Space exploration is always an intriguing topic, but this year, the hot new real estate seems to be the moon. With NASA interested in the moon's natural craters for dwelling during astro-missions, and the European Space Agency eyeballing the celestial body for possible habitation, it's no surprise that Russia, the original space-race competitors, are throwing their furry hats into the ring.
|Their habitation pods could feasibly be built like Matryoshka dolls for extra security.|
(Image courtesy dailymail.co.uk.)
Humans love the moon. Our weird neighbor of the solar system, its face has graced artwork in every major civilization, its influence has appeared in everything from religious lore to the ocean's tides, and its considered one of mankind's greatest achievements that we not only went up there, but took a spin around, and even played some golf. Now, according to HNGN.com, the Russian space agency Roscosmos has shown a vested interest in setting up shop in the Siberia of space.
|That's as close to onion-dome architecture as you can get, in space.|
(Image courtesy pics-about-space.com.)
Russians are industrious folks, and this isn't the first time they've tried to literally reach for the moon. Although the program was officially classified and even denied by the Russian government until the glasnost era post-1990, a major initiative called Zvezda was planned in the 1960s and '70s. The plan was to land 9 habitation pods plus atomic batteries fed by a nuclear reactor, as well as a train-like transportation device that could move both the astronauts and the hab modules around for exploration on the moon. The project would have worked in conjunction with Russia's rocketry program, and was intended to support a crew of 9 to 12 cosmonauts on the lunar surface. Ultimately scrapped due to the cost (50 billion rubles), the plans were nonetheless developed and well-assessed by Russia's top scientific minds of the time.
According to the Huffington Post UK, the current plan would be similar to the Zvedza, as well as the construction of the International Space Station. Six rockets would independently fly different parts of the base to the moon, and once these pieces were either in lunar orbit or on the regolith itself, the manned mission would commence to assemble everything.
The Angara A5V rocket, a project still in development by Roscosmos, would be the delivery vehicle. Ideally, the manned elements of the mission would commence in the late 2020s, with actual lunar touchdown in 2030. While one version of the rocket currently exists, Russian news agency Tass reports that a scaled-up version would be needed for the mission to be a success. Construction on the Luna 25 lander has already commenced.
|A beast from the East...the Angera rocket would be putting in some seriously heavy lifting.|
(Image courtesy tass.ru.)
Is this a serious next step in mankind's development, or hot air as opposed to rocket fuel? As Yahoo News UK reports, deputy premier Dmitry Rogozin wrote in a Rossiiskaya Gazeta government news article, "The moon is not an intermediate point in the race. Ot is a separate, even a self-contained goal...It would hardly be rational to make some ten or 20 flights to the moon, and then wind it all up and fly to the Mars or some asteroids...This process has the beginning, but has no end. We are coming to the moon forever."
So there you have it. Give them a few extra months to grow some potatoes and distill it into vodka, and it's moon martinis at the South Moon Space Bar by the 2030s. Take a good long gaze at the sky tonight, and wonder how many more humans might soon be enjoying it close-up.
|We've said it before, and we'll say it again: it may not sound sustainable,|
but it sure is fascinating to think about.
This image, from a 1961 Russian comic, depicts a theoretical Russian moon society.
(Image courtesy pinterest.com.)