It has been more than 45 years since the lunar surface was visited by humans and the next visit to the satellite appears to take longer than many wish.
Interest in visiting the Moon again is on the rise. Astronauts and businessmen have claimed that reaching the satellite could be beneficial for evolution on Earth, and even the economy. But there are several obstacles they face, which has meant that, despite the arguments, no person has visited the Moon in more than 45 years.
Chris Hadfield, a former NASA astronaut, told Business Insider that the next logical step for him is to build a research station on the Moon. That facility could be used as a fuel depot for those missions that are in deep space.
He also highlighted other utilities among which are the creation of better telescopes and the development of research to unravel mysteries about planet Earth and the Moon itself.
Hadfield argued that the satellite is only three days away, so even if the mission fails, no human lives are at risk.
On the other hand, private companies have shown their interest in the project. Among them, Elon Musk’s Space X, which is developing rockets to explore space; and Blue Origins, by Jeff Bezos.
In April 2018, Bezos stressed that his goal is to move the entire industrial part of the companies to the Moon and thus allow the Earth to become a light and specifically residential planet.
What are the obstacles for humans to return to the moon?
The main challenges are related to budget and politics. A 2005 report by NASA reveals that returning to the Moon could cost around $ 104 trillion (billions), which today translates to $ 133 trillion from inflation.
Donald Trump assigned an annual budget of only $ 19.5 billion in March 2017, which could rise to $ 19.9 billion by 2019. That money must be distributed among various projects managed by the space agency, such as the exploration of Mars or the James Webb space telescope.
Management changes in the US government also create a downside. Especially since presidents’ research interests vary. While the current president supports Moon-related projects, the next one could freeze them to prioritize other research.
There are also technical problems. In 2014, Madhu Thangavelu, an aeronautical engineer at the University of Southern California, published a letter warning of other types of obstacles. Specifically, the large amount of dust on the lunar surface, the overexposure to the sun’s rays, and the icy weather that covers the Moon during some days of the year.
On the other hand, Thangavelu stressed that, due to the proximity of the Moon to the Earth, it is the most suitable place to learn to live outside the planet.
NASA has already designed sun and dust-resistant suits. But it is not yet known if these designs will be released or if they were part of a project that has already been canceled.