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Back to the Moon

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NASA heading back to Moon soon, and this time to stay
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Feb 14, 2019

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NASA is accelerating plans to return Americans to the Moon, and this time, the US space agency says it will be there to stay.

Jim Bridenstine, NASA's administrator, told reporters Thursday that the agency plans to speed up plans backed by President Donald Trump to return to the moon, using private companies.

"It's important that we get back to the moon as fast as possible," said Bridenstine in a meeting at NASA's Washington headquarters, adding he hoped to have astronauts back there by 2028.

"This time, when we go to the Moon, we're actually going to stay. We're not going to leave flags and footprints and then come home to not go back for another 50 years" he said.

"We're doing it entirely different than every other country in the world. What we're doing is, we're making it sustainable so you can go back and forth regularly with humans."

The last person to walk on the Moon was Eugene Cernan in December 1972, during the Apollo 17 mission.

Before humans set foot on the lunar surface again, NASA aims to land an unmanned vehicle on the Moon by 2024, and is already inviting bids from the burgeoning private sector to build the probe.

The deadline for bids is March 25, with a first selection due in May, a tight timeline for an agency whose past projects have run years behind schedule and billions over budget.

"For us, if we had any wish, I would like to fly this calendar year. We want to go fast," said Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate.

However, he admitted that "we may not be able to."

NASA's accelerated plans flesh out the Space Policy Directive that Trump signed in December 2017, envisaging a return to the Moon before a manned mission to Mars, possibly in the 2030s.

NASA plans to build a small space station, dubbed Gateway, in the Moon's orbit by 2026. It will serve as a way-station for trips to and from the lunar surface, but will not be permanently crewed like the International Space Station (ISS), currently in Earth's orbit.

As with the ISS, NASA would seek the participation of other countries, who could provide some of the necessary needed, such as modules for the Moon station or vehicles to allow landings on the surface.

"We want numerous providers competing on cost and innovation," Bridenstine said.

Before this manned program, NASA is also pushing to send scientific instruments and other technological tools to the Moon in 2020 or even before the end of this year.

The agency is also calling for quick-turnaround bids to manufacture and launch such instruments, offering financial incentives to make it happen fast.

"We care about speed," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate. "We do not expect that every one of those launches or every one of those landings will be successful. We are taking risks."

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Russia mulls delivering takeoff-landing system to Moon in 2029
by Staff Writers
Moscow (Sputnik) Feb 15, 2019

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Illustration by Roscosmos

Russia is planning to launch the Don super-heavy carrier rocket in 2029 to deliver a takeoff/landing complex to the Moon, a space industry source told Sputnik.

"The goal of the mission will be to deliver a takeoff/landing complex to the Moon to test the landing on its surface in order to ensure the future landing of Russian cosmonauts on the Earth's natural satellite", the source said.

According to the source, the prospective Don super-heavy class carrier rocket will be capable of delivering a payload of up to 130 metric tons to a low-Earth orbit, and a payload of up to 32 metric tons to the lunar orbit.

Dmitry Rogozin, the Roscosmos chief said last week that the Moon exploration is a highly important task for Russian space corporation, which was set by Russian President Vladimir Putin, stressing that the task will be implemented.

On 28 November, the scientific council of Roscosmos and the Russian Academy of Sciences considered the concept of exploration and examination of the Moon.

Russia's first ever manned lunar mission is expected in 2031. According to the Roscosmos, Russia hopes to found a base on the Moon between 2036 and 2040.

Last year, media reported that large reserves of frozen water had been discovered in the polar regions of the Moon. It will not only make the construction of the lunar base easier, but also will also help scientists to find out how the water appeared on the Moon.

In January, Rogozin announced that Roscosmos could create new Federation spacecraft and, at the same time, upgrade the Soyuz spacecraft for lunar flights. In addition, he said that Russia was expecting new negotiating positions with NASA on the Moon orbit station.

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On 2/15/2019 at 10:40 AM, Maverick said:

They've picked the first crew already!

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30 years later than planned.

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