The Moon or Bust! (updated)
Who’s going to the Moon by 2013?
Are Lunar launches dead? People like myself like to whine about the current administration’s attitude concerning NASA leadership regarding the Moon. But interest, investment, and plans for the moon are very much alive…and they’re on the move.
The space tourism company Space Adventures has begun selling tickets to fly on trips to Lunar Orbit, aboard a modified Soyuz, starting in 2013. I think the seats might already be filled for that first launch though. I don’t doubt they’ll keep sending them for as long as folks keep paying. Just think, seeing the moon from close-up and the Earth from afar. I haven’t the coin for it myself, and I doubt I’d have it by 2013, or even 2014, but there are folks who do. What bothers me is that I know we have the ability in this country to build a decent ride there and back. I think that it’s too bad that this company has to sell seats on the Russion Soyuz.
Click the link below to view the advertising video that Space Adventures put out:
Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (aka SpaceX), expects to have their Falcon 9 Heavy ready to lift unmanned lunar rover landings and satelite missions for several customers by the end of 2013. There are people who think that the rocket can’t be fully tested and ready that quick, but SpaceX is a fast-moving enterprise who’ve already sent their Dragon capsule up and recovered it successfully, putting them ahead of NASA’s Orion (oh, pardon me…MPCV!). With paying customers I think they’ve got a real chance.
Astrobotic Technology Inc. and the Rocket City Space Pioneers hope to send Lunar rovers to the Moon’s surface onboard SpaceX rockets as part of their drive for the Lunar X Prize.
Check out these links.
NASA‘s GRAIL Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory mission is currently due to launch to the Moon in March of 2012. It will ride to space on a Delta rocket and consists of two probes will orbit the Moon and carefully track the distance between each other and several facilities on Earth to measure variations in the Moon’s gravity.
Also, NASA’s LADEE Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer mission will go up in 2012 aboard an Orbital Science Corporation Minotaur-V rocket next spring. Part of its purpose will be to study the Moon’s thin atmosphere and orbiting dust before human activity disturbs them. I think it’s great that the rocket is made of Minute Man Missiles. It brings up images in my mind of beating swords into plow-shares.
Spaceflight Services and the Rocket City Space Pioneers have planned a series of LLO, GSO, and GTO missions aboard their SHERPA Tug and carried to space on U.S., Indian, and Russian launch vehicles aimed at the Moon starting late in 2011. Click below for the launch schedule.
So if you want to send something to the Moon, or go there yourself, get ready to go. The more science we do there the easier it’ll be for the next administration to see the importance of NASA manned missions that “shoot for the moon”. Many beleive that a permanant human presence on Earth’s moon is a necessary componant of a financially black, permanant human settlement on Mars instead of just a quick-and-dirty “leave a footprint and plant a flag” mission.
Update–6/22/11: It seems Space Adventures has lost their ride. TASS announced this week that there will be no Soyuz available for use in a moon mission “…in the near future.” I wounder if there is another rocket they can fly their first manned mission on.
Also, my original article left out one Lunar X-Prize contender. OM Space (Odyssey Moon LTD) is developing a commercial robotic lunar lander called Odyssey-1 to compete for the X-Prize and provide routine, low-priced rides to equatorial landing sites on the moon for scientific and commercial payloads starting in Dec. 2012. SpaceX will provide the launch vehicle. Plans are also in the works for a more sophisticated lander called Odyssey-2 as well.
- SpaceX goes to court as US rocket wars begin (go.theregister.com)
- The Ancient Greeks and the First Total Lunar Eclipse of 2011 (bigthink.com)
- Astrobotic, CMU build lunar lander in X Prize bid (news.cnet.com)
- New lunar lander test sparks grass fire at NASA (chron.com)
- CMU and Astrobotic Technology Complete Structural Assembly of Lunar Lander (prnewswire.com)
- SpaceX Promises Biggest Rocket Since Saturn V (wired.com)
- Silicon Valley start-up looking to mine the moon (latimesblogs.latimes.com)
- NASA ‘deep space’ ship: Humans beyond orbit by 2020? (go.theregister.com)
- SpaceX plans world’s most powerful rocket (newscientist.com)