It's no secret that NASA is planning to launch a lunar exploration program in 2024. This is supposed to be the second time NASA plans to send humans to the moon, but you know what? It's been 50 years since the last moon landing, and NASA actually had plans to send astronauts to Mars by the 1980s. If those plans go according to plan, astronauts will set foot on the red planet when Apple unveils the first Macintosh computer. But now that we have iphones, NASA has yet to send humans to Mars or even resume missions to the moon. What has kept NASA from sending humans to the moon for so long, and what unknown cosmic dangers do astronauts really face?
The first moon landing in 50 years
Everyone knew that the Apollo missions were dangerous and that any mistake could lead to an irreparable accident. As astronauts aboard the Apollo spacecraft circled the night side of the moon, they saw an unusually bright crescent moon on the lunar horizon. At the time, no one could have imagined that it would become a serious obstacle to lunar exploration. Scientists believe the eerie glow is caused by lunar dust trapped by strong electric fields reflecting off the moon's day-night boundary, where sunlight scatters through tiny particles and creates a glow.
It's a pretty sight, but abrasive, sticky, electrically charged dust is the scariest of them all, tearing through spacesuits and disabling equipment. On Mars, dust has also done a lot of damage to the rovers. But these are not the only problems. So why hasn't NASA sent anyone to the moon since the Apollo missions, and what about future plans for Mars?
One big obstacle to landing a man on the moon is budget. By 1974, the goal of winning the space race with the Soviet Union had been achieved. Government funding for NASA was cut from 4 percent of the federal budget to less than 1 percent, so NASA's focus shifted to low-Earth exploration and the space shuttle program. NASA's annual budget for 2022 increased by 3% to about $24 billion. And sending astronauts to the moon is very expensive, and NASA will have to save as much money as possible. Reliable spacecraft and launch vehicles are a priority. So why not use the previously proven Saturn V rocket?
NASA launched a total of 13 Saturn V rockets, sending 24 astronauts to the moon. Even now, 60 years later, the performance of the rocket is excellent. It is 111 meters high, 18 meters taller than the Statue of Liberty. The first-stage engine delivers 7.6 million pounds of thrust, which is equivalent to the power generated by 85 Hoover DAMS. The problem is, getting Saturn V back up and running is almost impossible. After the Apollo program ended, manufacturing plants were repurposed or closed. Moreover, after more than half a century, the spacecraft needed an upgrade. Even the development of a new car takes three years and building an aircraft takes six years. Just think how long it takes to build a rocket with over 3 million parts!
A new launch plan
NASA is currently developing a new launch vehicle, called the Space Launch System, which, along with the Orion spacecraft, will be used to fly to the moon and possibly to Mars in the future. Orion is an updated version of the Apollo spacecraft. It consists of a crew compartment and a service compartment. Orion is about 8 meters long and 5 meters in diameter. To test the spacecraft, scientists plan to first send it to the moon without astronauts. It will travel 64,300 kilometers across the moon in about three weeks. That's farther than any manned spacecraft has gone before. The spacecraft's crew module is equipped with life support, power systems and thermal protection, allowing astronauts to spend 21 days there during space missions.
The Artemis I test mission is scheduled to begin in the early 2020s, while the manned Artemis II mission will last about 10 days and take astronauts 7,400 kilometers to the far side of the moon. If all goes according to plan, the next Artemis III mission will land the first woman and the next man on the surface of our moon 39bet-xì dách-phỏm miền bắc-tiến lên miền bắc-xóc đĩa-game bắn cá.
Artemis mission manager Mike Sarafin said the team aims to achieve that goal by 2024. To ensure astronauts' safety, scientists have proposed a launch abort system consisting of three propellant rocket motors. If something goes wrong during launch, LAS will be activated immediately and an escape rocket will be used to pull the astronauts out of the falling rocket. When Orion returns to Earth and enters the atmosphere, it will reach speeds of 40,200 kilometers per hour and become very hot. To ensure safe return from deep space return speed, the spacecraft's crew compartment is protected by a large heat shield with a diameter of 5 meters and is able to withstand approximately 50% of the sun's temperature! However, the rocket is very expensive to build and its development is behind schedule.
Meanwhile, the Starship Human Landing System (HLS) is being built to allow astronauts to land safely on the moon. NASA has partnered with SpaceX to develop the first commercial human lander. The Space Launch System rocket will launch from Orion and carry four astronauts into lunar orbit. Two of the four crew members will be transferred to HLS to complete the final phase of their journey and land on the lunar surface.
A series of missions around the moon will prepare us for the next big step for humanity, a manned mission to the Red Planet. But taking the first settlers to the moon or Mars was just the beginning. After landing, the astronauts will need suitable living conditions. The most important things are food, water, energy and breathable air, and astronauts on the International Space Station are already trying to grow vegetables using soil MATS. Another technique involves hydroponics, where crops are grown in water rather than soil. The plan is to use solar energy, but it's not an easy task.
Experts believe that a space station would have to be built at the moon's north or south poles, with rotating solar panels raised to the lunar surface. In this way, they are not blocked by the Earth and constantly collect sunlight. To ensure dust resistance, NASA has developed spacesuits coated with wax crystals that create the "sliding lotus leaf effect," which is the phenomenon of droplets sliding across surfaces in the presence of nanostructures, as well as spacesuits with antistatic devices and ultrasonic cleaning.
All of this technology is incredible, but the human body is much more complicated because it can't be upgraded. A trip to Mars or a long stay on the moon can have terrible effects on the human body. In a weightless environment, bone and muscle mass begin to decrease, the heart weakens and blood vessels deform. Examination of astronauts who spent more than half a year on the International Space Station showed that their brains were also affected. The frontal and parietal lobes are most affected. These parts of the brain control the movement of the body. So without proper planning, the first people on Mars won't even be able to set foot on Mars.
To keep astronauts healthy, NASA is conducting a research program to prepare them for long-term space flight. The loss of muscle mass and weakness of the heart can be partially compensated for by daily exercise. But astronauts on the International Space Station go through two hours of intense training every day, and they return to Earth still extremely weak. Strength training can also slow the loss of bone mass. Until now, it has been impossible to rid astronauts of heart and blood vessel problems. Many problems can be solved by creating artificial gravity on space ships, but they are usually too small to accommodate centrifuges. But what if we built a spaceship that would spin around and create artificial gravity, as shown in science fiction movies?
The reality is that no space agency has the strength to do so. So far, conceptually, technically and financially, this is completely out of our reach. At the same time, there is cosmic radiation, which is equally destructive to humans. The Earth's atmosphere and magnetosphere shield us from ultraviolet, X-rays and gamma rays, and this protection is equivalent to a 30-meter thick concrete wall or an 80-centimeter lead shield.
But scientists have come up with a very simple solution to deal with space storms. Astronauts simply need to hide in the center of a ship or structure behind a specially built wall to safely hide from radiation from space. Vests with radiation-proof charged coatings are also being tested. But until now, we don't know how likely it is to eliminate deadly radiation on long flights, all of which has led some scientists to doubt the need for human missions to the moon and Mars.
But for now, the mission is almost inevitable, and people will be sent to the moon or even Mars. Do you think NASA's plan will succeed?