Why did people fly away from the moon
On December 14, 1972, American astronaut Gene Cernan uttered the fateful words “We are taking the last step from the surface of the moon, returning home to return one day - in the not too distant future - with peace and hope for all mankind,” went into the Challenger module, closed hatch, and humanity left the moon. For the past 45 years there has not been a single manned interplanetary flight.
Today, they talk a lot about flights to the Moon and Mars, politicians, businessmen, astronauts, but man still does not leave Earth further than 410 km - the height of the International Space Station. The Space Shuttle traveled a bit higher - by 610 km, when the Hubble space telescope was repaired. All this seems negligible compared with the lunar achievements of 1968-1972.
The loss of any real interest in manned space flight for flights to the moon and beyond, even becomes the basis for a number of conspiracy theories. Someone thinks that there were no flights at all, and epoch-making shots were taken in the Hollywood pavilion.Someone believes that the messengers of mankind on the moon met with something that had forever discarded them from flying: either by banning aliens, or worse.
The reason for stopping the flights of people to the moon is closely related to the reason that once sent people to the moon. Today, when it comes to the need for people to fly to the natural satellite of the Earth, various motives are listed:
- scientific - to study the soil, moon caves, build observatories;
- economic - to extract Helium-3, to establish tourism;
- political - to establish their presence, to expand the territory of their state beyond the Earth.
However, these grounds are divorced from scientific, economic and political realities. Scientific tasks are successfully performed by unmanned spacecraft, the near-moon environment and the surface were studied and studied by satellites from the USA, China, India, and Japan. The Chinese lunar rover landed in 2013, and in the coming years, the Celestial Empire plans to deliver the soil and disembark the rover on the opposite side. Russia is preparing a series of probes in the circumpolar regions, where it is supposed to detect and explore lunar water ice and other volatile compounds.Automatic stations are much cheaper than manned launches.
Of course, astronauts have done an incredible amount for science. Thanks to the collected soil, it was possible to establish the origin of the moon, and to obtain fundamental data on the evolution of the solar system. The extracted samples and other actual materials of their flights are analyzed to this day. On the other hand, practically all these tasks could be solved by automatic means, and by orders of magnitude lower costs. The Soviet Union did just that when it realized that the manned program was too complicated.
Of course, the Soviet automata did less, if we compare the mass of the delivered soil: 382 kg from six places from Apollo, against 326 g from three places from the Soviet “Lun”. Comparison of the complex of all the experiments shows a great similarity: biological experiments, research of radiation, solar wind, cartography were implemented by the Zond program, and geology, geomorphology, and drilling were conducted by lunar rovers and landing stations.
The prospects for lunar astronomy are foggy in the literal sense of the word. Although from the engineering point of view, the near-moon environment is a vacuum, it is not very clean.The moon has a very rarefied atmosphere, and is shrouded in clouds of fine dust that rises due to meteorite bombardment and electrostatic effects on the surface. For optical astronomy, it is more acceptable to use orbiting telescopes in near-earth orbit or at Lagrange points. The moon offers some perspectives for radio astronomy, but they are not enough to send manned expeditions there.
The economic outlook for the moon is also very illusory. The isotope Helium-3, which is often recalled in the context of the future exploration of the moon, is not in demand today in the economy of the Earth enough to ensure the profitability of mining on the moon. Helium-3 is now produced as a by-product of the production and storage of tritium. The market value of Helium-3 is about $ 3 thousand dollars / kg, which is not enough for the payback of lunar mining. For example: the extraction of 1 kg of Helium-3 will require processing of 10 thousand tons of lunar regolith. So far, the economically advantageous controlled reaction of thermonuclear fusion based on Helium-3 has not been mastered, the economic prospects of the lunar miners are out of the question.
The recoupment of lunar tourism is also not visible. Currently, the two companies offer the opportunity to visit the circumlunar orbit without landing, for $ 75-120 million - this is the Russian “RSC Energia” and the American SpaceX. No tourist has flown yet. According to RSC Energia representatives, there is an interest of individual customers, but in order for flights to become economically profitable, at least 10 customers are needed, but only eight were found. SpaceX representatives reported two interested customers.
Flying with landing on the surface will cost at least ten times more expensive, and those who want to have to look for even longer than a simple flight.
Claims on the lunar territories by individual states or private companies are untenable under international law. Article 2 of the Treaty on the Principles of State Activities in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, states: “Outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation either by proclaiming sovereignty on them or by using or occupying nor by any other means. ”Of courseA state can ignore international agreements, even those that have signed it themselves, but do not think that other countries will accept such a violation.
In other words, the motives of the flight, which today seem weighty enough, are not enough to find money for people to visit the moon. But even in the 1960s, these motives were just not enough. An even more powerful stimulus was needed, and in order to understand it, one needs to go back half a century ago and remember that world and those people.
The development of astronautics began during the Second World War. The A4 ballistic missiles, better known as the V-2, exceeded the altitude of 100 km and turned out to be the first products of human hands in space. The world after the fall of the Third Reich developed under the great influence of the events that led to the end of the War. The allied powers: the USSR, the USA, Great Britain were able to sit at the negotiating table and join forces only under the condition of an external common enemy. Hardly Hitler's Germany fell, as former friends began to prepare for a new war. In the summer of 1945, the Joint Planning Headquarters of the military cabinet of Great Britain secretly began to work out the operation “Unthinkable”, which involved the fighting of the US and British armies against the USSR army in Western and Eastern Europe.At the end of 1945, the “Totality” plan was worked out at the headquarters of the American General Dwight Eisenhower, involving the atomic bombing of 20 major cities of the USSR.
The experience of the past world war, as well as the high military and industrial potential of the Soviet Union, kept the United States and Great Britain from trying to solve political issues by military means. The USSR, in turn, by all means claimed the communist system in Eastern Europe and contributed to the development of the communist movement in Western. The post-war world was formed in the new conditions of confrontation between the capitalist and communist forms of the development of statehood and the economy.
In 1947, US President Harry Truman, in a speech before Congress, formulated the basic principles of the so-called. “Truman Doctrines” - foreign policy of confronting the expansion of the spheres of influence of the Soviet Union on other countries. In 1949, the so-called “Fulton speech” is already the former British Prime Minister, but still an influential politician Winston Churchill in the United States. Churchill announced the establishment of an "iron curtain" over the countries of Eastern Europe, which were occupied by Soviet troops after World War II.At the same time, Churchill argued that it was necessary to sit at the negotiating table with the Soviet Union, but to lead them from a position of strength.
An important military advantage of the United States and Britain was nuclear weapons. When the Soviet Union made the first tests of its own atomic bomb in 1949, it finally became clear that a direct military collision was impossible. Thus, the foundations of the Cold War and the emergence of two poles of political influence in the world were laid: capitalist with the United States and Great Britain, and communist with the USSR and, later, China.
Despite the appearance of atomic weapons in each of the “poles”, the United States felt its superiority in strategic aviation, jet fighter aviation and air defense systems. That is, any military confrontation between superpowers was considered possible only on the territory of the USSR or Eastern Europe. This situation did not suit the Soviet Union, which was the reason for the allocation of serious resources for the development of new rocket technologies.
The launch of the first satellite in 1957 from Baikonur was a shock to both politicians and US citizens. Confident in their technological superiority, invulnerability from enemy attacks,and prepared by the classics of American fiction for the conquest of space, people felt completely helpless when a small silver ball squeaked over their heads. Alien, uncontrollable and inaccessible.
The attempt to launch the American satellite Vanguard TV3, two months after the Soviet one, turned into a national disgrace. The rocket exploded rising just a meter from the launching table under the eyes of dozens of journalists and their cameras.
The first US satellite flew 4 months later than the Soviet. In the future, the lag was maintained. American astronaut Alan Shepard went into space for a few minutes along a ballistic trajectory three weeks after Yuri Gagarin, who made a full-fledged orbital flight. The first orbital flight of the American John Glenn took place almost a year later. In the summer of 1962, two Soviet cosmonauts on two ships appeared in space at once. 1963 - Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman astronaut. In 1964, the Soviet Union had a new modification of the spacecraft, which allowed sending simultaneously three people. In the USA, the Gemini double ship appeared a year later.March 25, 1965, the Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov went out into space, astronaut Edward White repeated this only after two months.
Astronautics has become part of the sharp confrontation of the superpowers, which took place in almost all areas. The only difference in manned astronautics was its peaceful nature, although regular or former military personnel flew into space. In 1967, the United States, the USSR and other UN countries signed the “Agreement on the Rescue of Cosmonauts”, in which they expressed their readiness to provide all kinds of assistance and assistance to any astronaut or astronaut in the event of a forced landing, regardless of his nationality. At the same time, in the international arena, the confrontation of countries was rigid, which led first to the Berlin crisis in 1961, and then to the Caribbean crisis in 1962. The world was on the verge of the start of the Third World and First Nuclear War.
In those conditions, the competition of political regimes and economic systems took place in almost all spheres. The standard of living of citizens, sporting achievements, economic indicators, the number of military units and their technical equipment, power and number of nuclear and thermonuclear charges. Indirectly, full-fledged hostilities took place in Korea or Vietnam.In that world, the United States practically could not allow the superiority of the USSR in space. They needed an achievement comparable to the flight of the first man into space in their influence on all of humanity, and the Hollywood Pavilion would not have coped with this task.
The flight of Yuri Gagarin became the starting point of the beginning of the lunar program of the USA. The flight of Alan Shepard on May 25, 1961 confirmed the capabilities of the newly created national space agency NASA. Having consulted and enlisted the support of engineering specialists, the young and new president John Kennedy read his famous speech “We choose to go to the Moon” (“We decide to go to the Moon”). The stated goal was unattainable at that time, but the main stages of the flight were roughly understandable and theoretically achievable, if sufficient funds were allocated.
It is further known that the funds were allocated, the aerospace industry of the USA aimed at one task, and it went to it for almost 10 years. In some years in the 60s, the funds allocated by the state of NASA accounted for up to 4.5% of the country's annual budget.
Such dimensions of space funding have not been repeated in the entire history of astronautics.According to some information, about the same percentage of the Soviet Union allocated in the 80s for the program “Buran”.
Unfortunately, during the preparation, and during the implementation of the Apollo program, with the flights of people to the moon and visiting its surface, no new task was found. The propaganda goal - to prove to the whole world that in the USA space surpasses its adversary, it was fulfilled, and the meaning of colossal budgets was lost on further flights.
On December 12, 2017, on the 45th anniversary of the landing of the last Apollo-17 mission, the new US President Donald Trump signed Directive No. 1 on US space policy. Directive 1 proclaims: The first step in the return of American astronauts to the moon for the first time since 1972 for long-term study and development. This time we will not only set our flag and leave our traces - we will create the basis for a possible mission to Mars and, perhaps, someday, to many worlds that lie beyond it.
Even earlier, in September 2017, NASA and Roskosmos signed the “Joint Statement on Cooperation in the Field of Exploration and Exploration of Deep Space and the Creation of a Moon-Visited Deep Space Gateway Platform”.
What today was the reason for the return of US interest to the moon? An economic or political confrontation with Russia is no longer suitable here, given that flights to the moon are assumed to be joint. More likely the emergence of a new competitor - China. Today, Chinese astronautics is actively developing, but still at a catching pace. In the early 2020s, it is planned to create a Chinese multi-module orbital station in a near-earth orbit - an analogue of the Soviet “Peace”. At the same time, the operation of the International Space Station, which the United States, Russia, Europe, Canada and Japan are involved in, is expected until 2024. That is, by the mid-2020s, it may turn out that China will become the only space power to have a space station. Even if the ISS flight is extended, it turns out that China is still superior, because it has its own station, and the ISS is common, although it belongs to most of the United States.
In terms of demonstrating superiority, the United States needs a new, more serious program outside of near-earth orbit. The project of moving a small asteroid and a flight to it, which was advanced by the administration of the former President Barack Obama,prestige is not suitable for such a role because of the short duration of the program and the insignificance of accomplishment. Therefore, America needs a near-moon station Deep Space Gateway, which, without landing on the moon, looks defective.
China just as well has an incentive to get to the moon in a manned mode. Then he will be able to overcome the catch-up stereotype, and confirm his cosmic leadership. The cosmonautics of China has not officially officially threatened a manned flight to the Moon in the coming years, although it is clear that the technical development of the flight stages is already under way.
Whoever first came to the moon in the 21st century, we have a chance to become witnesses or participants in the new interplanetary manned cosmonautics. It remains only to hope that we will find new meanings of such flights besides achieving a sense of the moral superiority of some earthlings over others.
Prepared for the popular science portal "Attic".
Published in the author's edition.
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Who is working in the village, if there is not a single enterprise I can not leave, there is nobody to leave my parents