The moon race continues!

The lunar exploration programs, which were simultaneously curtailed in the Soviet Union and the USA in the middle of the 1970, are again becoming popular and in demand. The moon race, which seemed to be long gone, is gaining momentum again. Today, scientists in many countries of the world are convinced that humanity is at that stage of its development, which is able to ensure the transformation of the moon into a cosmic outpost of civilization. To this end, the leading countries of the world have everything they need: numerous cosmodromes, lunar rovers, modules returned to Earth and heavy-class launch vehicles.

The two main questions of the lunar program in its modern reincarnation are the following questions: why do people need the moon, and which technologies will help humanity to colonize it? Scientists from many countries are looking for the answer to these questions today. Interest in the only natural satellite of the Earth is shown today by Russia, the USA, the countries of the European Union, China, India and Japan. The moon was remembered again in 2004, when US President George W. Bush announced the resumption of the lunar program. Later, already in 2007 and 2013, China sent the orbital and landing modules to the Moon. And in 2014, the plans for the exploration of the moon were voiced by Dmitry Rogozin, who holds the post of deputy prime minister of the Russian government.

In the middle of the 70s of the last century, it was believed that flying to the moon was very expensive, and it was also not entirely clear what it was for. Today, the Moon is becoming relevant again and scientists around the world seem to find the answers, which requires the resumption of lunar programs. Despite the fact that the political motivation for the exploration of the moon is now absent, new incentives have emerged. For example, the actualization of lunar programs after more than half a century of oblivion may be associated with a high technological level of today's civilization, which requires truly ambitious goals for further development. This process can also be associated with the development and prospects of private space exploration. Today, in the arsenal of the global space industry there is everything necessary to “conquer” the Moon, it remains only to determine exactly the goals and objectives of the lunar programs.

The Russian space industry has a vast experience of lunar launches, which was previously accumulated by Soviet engineers and scientists. The Soviet vehicles were the first to make a soft landing on the moon, took a picture of the back side of the natural satellite of the Earth, and took samples of the ground-regolith. The world's first rover, successfully working on the surface of a celestial body, commonly known as the "Lunokhod-1", is also a merit of the Soviet cosmonautics. The moon rover worked on the satellite surface from 17 November 1970 to 14 September 1971 of the year.


Today, manned flights to the moon are once again incorporated into the foundations of state policy, reports RIA News. As part of the federal space program on 2016-2025, the Luna-Globe project was being developed, which involves launching a series of automatic stations to the natural Earth satellite. This project is being implemented today by the Lavochkin NPO. President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, visiting 12 on April 2018 of the year, the new pavilion "Cosmos" at the Exhibition of Economic Achievements, noted that the country's lunar program will be implemented.

Immediate plans of the Russian lunar program

At the first stage of the Russian lunar program, it is planned to launch five automatic stations to the Moon in 2019-2025. All launches are planned to be performed from the new Vostochny cosmodrome. The study of the moon by automatic stations involves choosing a site for expanding human presence on a natural satellite of the Earth. The obtained information about the necessary resources should help determine the location of the lunar base.

At the first stage of the implementation of the Russian lunar program, the following scientific tasks were set: the study of the composition of matter and the physical processes at the poles of the moon; study of the properties of the exosphere and the processes of interaction of the cosmic plasma with the surface at the lunar poles; study of the internal structure of the natural satellite of the Earth using global seismometry methods; the study of ultra-high energy cosmic rays.

Currently, Russia's closest plans for exploring the moon with the help of automatic stations are as follows:

2019 year - the launch of the spacecraft Luna-25. Mission - the study of the surface of the moon in the South Pole.
2022 year - the launch of the spacecraft Luna-26. Mission - remote study of the moon, providing communication for subsequent lunar missions.
2023 year - the launch of 3 and 4 devices "Luna-27" (main and backup landing probes). The mission is to develop technologies for creating a permanent base on the lunar surface, studying the regolith and the exosphere of the moon.
2025 of the year - the launch of the apparatus "Luna-28". The mission is to deliver temperature-controlled samples of lunar soil to the Earth’s surface, which will be extracted by previous automatic stations. Ice crystals can be found in the samples.

How can I use the moon

Many scientists believe that space expansion will be a logical stage in the further development of mankind. Sooner or later, our civilization will reach a stage where it will be crowded on our planet and there will be a need for a transshipment base on the Moon, from where it will be possible to comfortably start to Mars or other planets of the Solar System.

Experts pin special hopes on the possibility of mining various minerals on the Moon, highlighting from all of them helium-3. This substance is already called the energy of the future and the main treasure of the moon. In the future, it can be used as fuel for thermonuclear energy. Hypothetically, with thermonuclear fusion with the reaction of one ton of helium-3 and 0,67 tons of deuterium, energy equivalent to the burning of 15 million tons of oil should be released (but the technical feasibility of such a reaction has not yet been studied). This is without taking into account that helium-3 on the lunar surface will have to be somehow mined. And it will not be easy to do this, since according to studies of helium-3 content in lunar regolith, it is on the order of one gram per 100 tons of lunar soil. Therefore, in order to extract tons of this isotope, it will be necessary to process at least 100 million tons of lunar soil on site. However, if all the problems with its mining and use can be solved, helium-3 will be able to provide energy to all of humanity for the millennia ahead. For scientists of interest and water reserves, which are also contained in the lunar soil.

The moon race continues!

The scientific potential of the moon is currently not yet exhausted. Experts still do not know exactly how the Earth satellite was formed and the answer to this question is obviously not on our planet. Also, the Moon appears to be an excellent platform for astrophysical observations, since there is no atmosphere on the natural satellite of our planet. Technically install telescopes on its surface right now. Also from the moon it will be more convenient to follow asteroids, which can pose a serious danger to the Earth. And in the very distant future, mankind will be able to think about transferring all energy-intensive production to the Moon, which will help to significantly reduce the amount of industrial emissions on our planet.

Super heavy boosters

Currently, the need for extra-heavy launch vehicles for flights to the Moon remains controversial. Someone thinks that without missiles capable of carrying tons of payload to 80-120, one cannot do without, and on the contrary, someone considers the approach of creating such missiles to be irrational, justifying this as an expensive operation and maintenance of the necessary infrastructure. In any case, the world space program can ensure the creation of such missiles. There is enough experience in their development: this is also the Soviet H-1, Energy, Vulcan and American Saturn-5, Ares V launch vehicles.

Rocket "Energy" with the spacecraft "Buran"

Currently in the United States are working on two projects of such missiles - the Space Launch System, the launch of which was postponed and successfully tested by the private Falcon Heavy rocket. In the PRC, they are working on the creation of their super-heavy rocket “The Long March - 9”, designed directly for 130 tons of payload. The Angara family of missiles has been tested in Russia and work is underway on the Energia-5 super-heavy rocket. There is currently no shortage of space centers for the use of super-heavy launch vehicles on Earth: Baikonur, Vostochny, Kourou in French Guiana and Vandenberg in Florida, 4 cosmodrome in the PRC.

It is planned that the first launch of the new Russian super-heavy launch vehicle Energia-5 will take place no earlier than 2028, and the launch complex for it at the Vostochny cosmodrome will be ready in 2027. This was previously reported by the TASS agency, citing its own sources in the rocket and space industry. The launching table for the new Russian rocket will be built according to the principles implemented for the Soviet launch vehicle Energia at Baikonur (site №250). It is reported that this will be a universal launch complex, from which the Soyuz-5 medium-class launch vehicles and the mix of two, three or five such missiles will also be able to launch (to achieve different payloads). It is precisely the principle of combining the five rockets that formed the basis of the new Russian super-heavy class rocket “Energy-5”.

Currently, Russian developers are working on the creation of two proposed missile projects for implementation - Energy-5В-ПТК and Energy-5ВР-ПТК with a launch mass of 2368 and 2346 tons. Both versions of the launch vehicle will be able to put into low Earth orbit up to 100 tons of cargo, and into circumlunar orbit up to 20,5 tons of payload - the mass of the “lunar” version of the developed Federation ship.

Estimated view of the launch complex with the Space Launch System rocket

According to the calculations of Roskosmos, the development of a rocket carrier of a super heavy class and the creation of the necessary infrastructure for its launch at the Vostochny cosmodrome will cost approximately 1,5 trillion rubles. Roscosmos has also previously stated that there is no need to rush to the creation of such missiles before 2030, since there simply are no payloads for them. At the same time, earlier, RSC Energia stated that the creation of a new Russian super-heavy rocket would be cheaper in 1,5 than reproduction of the Soviet Energia launch vehicle, the creation of which, along with the Buran spacecraft, was the most ambitious program in stories domestic space rocket science.

Orbital station and lunar bases

Projects of construction of habitable stations in its orbit are considered as intermediate stages of the Moon exploration. The implementation of such plans in the period from 2025 to 2030 years have already been declared by Russia, the USA and China. It is not necessary to doubt that this project will be implemented. The international community currently has extensive experience in successfully operating the ISS. Earlier, the United States and Russia have agreed to work together on the international near-moon habitable station Deep Space Gateway. The project also work the EU, Canada and Japan. Participation in the program and the BRICS countries. Russia within the framework of this project can create from one to three modules for a new station: a lock station and residential modules.

The next stage after the creation of a near-moon inhabited station could be the creation of lunar inhabited bases. On the natural satellite of the Earth there is no magnetic field and atmosphere, while the surface of the moon is continuously bombarded by micrometeorites, and temperature differences in one day reach 400 degrees Celsius. All this makes the moon not the most human-friendly place. It is possible to work on its surface only in space suits and sealed moon rovers, or being inside a stationary habitable module equipped with a full life support system. It will be most convenient to deploy such a module in the region of the South Pole of our satellite. There is always light and less temperature fluctuations. It is planned that at the first stage robots will be engaged in assembling the residential module. After the manned missions to the moon have been adequately worked out, the construction of the residential lunar module will expand.

Lunar base concept

The first inhabitants of our satellite first deployed on its surface means of communication with the orbital station and the Earth, after which they will begin to launch power plants on fuel cells or flexible photocells. It will be necessary to work out the issues of protecting the lunar base from solar flares and cosmic radiation. For this purpose, it is planned to cover it with a meter layer of regolith, for example, by conducting directed explosions, since it makes little sense to deliver dump trucks and excavators to the lunar surface. Construction work on the moon will have to be based on completely different technologies: print construction elements on an 3D printer; use inflatable modules; to create composite materials from the lunar soil using high-temperature synthesis and laser sintering.

In the residential lunar module there will be an advanced drinking water and oxygen supply system, and a vegetable greenhouse will be created. Key importance will be given to the self-sufficiency of the lunar base. Only in this way will it be possible to reduce the number of rockets sent to the Moon with various cargoes. At present, there are no fundamental obstacles for colonization of the Moon by man, but how the first inhabited lunar base will ultimately look will depend on the purposes for which it is intended.

Information sources:
Open source materials
Yuferev Sergey
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