American astronauts to return to the Moon by 2024, possibly on commercial rockets
PASADENA, CA, USA, March 27, 2019 /EINPresswire.com/ — US Vice President Pence announced on Tuesday that it is time to send American astronauts back to the surface of the Moon, and that the Trump administration wants it done by 2024. There had been a general plan to accomplish this goal by 2028, but Pence revised the schedule, saying that it was time to make “the next giant leap, and return American astronauts to the Moon, establish a permanent base there … and take American astronauts to Mars…”
Pence also referred to a new space race with China. "Make no mistake about it — we're in a space race today, just as we were in the 1960s, and the stakes are even higher,” he said, adding that the landing of China’s Chang'e 4 has "revealed [China's] ambition to seize the lunar strategic high ground and become the world’s pre-eminent spacefaring nation."
Rod Pyle, space journalist, author of 15 space books, and Editor-In-Chief of "Ad Astra" magazine, sees these emerging developments differently. On Wednesday, he said, “This is a large change in American spaceflight policy. Note, however, the space race of the 1960s was a geopolitical competition between the United States and the Soviet Union, designed to sway world opinion. This new move into space should not be based on such motivations, but on the peaceful—and profitable—development of space and its resources by all nations who desire to go.”
“The Trump administration seeks a bold new human mission in space for the US. And with SpaceX’s heavy lift rockets flying, and Blue Origin’s coming online soon, the US now has commercial rockets and spacecraft that can send humans and cargo to the Moon at a price far below NASA’s and their traditional suppliers—as little as 1/10th by NASA’s own internal studies. So we’re in a new era—one in which lunar resources will soon become highly valued. We must work on international agreements as to how this can be done peacefully and for the benefit of all, while ensuring that competing nations and entities can protect their claims appropriately.”
“But let’s not ignore the prospect of international collaboration in space,” Pyle added. “National goals are important, but so is cooperation with international partners. China’s spaceflight program has been consistently successful, and they would make a worthy partner in such endeavors. Important thinkers such as Buzz Aldrin have said as much. We don’t need a new space race—we need a new space age, with multiple international partners, including China. First, however, we must agree on the best ways to achieve such collaboration. The European Space Agency’s Moon Village plan is a good start.”
On this 50th anniversary year of the first landing on the Moon by Apollo 11, the time is right for humans to return to the Moon as a global community.
“We are truly standing at the threshold of a new space age… and possibly a new era of international cooperation,” Pyle said. These subjects are covered in depth in his new nonfiction book “Space 2.0,” which was released to the US market in February, and will be available in the Chinese market later this year.
The new US landing program aims for the south lunar pole, where it is thought that water ice may exist, which can be transformed into rocket fuel and breathable oxygen—but NASA probably won’t be the first to arrive. “China plans to send robotic landers to this region in the near future, and has already demonstrated the ability to do so with the Chang’e 4 mission,” Pyle said. “This technological ability roughly parallels the US’s, and together we can potentially do great things.”
Commercial spaceflight is also a factor. “Like US companies, the Chinese are working on commercializing spaceflight with reusable rockets,” Pyle added, “Hopefully, these companies will soon be able to engage fair and friendly competition with US commercial launch providers. When commercial companies compete, everyone wins.”
Among Pyle’s 15 books on spaceflight and technology is the recently released “Space 2.0: How Private Spaceflight, a Resurgent NASA, and International Partners are Creating a New Space Age,” published by BenBella Books in English and Traditional Mandarin. Pyle also writes for NASA, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Caltech, and various popular publications including “Futurity,” “Space.com,” “LiveScience,” “Popular Science’” and other outlets. He hosts the popular podcast “Cool Space News” on iHeart radio and makes regularly scheduled appearances on major radio and TV stations across the country, including PBS, NPR, KFI/Los Angeles and WGN/Chicago.
Source: EIN Presswire