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RobotWhy Haven't Humans Walked on the Moon for Over 50 Years?

rexandros, Pixabay, pixabay.com


Houston, we have a problem. These words, spoken by Apollo 13 mission commander Jim Lovell in 1970, remain etched in the history of space exploration. But since the last Apollo mission in 1972, humans have not walked on the Moon. Why this more than 50-year hiatus in lunar exploration? To understand, let's first look back.

The First Step on the Moon

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong, commander of Apollo 11, became the first human to set foot on the Moon. His famous statement, "That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind," symbolized an extraordinary advancement in space exploration. Subsequent Apollo missions allowed twelve astronauts to tread lunar soil until 1972.

High Cost and Changing Priorities

One of the main reasons humans haven't walked on the Moon for so long is the high cost of lunar missions. The Apollo program was exceedingly expensive, consuming a significant portion of NASA's budget. As governmental priorities shifted, resources were reallocated to other projects, such as the Space Shuttle program and robotic missions to Mars.

The Era of Space Shuttles

After Apollo, the United States invested in Space Shuttles, which offered a more cost-effective approach to space access. While these shuttles enabled the launch of satellites and the execution of scientific experiments in Earth's orbit, they couldn't reach the Moon. Manned missions, therefore, focused on the International Space Station (ISS) and projects in Earth's orbit.

Lunar Exploration Returns to the Agenda

However, in recent years, lunar exploration has returned to the agenda. NASA, with the Artemis program, aims to send astronauts back to the Moon, targeting a 2024 goal for the next lunar landing. Additionally, international space agencies and private companies have ambitious plans for the Moon, including SpaceX and the Russian Luna 25 mission.

The Advent of Private Lunar Exploration

A key element of this new era of lunar exploration is private sector participation. Companies like SpaceX, Blue Origin, and others are developing technologies and spacecraft to make lunar access more affordable. This collaboration between the public and private sectors could significantly change the future of lunar exploration.

In conclusion, the absence of manned missions to the Moon for over 50 years can be primarily attributed to budgetary reasons and shifting priorities. However, lunar exploration is regaining momentum, with ambitious plans for the future. The coming years may well mark the return of humans to the Moon, this time with international collaboration and active participation from the private sector.


Sources


Science - 25 septembre 2023 - Rael2012 - CC BY 2.5 - Voir l'historique

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