Humanity just planted its flag on the far side of the moon.
China’s robotic Chang’e 4 mission touched down on the floor of the 115-mile-wide (186 kilometers) Von Kármán Crater Wednesday night (Jan. 2), pulling off the first-ever soft landing on the mysterious lunar far side.
Chang’e 4 will perform a variety of science work over the coming months, potentially helping scientists better understand the structure, formation and evolution of Earth’s natural satellite. But the symbolic pull of the mission will resonate more with the masses: The list of unexplored locales in our solar system just got a little shorter. [Watch: China’s Historic Landing on the Moon’s Far Side!]
Congrats to China. Hopefully this lights a fire under us to do the same. Though it seems like we’re more focused on manned flight to the Moon with private partnerships. Via nasa.gov:
Dec. 13, 2018
NASA Seeks US Partners to Develop Reusable Systems to Land Astronauts on Moon
As the next major step to return astronauts to the Moon under Space Policy Directive-1, NASA announced plans on Dec. 13 to work with American companies to design and develop new reusable systems for astronauts to land on the lunar surface. The agency is planning to test new human-class landers on the Moon beginning in 2024, with the goal of sending crew to the surface in 2028.
Through upcoming multi-phased lunar exploration partnerships, NASA will ask American companies to study the best approach to landing astronauts on the Moon and start the development as quickly as possible with current and future anticipated technologies.
“Building on our model in low-Earth orbit, we’ll expand our partnerships with industry and other nations to explore the Moon and advance our missions to farther destinations such as Mars, with America leading the way,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “When we send astronauts to the surface of the Moon in the next decade, it will be in a sustainable fashion.”
You’d think it would take us less than 10 years to develop the technology to land on the Moon if we had been there 50 years ago, right? Why are we “building on our model in low-Earth orbit” if we should already have a model of actually having gone to the Moon? The chief problem to getting a crew there and back still seems to be the Van Allen radiation belt, which we allegedly went through 50 years ago. Did you know that NASA’s official position is that we had the technology, but we destroyed it, and it’s too difficult to build it back up again? Seriously.
I’ll be making a much more comprehensive post on this in the near future, but assuming we went already this whole timeline seems unfortunately long. The notion that there was no point in going back to the Moon after the initial Moon landings is pure silliness.