As the nearest neighbor of the earth, the moon has always been one of the most important goals of manned space activities, according to the Science and Technology Daily on October 10. However, in recent years, many private companies have poured into the lunar exploration boom, and their plans have been bolder and more advanced than those previously proposed by state-level space agencies.
Ispace, a Japanese company, recently announced plans to build a city on the moon by 2040, bringing its passenger flow to about 10,000 a year.
Yang Yuguang, a researcher at the Second Academy of China Aerospace Science and Industry Group, commented on the plan: "It's fantastic." He said, "let alone 2040, 2100 will not be possible."
Without technology, dreams are just dreams.
Manned lunar landing can not be accomplished overnight. ISPACE has also made two preliminary tasks.
For example, it plans to launch a lunar probe satellite in the mid-2020s with the goal of entering lunar orbit. They expect the satellite to take some moon photos and verify the navigation system of future missions.
The company also designed a lunar rover, consisting of two rovers. The two cars are connected by cables to meet the demand of power supply and communication. They want the rover to land on the lunar surface and survive for more than a day. More exploration would be considered an additional gain. The above two tasks need to rely on the launch of the Falcon nine rocket of the US SpaceX company.
However, many countries and organizations around the world have carried out lunar exploration or lunar patrol. As far as ISPACE is concerned, its plans are "pediatric" in terms of complexity and duration, compared with some previous lunar missions. For manned lunar landing, it will be far from enough if we only take such a task.
ISPACE chief executive Yoshida also revealed that the company is developing technology to convert ice from the moon's polar regions into rocket fuel. "Around 2030, we expect to be able to develop propeller fuel and deliver it to Rockets in space." He told the media that he hoped by then hundreds of people would have been working in lunar or lunar orbit to build an industrial base.
Yang Yuguang said that comparing with the latest space program put forward by the United States, it can be seen that Yoda Jian's wishes are just unrealistic fantasies.
On September 24, NASA released the National Space Exploration Report, which states in its Lunar Program that "Start Lunar Landing Architecture and Mission Analysis to Support US Astronauts to Land on the Moon by 2029" from 2019. Under the plan, NASA will build the Deep Space Portal in lunar orbit as its mother ship, and the space giant Lockheed Martin will build a giant lunar lander that will shuttle between the mother ship and the moon, carrying four astronauts for two weeks each.
Yang Yuguang believes that the U.S. program faces enormous technical challenges, but with its strong technical foundation to carry out technical research, is expected to achieve the goal around 2030. But if Loma is going to take a lot of trouble to send four people to the moon, how can a private company with little technical and engineering experience send hundreds of people?
Has the moon built the city considered the cost?
In addition to the technical threshold, we must consider another important condition for launching the manned lunar landing.
After all, the only Apollo plan to achieve manned lunar landing is the product of the supremacy of the United States and the Soviet Union. "There was a saying that every launch of a Saturn V heavy rocket used to land on the moon was equivalent to burning down an aircraft carrier." Yang Yuguang said. The era of sending people to the moon at any cost for political purposes has long ended. Today's lunar exploration activities focus on the combination of scientific exploration and economic interests, focusing on the exploration of lunar resources, laying the foundation for the future development and utilization of lunar resources.
Since the 1972 Apollo 17 mission, the world has never launched manned lunar landing. It's not sad. It's really sad. In 1989, U.S. President George W. Bush said he wanted to return to the moon, establish a permanent lunar base, and use it as a starting point for mars; in 2004, George W. Bush announced a "new concept of space exploration" and proposed a return to the moon as a springboard for manned landings on Mars and other deep space exploration activities. But none of these plans have been completed. "The most important reason is still too expensive." Space expert Pang Zhihao told reporters.
Da Ken looks optimistic about money. He claims that ISPACE has raised $95 million enough to complete lunar exploration and lunar rover projects. In addition to market funding, the Japanese government announced in March that it would provide $940 million in funding to space start-ups within five years. This presumably also gave Da Ken the bottom line.
But Yang Yuguang believes that this is not enough to realize Da Ken's dream. "How many people can go to the earth's Antarctic every year?" He said, "compared with the development and transportation of the moon, the cost of transportation is much higher than 10000 times."
Yang Yuguang said that in the past half century, there has been no revolutionary technological breakthrough in the mode of human transport to space, but still by means of launch vehicles. At present, the performance of rocket powered by hydrogen and oxygen has reached the extreme. Even if SpaceX developed a reusable rocket, or even its Big Freaking Rocket concept, the actual cost is not as good as it was supposed to be, and does not meet the low-cost requirements for large-scale frequent access to space.
"If humans develop materials that are tens of millions of times stronger than current nanotubes to create space elevators, the cost of entering space is expected to be reduced to one-thousandth of what it is today. Then it is possible to build a "city" on the moon. Yang Yuguang said. But all this is far from over.
Ten thousand people landing on the moon? The moon is not so developed.
Even if ISPACE can conquer technology and solve costs, they still have to face a real problem: hundreds of people are working on the moon, 10,000 people a year, what are you doing?
This is not the right way to develop the moon.
From the perspective of the Moon's position in the space program, it is by no means a "space home" for humans, but more suitable as a transit station for humans to Mars and beyond. Pang Zhihao said that the next step of human lunar landing activities is bound to be aimed at stationing on the moon, including building energy bases, scientific research bases and so on, so that astronauts on the moon long-term work and life. If we can extract and utilize the moon resources to fly to Mars, this will make sense.
Previous surveys have revealed water ice on the moon, which is widely believed to lie in permanent shadows at the lunar poles. Yang Yuguang said that if these water resources can be harvested and used in situ to produce the hydrogen and oxygen fuel needed for rocket engines, Mars spacecraft could be supported to take off from the lunar surface in the future, and the cost of manned fire detection would be greatly reduced compared with that of starting from the Earth. To this end, many Aerospace experts strongly recommend building permanent base for the moon, sending astronauts to stay there for a long time.
But such a base does not need hundreds of people. First, it costs too much; two, there is no such demand. Yang Yuguang said that there is no final conclusion as to how the lunar water resources are distributed, which are suitable for exploitation and how to exploit. So early lunar bases carried out some scientific research activities, like the International Space Station, where four to six people were enough. If large quantities of available water resources are found, the scale of the base needs to be expanded for exploitation and fuel preparation, and that does not require hundreds of people.
"It will be great for mankind to begin mining the moon resources in 2050s." Yang Yuguang said that ISPACE did not understand the concept of mining the moon, put forward such a "paradise night," but is only used to raise funds gimmick. (author / Fu Yifei)
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