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50 years without a moon landing: 5 reasons why 50 years without a moon landing: 5 reasons why

50 years without a moon landing: 5 reasons why

Are we ever going back to our own natural satellite?
CiènciaSense categoriaZPortada Izquierda 18 March, 2019 user1 0
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Inici » Historic » 50 years without a moon landing: 5 reasons why

This year marks the 50th anniversary that we – mankins- set a foot on the moon. On July 20, 1969, millions of people gathered around their televisions to watch three American astronauts change history forever. Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collin were the American spacemen chosen for the mission.

The NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) sent the Apollo 11 to the moon in the midst of the so-called space race between United States and the Soviet Union. Both countries were racing to see who would be the first to – successfully- bring men to the moon.

The moon had always been the goal and not only in the space field. Whether it was through cinema with Le Voyage dans la Lune by Georges Méliès, or thought comics such as Destination Moon of the Tintin series by Hergé. Man has always showed an admiration for the yet unknown celestial body.

But, what happened afterwards? In 1972 the Apollo 17 launched. This marked the 6th time the man has been to the moon, yet, ever since, no one has returned. Ever wondered why? Then Keep reading because we have all the answers you need.

1. No Rocket. No Moon

The rocket for a manned moon mission has to do incredible work. In eight minutes it has to accelerate a ton-heavy spaceship to around 40,000 km/h. This equals 11 times faster than a bullet. This is only possible with extremely strong driveways.

The apolo rocket is still the strongest spacecraft ever flown. Yet, nowadays nobody would try to replicate it. Although several organizations are working on a new more efficient rocket, none of them has achieved this goal.

The most promising programs are NASA’s Launch System and Elon Musk’s Falcon Heavy. Although the falcon is not ready yet for a manned moon mission, its launch is said to be 10 times cheaper than their competitors.

Mockup of the original Apollo 11 space capsule in Cosmocaixa

Mockup of the original Apollo 11 space capsule in Cosmocaixa

 

2. Money, Money, Money

As per usual money is an issue. For the Apollo program, according to official records, the USA invested more than 15 billion dollars per year. Back then, during the Cold War, being the first nation to step foot on the moon was the goal, no matter the cost.

Nowadays the NASA Moon Program has to cope with just under $2 billion a year. This has been barely enough to finish the capsule for the astronauts. With, this capsule,  in 2023, people are expected to venture into the moon orbit again for the first time.

3. Safety first, kids!

Compared to today’s missions, the Apollo astronauts traveled in tin cans. They could count themselves lucky. Energy-rich space radiation from the sun could have been their fate.The radiation of unpredictable solar storms is particularly high and leads to a lethal dose in just half an hour. Today we know that the last apollo astronauts narrowly missed the death by radiation.

Even under normal circumstances a trip to the moon is dangerous. A day under the moon’s radiation equals the dose of three years on Earth. One month is equivalent to a whole human life. This increases above all the cancer risk for the astronauts.

As for additional radiation protection, it is only possible with more material between the astronaut and the radiation source. This again requires an increase in investments.

4. EUREKA!

The software for current moon missions are much more complex than that time. Today’s space expeditions use many more computers than the Apollo, which increases development time and costs. Orion’s computers alone can handle up to 480 million commands per second.

Why is this an issue you may ask? Well, you can only test complex programs by testing. And testing is expensive and requires time, which the government might not be willing to invest. Which leads us to the next and last reason.

Representation of the Apollo 11's suit

A representation of the space suit used in the Apollo 11’s mission

 

5. More complex missions

Flying to the moon just to draw up a flag is not enough anymore. A mission of this magnitude and cost must bring more. Reason for which, instead of two astronauts as in the apollo, next time 4 astronauts are to land on the moon’s surface.

There they are expected to do more research and experiment, apart from staying longer than their predecessors. In the middle of Fristign you should even stay a moonlight night. This can take up to 14 days and temperature fluctuations of up to 300 degrees.

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