Lunar dreams… September 12, 2012Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
Hard to entirely credit reports that Russia may seek to establish a base upon the Moon. First up what about the source, Dmitry Rogozin, deputy prime minister of Russia. I’m never keen when politicians make statements with vague aspirational stuff about space exploration or development. Secondly let’s look at the statement itself:
“There is a lot of competition among countries in the space sector and so we must have a big super goal that could pull forward science and industry; that would enable the country to escape from the morass of problems, which have kept us captive for the past 20 years,” Mr Rogozin told the Vesti FM radio station.
“Why not try to build a big station on the moon that would be a base for future ‘leaps’ of science?”.
Well, that’s a bucket full of caveats from the off. Why not? Why not indeed, but it would be more compelling if rather than asking questions there was an actual outline of the costs and the promise of funding sufficient to do same.
I noted – tongue in cheek – some of the costs of such programmes in this post here, but in fairness Russia has an established infrastructure in terms of technology and human capital sufficient to mount large scale space goals. Whether it wishes to use this, or has the resources – and particularly the financial ability – to do so is quite a different matter. Yet it’s not as if there aren’t intermediate goals that would be realisable with relatively little effort. For example further down the bulletin is the following:
Roskosmos, Russia’s space agency, has previously floated the idea of a moon base – possibly built in collaboration with the United States and Europe – and has also spoken of the option of constructing a space station that would orbit the moon.
It is planning to send two unmanned missions to the Moon by 2020 and there have been reports that it is weighing a manned mission there too.
Forget moon base, let’s see about a manned mission to the Moon and by all means proceed with the unmanned missions. But that idea about a space station orbiting the Moon is a good idea and could be accomplished with much less difficulty than the other options. Granted it would be a little cosmetic – in terms of outcomes, and demand some effort, but it might just be a way to do something a little bit new in terms of manned spaceflight as well as pointing the way to further developments – human moon landings being the next obvious stage.
It’s strange, this site has noted previously how the reality of manned spaceflight has seen it retreat to low earth orbit with relatively little hope for much beyond that in the medium term. And that’s a process that was in train by the middle of the 1970s. It’s that which makes the idea of doing something, anything, so attractive. And a human presence not just in orbit around this planet but around the Moon would constitute a step forward. Problem is that given how political decisions constrain such a step one would have to be fairly optimistic to hope for anything anytime soon.