Archive for the 'Lunar Exploration' Category

Living on the Moon

“If God wanted man to become a spacefaring species, He would have given man a moon.” ~ Krafft Ehricke

Today on Discovery Enterprise we present a fascinating episode from the National Geographic Channel’s documentary series “Naked Science”.

In this instalment of “Naked Science” we look at the exciting possibility of using our celestial neighbour, the Moon, as a stepping stone that will allow humanity to colonise the solar system and beyond.

Last November, the dream of colonizing the Moon and solar system, came a step closer to reality with the exciting discovery of substantial amounts of water ice in the permanently shadowed Cabeus crater near the Moon’s South Pole. The LCROSS spacecraft and a companion rocket stage made twin impacts in the Cabeus crater on October 9th, 2009 that created a plume of material from the bottom of a crater that has not seen sunlight in billions of years. This important discovery justifies our returning to the Moon before the end of the next decade.

The Moon will play an important role in humanity’s future expansion into space. A revitalized manned lunar exploration over the next ten years is the only next logical step if our planetary culture is truly going to evolve into a spacefaring civilization.

Living On The Moon Part 1

Living On The Moon Part 2

Our Incredible Space Station Luna


Today on discovery Enterprise we are going to present Moonshot, a dramatisation of the early NASA moon missions. “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” American astronaut Neil Armstrong spoke those words 40 years ago this summer on July 20, 1969, just after stepping off the lunar landing module Eagle to become the first human ever to walk on the moon. Back home on Earth (240,000 miles away) more than a billion people were listening to the broadcast. One of the most chronicled events in human history, the moon landing signalled the conquest of a new frontier and cemented America‘s place at the forefront of human achievement. This is the story of the Apollo 11’s breathtaking mission from the perspective of the three very different and very strong personalities that made up its intrepid crew: Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin Jr. and Michael Collins.


The Moon Our Stepping Stone in Creating a Spacefaring Civilization

“If God wanted man to become a spacefaring species, He would have given man a moon.” – Krafft Ehricke, space visionary

The Moon will play an important role in humanity’s future expansion into space. A return to the Moon is the only logical step if our planetary culture is to evolve into a spacefaring civilization.

In the 1960s, the United States and the Soviet Union engaged in a historic superpower Moon race, which culminated in 12 men exploring the surface of the Moon. The first era of lunar exploration reached a dramatic conclusion in December of 1972 as Apollo 17 Astronauts Captain Gene Cernan and Dr. Harrison Schmitt became the last men on the Moon.

Moon 2.0, is the second era of lunar exploration involving the partnership of the governments of many nations and private enterprise. It will not be a quest for “flags and footprints.” This time we will go to the Moon to stay. The Moon is a stepping stone to the rest of the solar system and a source of solutions to some of the most pressing environmental problems that we face on Earth – energy independence and climate change. Already, governments from around the world recognize the importance of lunar exploration, and national space agencies from the United States, Russia, China, India, Japan, and the nations of Europe have sent probes to the Moon to pave the way for humanity’s return there.

This second era of lunar exploration will be much more exciting and inspiring for it will help to create a new branch of human civilization out amongst the stars.

Today’s video selection takes a closer look at this brave new era of lunar exploration.

Moon 2.0: Join the Revolution

The Google Lunar X PRIZE is an unprecedented international competition that will challenge and inspire engineers and entrepreneurs from around the world to develop low-cost methods of robotic space exploration. The X PRIZE Foundation, best known for the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE for private suborbital spaceflight, is an educational nonprofit prize organization whose goal is to bring about radical breakthroughs to solve some of the greatest challenges facing the world today.

“The Google Lunar X PRIZE calls on entrepreneurs, engineers and visionaries from around the world to return us to the lunar surface and explore this environment for the benefit of all humanity,” said Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, Chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation. “We are confident that teams from around the world will help develop new robotic and virtual presence technology, which will dramatically reduce the cost of space exploration.”

“Having Google fund the purse and title the competition punctuates our desire for breakthrough approaches and global participation,” continued Diamandis. “By working with the Google team, we look forward to bringing this historic private space race into every home and classroom. We hope to ignite the imagination of children around the world.”

Base Camp Moon

The fruits of the previous moon expeditions have provided scientists with astounding information and insights. Over the years, this information has helped shape technological advancements in fields as diverse as biology, geology, astrophysics and chemistry. In 2018, astronauts will once again set foot on the lunar surface, with the goal being to ultimately establish a presence on Mars and beyond. Astronauts, scientists and engineers will use the moon as a training ground to develop and refine the technologies that such an ambitious vision demands.

NASA’s Plans to Return to the Moon

This is an exciting and inspirational video highlighting some of the hardware that will return humanity to the Moon within the next decade.

The High Road to the Moon

Neil Armstrong’s one small step for [a] man was the culmination of the greatest scientific, technological and cultural advance in human history. It was indeed a giant leap for mankind. It proved, beyond any question of doubt, that humankind had taken the first evolutionary stride in becoming a multi-planetary species. While history will bear witness that July 20th, 1969 marked a technological and political victory for the United States, in its Cold War race to beat the Soviet Union to the moon, in point of fact it was also an international triumph. The tireless effort of numerous scientists, engineers and visionaries from many lands had finally come to fruition. Thirty years before this pivotal event, a group of far-sighted Brits known as the British Interplanetary Society (BIS) set forth the guidelines for such a lunar voyage.
The British Interplanetary Society (BIS) was founded in 1933 by Mr. P.E. Cleator in the city of Liverpool. As noted by writer David H. Szondy it “was blessed with a fortuitous mixture of circumstances. On the one hand it boasted a membership of highly intelligent individuals with active imaginations. And on the other, English law prohibited civilian rocket experiments, which probably saved several bank accounts and quite a few limbs.” In 1937 it was decided to begin a study of a Lunar landing mission, in order to prove that such missions were possible.” The results of that study were subsequently published in the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society of January and July 1939.

It used as its base line, the most advanced rocket technology known in Britain at the time – powdered rockets. Later in 1947 the Moonship was redesigned when German advances with liquid fuelled rockets, during the Second World War, came to light. Never the less, the original 1939 study pushed the technological envelope of what could possibly be envisaged with solid propellant. There lies the innovative beauty of this study. The rocket they designed was unprecedented in its size. It was the solid fuelled equivalent of the mighty Saturn V. Their design called for a rocket which was 100 feet tall by 20 feet in diameter and weighed more than 1,000 tonnes. Its propulsion system was comprised of six booster stages consisting of 2,490 solid fuelled rockets arranged in cellular honeycombs.

This enormous rocket was to be launched from a floating platform with the rocket itself place inside a partially submerged caisson on a high-altitude lake near the equator. Two locations considered were Lake Titicaca and Lake Victoria. The one tonne spacecraft crowning it consisted of a pressurised cabin reminiscent of the Apollo command module. Its mission was to deliver a crew of three to the lunar surface. The landing gear was very similar to that eventually used in the Apollo Lunar Module thirty years later. And, because the effects of weightlessness were unknown at the time, the BIS lunar ship was to be rotated around its major axis to create artificial gravity.

In order to compensate for the ships rotation they designed an optical instrument for navigational purposes known as the Coelostat. Its function was to provide a stationary view of the heavens from within the ship.

When the mission was completed the spaceship was to re-enter the earth’s atmosphere and use a parachute for final descent.

One of the greatest what ifs of history is, weather or not the mission as originally conceived, could have been completed successfully. Could Great Britain have been the first to the moon? British science fiction writers Stephen Baxter and Simon Bradshaw have written such a story entitled “First to the Moon” and is one of series of stories being conceived about a possible British space program if history had only unfolded differently. The only other story written so far is “Prospero One”.
The remarkable story behind this mission is told in wonderful book entitled “The High Road to the Moon”. It contains the collected pictures of R.A. Smith with text by Bob Parkinson. Originally published in 1979, it is now available from the British Interplanetary Society on CD.
Yet, Britain never became an active participant in the space race. It wasn’t because of a major lack of technical know how but, a major lack of political will as outlined in the book “A Vertical Empire: The History of the UK Rocket and Space Programme, 1950-1971″ by C.N. Hill.
Many of the pictures used in this article are to be credited to Mark Wade, and his very informative website Encyclopedia Astronautica and the late R.A. Smith of the British Interplanetary Society.
Finally, I would like to dedicate this article to the original BIS Moonship design team led by J Happian Edwards and which included: H Bramhill (draftsman), Arthur C Clarke (astronomer), A V Cleaver (aircraft engineer), M K Hanson (mathematician), Arthur Hanser (chemist), S Klemantski (biologist), HE Ross (electrical engineer), and R A Smith (turbine engineer). Their pioneering work eventually paved the way for the voyages of Apollo.