seem to worry about rich people getting too much rather than having jobs, for example.

      Third, we have this call in your post for some big, strong authority figure to lead us by the hand to some great pyramid-building project. You could just do it instead. One of the interesting things about space exploration and many other fields, is that it's becoming a lot easier for small groups to do big projects. Wikipedia and Linux, for example, weren't started by some big government project. They were started by people who just did things that grew into amazingly useful tools.

      The problem with pyramids built by government power is that eventually the government support goes away and the pyramids crumble. That's what happened with the Apollo program. We don't have a serious presence on the Moon now because the big government project didn't create one then. Similarly, having thousands of people on Mars isn't going to be useful, if they can't support themselves once government becomes disinterested and funding goes elsewhere.

      Let us also note that we have yet to see any political leaders, world-wide who would have the vision (and political capital) to do things like colonize Mars.

      Also, I think we need to consider that the divisiveness can't be dealt with by such projects. Apollo didn't help the US in the long run. My view is that the driver is ultimately public funding. In the greater society, there are plenty of opportunities for mutually beneficial activities such as trade or friendship. But public funding is only obtained by taking from someone else, both taxpayers and any other potential consumers of public funding. That leads to society-wide conflicts which otherwise wouldn't exist (I believe 2/3 of the whining about baby boomers to give a prominent generational conflict example is due to the imminent curtailment of social safety net benefits for generations past them and government domestic policy disagreement). Public funding is being proposed here as a short cut, but it will create more conflict in the process.

      Finally, let us consider that many of the alleged benefits of Martian colonization could be done on Earth (such as more STEM education and research). Perhaps we ought to just do them rather than requires some expensive project that is at best peripheral to the things we supposedly really want to do, but can't be bothered to support.

    • (Score: 4, Informative) by Magic Oddball on Wednesday July 05 2017, @02:09PM

      by Magic Oddball (3847) on Wednesday July 05 2017, @02:09PM (#535185) Journal

      There's a few problems with that logic. First, there wasn't the kind of extreme inequality & poverty that is now the norm — a person could feasibly earn enough to support a family in a nice middle-class lifestyle without even finishing high school, and knew they'd almost certainly have their job as long as they wanted it as long as they performed well. When a person feels like they're treading water economically, is perpetually worried about the next financial crisis, and sees no reason to believe things will ever get better, the only way they're likely to cheer on any endeavors that don't benefit them directly is if they're already fans of the effort.

      Second, on that topic: different people find different kinds of endeavors exciting, worthy of pride, or otherwise worth spending much-needed funds on. For you, it's space exploration; for someone else, it might be educating kids, saving certain endangered species, protecting the environment, creating an amazing no-kill shelter system, medical research, crime prevention, etc. — they'd feel the same excitement & intense pride in their country if it threw itself fully into achieving their pet project's goal that you would if it threw itself into yours, and would react to your preferred endeavor the same way you likely would to theirs.

      FWIW, contrary to the popular belief, a lot of people during the 'Space Race' didn't think that it was a worthy goal; it didn't unite the nation nearly as much as we've been led to believe...

  • (Score: 4, Touché) by sweettea on Wednesday July 05 2017, @05:12AM (1 child)

    by sweettea (2023) on Wednesday July 05 2017, @05:12AM (#535060)

    >Japan announced an ambitious plan to land an astronaut on the moon Friday.
    Ah, well, you know, Thursday is just too soon, but we can probably do Friday, eh?

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by bob_super on Thursday July 06 2017, @01:31AM

      by bob_super (1357) on Thursday July 06 2017, @01:31AM (#535493)

      No, that'd be the Moon on Friday.

      Why just do what the US already did? Japan is going to get us a new Moon, call it Friday (at least the Japanese equivalent), and then land on it.