NASA’s science division named a dozen possible missions that could be sent to the moon later this year aboard the first private landing platforms and rockets. Their list was published on the agency website.
“These devices will become a kind of trial ball that will help us build the infrastructure for delivering scientific missions to the Moon, using the resources of private companies. We plan to hold such contests every year,” said Steve Clarke, deputy director of NASA’s research division.
Manned space exploration and the return of man to the moon was one of the main tasks of NASA after the victory of Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election. The president of the United States himself and Jim Brydenstin, the future administrator of NASA, often talk about plans to build a station in orbit of the moon, disembark on its surface and create a “permanent infrastructure” on the satellite of our planet.
The first step towards the implementation of these plans was the agreement between NASA and the nine leading space startups and large companies, signed in November last year. Within its framework, the United States Aerospace Agency may use their services for the delivery of their vehicles to the Moon in the coming years.
In accordance with these agreements, NASA in the next 10 years will receive the right to deliver an unlimited number of landing modules, rovers and other “goods” to the moon. The total cost of sending and maintaining their work should not exceed $ 2.6 billion.
Today, NASA has announced 12 possible candidates for the first such flight, which may take place in the last months of this year, if the “cab drivers” have time to prepare the landing platforms.
These included both exclusively scientific missions focused on the study of the properties of the moon, as well as projects related to the construction of bases, the extraction of water and other useful resources on its surface. All of them will be created by NASA research departments and their academic partners.
For example, the LETS apparatus will for the first time carry out accurate measurements of the level of radiation at the lunar surface, and its colleagues, the geologists NIVSS and NSSANM, will study the chemical composition of lunar rocks and measure the proportion of water in them.
In addition, a magnetometer, a radio antenna, and several cameras can be sent to the moon to assess the effects of the landing of the devices on the moon and determine how its surface interacts with the solar wind and cosmic rays. Understanding this is critical for protecting electronics and the body of colonists from static electricity and radiation.
Two “technical” missions – Lunar Node 1 and SCDP – will help scientists test navigation systems and electricity generators that can work on the surface of the moon for a long time. The winners in this competition, Clark explained, will be announced this spring.
All of this, as NASA representatives hope, will help create new take-off and landing systems from the surface of the Earth’s satellite. The first tests of these “shuttles” are scheduled for 2024, and the landing of astronauts – for 2028.