New Space Race – who will be the first to fly to the Moon?

New Space Race – who will be the first to fly to the Moon?


In recent years, the lunar programs have received increasing attention from the governments. Specific actions for their implementation are made by the President of the United States Donald Trump. China approved the lunar Chang'e Program in 2004. Russia also decided to participate in the new space race and unveiled its own plans for the exploration of the natural satellite of the Earth.

The first flight to the Moon with further landing of the man took place in 1969, the last one – in 1972. Over the whole history of mankind, astronauts landed on the surface of the Earth satellite for six times. After that, none of the countries made any real attempts to repeat those space travels.

Those six flights were conducted within the American lunar program Apollo (1961-1975). Overall, the today's equivalent of $146 billion was spend on the program. Subsequently, plans for the manned flight to the Moon were of a theoretical nature and there were no sufficient funds allocated for this purpose.

Problems of lunar exploration

With the development of space programs, the Moon is becoming more and more important for the mankind, including for flights to Mars and deep-space investigations. Summarizing all the lunar plans of the US and Russia, it is assumed that initially the spacecraft with astronauts and orbital stations will be relocated to higher geostationary orbits and reach the moon space.

Then a full-scale expansion of the Moon will take place, a functional manned base will be constructed there, capable of operating in a constant mode. There are three stages of satellite exploration:

  1. Preliminary research and experimentation aimed at updating the existing experience.
  2. Anchoring in the new lunar environment, construction of a stationary manned base, and ensuring of its sustainability using only local resources.
  3. Exchange of resources between the Earth and the Moon, comprehensive interaction with the developed environment.

We are now underway between the first and second stage meaning that we have already visited the Moon, now it is time to create constructions there. The USSR and the US were considering this possibility back in the 1960s. There are fully prepared colonization projects developed by Soviet scientists back in the days of the space race.

To solve the main problem, which is construction, it is planned to use 3D printers. They will be able to sinter the lunar soil using sunlight. Objects will be printed from the received material.

The US lunar program

The Apollo program was adopted in 1961 to provide a manned flight of NASA to the Moon. After that, the plans for its exploration became secondary. The program was closed in 1975. The next real attempt was made in 2004.

At that time, the President George W. Bush set a deadline for the aerospace agency until 2020. The program was called Constellation. The US government invested $9 billion in the implementation, but Obama turned it down, explaining the action by saving.

Trump returned to the lunar theme on December 11, 2017, signing the directive. It obliges NASA to prepare for new flights and exploration of the satellite. The program does not have specific plans yet, the timing of its implementation is approximate.

Trump wants to use the Moon as a base for further exploration of Mars and deep space. The program is called Space Launch System. Within its framework, a new heavy missile is being developed, whose unmanned tests will be held in 2019-2020, as well as the Orion spacecraft.

Russian lunar program

In the 1960s, the Soviet Union had many projects and two parallel lunar programs, the purpose of which was a manned flight to the satellite. In the end, nobody flew to the Moon, mostly because of the rivalry between the design bureaus of Korolev and Chelomey and the dispersion of forces and money between them.

The modern Russian lunar program is scheduled for the period of 2019-2024. It will be a series of five launches, which will cost the budget 39 billion rubles. All of them will be held from the spaceport Vostochny. The project is called the Moon-Soil and is primarily aimed at researches.

At the same time, the Rocket and Space Corporation Energia assured that Russian astronauts would land on the Moon in 2031. Unmanned spacecraft will start flying to the satellite in 2026.

The second wave of interest in the Moon is associated with new achievements of scientists and engineers. In addition, the Earth satellite started to be seen as an auxiliary base for traveling to Mars and deep space exploration. New technologies are constantly developed; conferences and exhibitions devoted to the space industry are regularly held throughout the world.

One of the largest events in commercial space exploration and UAV is InSpace Forum 2018, organized by Smile-Expo in Moscow on March 21. Attendees will learn about the opportunities of the space business, meet with industry representatives and will have a chance to get insider information.