The Cost of the conquest of the night lights

The Cost of the conquest of the night lights

Judging by the announced plans of lunar missions in the next decade, soon on the Moon can get very crowded. Harness the moon are keen to Israel, the USA, Russia and Asian countries. How much will it cost them?

April 12, the Day of Cosmonautics, the world learned the sad news that Israel failed first attempt to join the club of space powers, have carried out a soft landing on the moon system. Well, but SpaceX made its first commercial launch of super-heavy rocket Falcon Heavy, which is capable of delivering cargo to the orbit of the moon. Plans for the Study of the satellite have also in China, India and Russia. All this suggests that the competition for the development of the Moon in the near future may become very acute.

With its regulations

Although the Israeli probe "Genesis" was not able to make the planned soft landing on the moon, the project itself shows interest to the satellite from countries that previously did not dare to look beyond the Earth's orbit.

SpaceIL company originally made the device for the competition Google Lunar X Prize, in which the main prize was $ 30 million. In 2018 konkrus X Prize declared void, since none of the contestants could not meet the required deadlines. However, Israel did not panic and continued to work on the project, which cost as a result of $ 100 million.

The device was equipped with only two research tools, but its importance is not so much a scientific as a fashion. If successful, Israel would have entered the inner circle of powers, made a soft landing on the moon. Previously this was possible only to the USSR, the USA and China.

The White House, the gray moon

The most ambitious plans for the development of the Moon are hatching in the United States. Americans do not just want to continue to send stand-alone devices, but to start a whole new wave of development of the Earth's satellite. Donald Trump had planned for NASA for 2020 fiscal year budget amounts to $ 21 billion in financing space agency has been growing over the last few years, but this year was special:. NASA expects to spend half of the allocated amount to the lunar program. In this regard, the organization has introduced a large-scale multi-year plan. Following it, the US is not just back, but to fully lock into place on the Earth's satellite.

Technically NASA idea rests on three pillars - super-heavy launch SLS, Orion manned spacecraft and lunar Lunar Gateway station. It is designed for the period until the end of the 20s of the XXI century.

Bundle SLS-Orion (which will be used by modification of Block 1 missile capable display 26 tonnes payload into orbit Moon) should perform mission EM1 - test unmanned flight to the moon. As noted later, the head of NASA Jim Braydenstayn this flight organizations intend to carry out almost any cost: if work on the SLS will be delayed, then the Orion lunar orbit will bring a commercial carrier. For example, this can go up or SpaceX rocket ULA companies, including which started April 12 Falcon Heavy.

In 2023, according to NASA's plans to take place EM-2 mission - a full nine-SLS-Orion flight to the moon orbit with a crew of four astronauts. Landing on the moon's surface will not be performed.

The Cost of the conquest of the night lights

In the mid-2020s. should start near the Moon Station Gateway - ISS analogue of the elliptical orbit of the moon is closer to the satellite to approximately 1,500 kilometers.

This large-scale project involves the participation of not only NASA's, but also the European Space Agency, similar agencies in Canada, Japan, and "Roscosmos", which will be responsible for multi-station module.

The Cost of the conquest of the night lights

Also in the mid-2020s. on the moon landing is scheduled test of the lunar module. After the publication of NASA plan specified that the unmanned satellite to Earth to sit down in 2023.

The NASA document notes that the major contribution to lunar projects will be the private sector - by analogy with the ISS, its participation cheapen delivery of cargo to the moon's surface.

Terms of manned programs at NASA did not specify, but it is planned that by 2028 the astronauts return to the moon's surface.

NASA's Challenges

NASA's, like any government agency, depends on funding. The current organization of the plan can be implemented only if the existing flows of money and the interest of the Congress, which is only to approve the budget of the organization for 2020 financial year.

Even after the publication of the alleged NASA budget of US Vice President Mike Pence said that Trump needs to apply "all necessary measures" to return astronauts to the moon before the end of 2024.

Of course, the US president would like to see a return to the moon took place at the time of his alleged second term and is inextricably associated with it. In addition, it would allow Trump to check that the necessary amounts, not to repeat the situation with the space program, Constellation. NASA launched the last under George W. Bush, but it was phased out by Barack Obama.

However, it is doubtful that NASA plan can be accelerated by a factor of 2. Typically, both Russia and the United States, and private companies like SpaceX issued optimistic plans, which are then shifted to a later date. So most likely, even in 2028 - an optimistic estimate, but in 2024 - just a pre-election trick Trump. Now, according to past experience, we can expect that in 2020 lawmakers even "add" NASA's funds, but at the same time the organization will be even more dependent on its displayed results. She already has to make significant sacrifices in order to allocate money for the lunar program. Budget research programs cut by $ 600 million, according to estimates Spacenews that actually cancels another large-scale project - a space telescope WFIRST, who was considered one of the most important projects in space astronomy.

The nuclear plans

NASA lunar program is closely intertwined with the growing interest in the agency's nuclear technology. It is planned to develop nuclear energy to the Moon and Mars. A USA Today reported that the US space agency decided to return to the operating time of the space age and to raise the issue of the creation of nuclear rocket engines. The technology, according to Popular Mechanics, studied in the United States in the 1950-1960 years, but work on it was suspended in early 1970 due to "technical difficulties" and "lack of a clear need" it.

Now NASA rethinks experience and considers the progress made possible variant of the future of media. In contrast to the current chemical rockets, missiles, nuclear engine to allow to reach Mars in four months. For comparison, the last mission to the Red Planet (InSight) took about 7 months.

For the development of nuclear rocket engines $ 100 million has been allocated for 2019 NASA, but a demonstration of developments in this area is planned for 2024. The resulting experience NASA hopes to use not so much and not only for the creation of lunar bases, but for the conversion of the moon and the lunar station into a base for the conquest of the solar system. In particular, to prepare for a mission to Mars. However, this is a plan for the next decade ... and a very different level of cash costs.

Who will catch up with America?

Moon also attracted and Russia. In "Roskosmos" intend not merely to cooperate with the Americans in the creation of a lunar base, but also to develop their own vehicles and ships.

As the head of state corporation Dmitry Rogozin, developed in the RSC "Energia" manned spacecraft "Federation" will fly it to the moon, while the ISS service will remain at the "Union". The device, capable to accommodate up to four astronauts will be too expensive to carry out missions to the International Space Station, said Rogozin. ship trials will begin in 2022, and the year before that the corporation intends to launch a satellite to the Earth's apparatus "Luna-25" - probe for research in the area of ​​the south pole of the celestial body.

Also in the state corporation Russian space considering the option of creating a version of the "Union" protected from radiation, but it will require a cost of $ 400 million, which are not yet allocated.

Already approved by the president of the project for the development of the Moon - the creation of super-heavy rocket "Yenisei". The first launch is scheduled for 2028. The state corporation expects that the new carrier will be able to deliver on the moon's orbit a payload of 27 tons. cost of the project amounts to 740 billion rubles (about $ 11 billion, while NASA as of October 2018 spent on the SLS project is about $ 12 billion and disbursement continued).

But Russia - is not the only US rival. At the beginning of 2019 the Chinese unit "Chang'e-4" for the first time reached the side of the Moon. In May, a soft landing on the moon must implement an Indian probe "Chandrayaan-2".

Among the more distant plans, it may be noted the development of China svertyazheloy rockets and landing taikonaut in the 2020s. Each country is trying to the best of their forces: the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) and Toyota has developed a concept for double rover. Through the development of technology to achieve the moon has become easier and cheaper. Now in her study may be involved even country with a relatively small budget for space and private groups. While the Earth's moon does not promise practical benefits, but it became a "nizkovisyaschim fruit" - the most affordable abroad in future space exploration. That is why the country alone or cooperatively trying to reach the moon, explored reserves of water and other substances, as well as to conduct unique research that will not bring money, but will enter the pioneers in the history of the Earth.