Moon missions are essential to the exploration of more distant worlds. Extended lunar stays build the experience and expertise needed for the long-term space missions required to visit other planets. The moon may also be used as a forward base of operations on which humans learn how to replenish essential supplies, such as rocket fuel and oxygen, by creating them from local material.
July 20th is Moon Day, a date to commemorate the first time a human stepped onto the Moon. It was 46 years ago in 1969 that Apollo 11 landed on the Moon with astronaut Neil Armstrong to be the first person ever to set foot on its surface and uttering what turned out to be one of the most famous quotes of all time: “… One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
These days with commercial space travel and even space tourism a reality, it can seem like there’s no limit to where humans might go next. Still, with amazing (at least if you’re a billionaire) advances such as the Mars Rover and the recent New Horizons’ zip past Pluto, one could be left to wonder if people will ever leave the earth again or merely will observe what unmanned spacecraft record for us. And with last year’s tragedy of the Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo crash, for each advance made it seems there are just as many or more setbacks.
Still, NASA aims to have humans return to the Moon in 2020. According to a National Geographic article, as part of the Constellation Program the mission to the Moon would be to prepare astronauts for future visits to Mars and “possibly beyond.” The article goes on to report the following:
As for the future of space tourism, enterprising eyes are still very much on the prize. Virgin Galactic, SpaceX and even Boing and plenty more companies aim ever higher and farther in their pursuit to make space travel a more viable option for civilians (to date there have only been seven actual “space tourists”).
Do you dream of someday venturing into space? If you have vast sums of wealth at your disposal would a trip beyond the Earth’s atmosphere be at the top of your bucket list?