Humans will be able to live and stay for longer periods on the moon already during this decade. That’s what Howard Hu, the head of the Orion lunar program, says BBC.
In an interview with the British state channel, Hu says that livable conditions are needed to support the scientific activities planned for the next few years.
Head of space research at the Norwegian Space Centre, Pål Brekke, believes that it may be difficult to establish a permanent base on the moon by the end of the decade, but that it is not far off.
– The possibility of Nasa being able to establish a base on the moon by 2030 is there, but there are several things that could delay such an attempt. In parallel, a space station will also be built to orbit the moon, called Gateway.
– All this is complicated and time-consuming and I will not be surprised if a permanent base is not ready by 2030. But in the early 30s this is probably a reality, Brekke believes.
Passing the dark side of the moon
The Orion capsule of NASA’s Artemis spacecraft reaches the moon today. There, the capsule will pass 130 kilometers above the lunar surface, before entering orbit.
During this maneuver, the spacecraft will be out of contact with Earth, as it passes the side of the Moon facing away from Earth. According to the plan, this will take place at 13.33 Norwegian time.
The Artemis team has stated that they will be waiting intently for the signal to resume after a hopefully successful pass on the dark side of the moon.
Brekke says that although Artemis appears to be on track, we will have to wait until the Orion capsule lands safely on Earth again in a few weeks before we know if it is safe to send humans in the same way.
– During Artemis III, two astronauts will land at the moon’s south pole and stay there for a week.
Brekke emphasizes that there are a number of challenges in staying on the moon for a long time.
Below 200 degrees below zero
– During the Apollo missions, you always landed on the side of the moon that had daylight. When you have to land on the moon’s south pole, you will not always have daylight. Thus, the temperature will fall to below minus 200 degrees during the periods when there is no sunlight.
This presents a number of new challenges with regard to what technical equipment, infrastructure and spacesuits will withstand, explains Brekke.
A longer stay on the moon, as Howard Hu outlines for the BBC, will also have to solve the challenges associated with the moon’s lack of a protective magnetic field, as the Earth has.
– This means that the astronauts are also unprotected against radiation from both space and high-energy particles from solar storms. That is why it is also important to provide better protection for the astronauts if they are to stay there for longer periods, says Brekke to TV 2.
Have sent selfies
It was on Wednesday last week that the Artemis journey began with the launch of the most powerful rocket NASA has ever made.
The mission has taken the Orion capsule to the moon, and it has so far sent back several selfies from the mission.
During Monday, the spacecraft will fly over the landing areas of both Apollo 11, 12 and 14. It will be without contact with the earth for 34 minutes, but will then start sending back data and images from the flyover.
Colder than Antarctica
One of the things currently being worked on is finding the best landing site for future Artemis missions near the moon’s south pole, explains Brekke. A research station must be built in a place where there is maximum sunshine during the year so that electricity can be made using solar panels.
It must also be a place with as much continuous communication with the earth as possible. Furthermore, it must be located near one of the many craters where there is constant shade.
– It is in these areas that one expects to find frozen water that can be used both for drinking and for making fuel.
In a way, this will be a bit like a research station in Antarctica and everything has been nicknamed Artemis Base Camp, concludes Brekke.