Why has there been such a long gap?

Po­lit­i­cal and tech­no­log­i­cal fac­tors have de­layed our re­turn to the Moon

Sky at Night Magazine - - FIELD OF VIEW -

Space sta­tions and ro­botic sci­ence mis­sions have been the main fo­cus of space exploratio­n since the Apollo mis­sions ended in 1972. Since then, hu­man trips to space have been limited to low-Earth or­bit. Without the po­lit­i­cal agenda of the Space Race, gov­ern­ments weren’t in­ter­ested in fund­ing a space pro­gramme. And in a way, we needed to wait for the rise of com­mer­cial space, for launch costs to de­crease, for new in­no­va­tions to emerge such as faster pro­to­typ­ing, the ad­vances in ad­di­tive man­u­fac­tur­ing, ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence and robotics – all these tech­nolo­gies can be adapted for ap­pli­ca­tions on the lu­nar sur­face.

With the emer­gence of China and In­dia and com­mer­cial space com­pa­nies that weren’t around 50 years ago, per­haps it forced the US and the other more prom­i­nent space agen­cies to rally to­gether and re­alise that it was time to go back. It was time to re­turn to the Moon to­gether, not just for ‘foot­prints and flags’, but to live and ex­plore. And to be­gin the per­ma­nent pres­ence out into the ex­panse of space, and be­yond the cradle of Earth.

▲ The crew mod­ule for SpaceX Demo-1 mis­sion. The com­mer­cial sec­tor is play­ing a large part in our re­turn to the Moon

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