It’s no mystery that we, as a civilization, eventually want to have a footprint on multiple planets in our solar system. NASA themselves announced they have plans to have astronauts settle on Mars permanently, but before we can get there, it would be a good idea to build some sort of go-between.
The European Space Agency hadthe brilliant idea of building a space base in between the Earth and the Moon, just in between the fight between the gravitational pull of each. The positioning would keep the space base in between them at all times.
Image Credit: NASA/BBC
With the International Space Station’s expiration date set at some time in 2024, it’s a pretty good idea to start looking ahead with new space exploration possibilities. After all, the International Space Station has played a huge role in space exploration for more than two decades.
There is still not enough known about other planets in our solar system to have humans inhabit them right now, and a base in between Earth and the Moon would provide astronauts with the challenges they would need to face to live in deep space conditions without actually being too far away.
Among the things that astronauts would face are growing their own food in space for survival, as well as living off of 3D-printed supplies. Since the orbit between the Earth and the Moon isn’t as far away as Mars is from our planet, it would be easier to send emergency supplies via rocket and spacecraft if necessary.
We came a long way this year with the first successful test of an inflatable module on the International Space Station. This module was compact, and its internal volume could be increased with pressure. Such habitation modules could make future deep space missions possible, by providing easy-to-pack storage units or places for humans in space space environments to survive in.
The European Space Agency doesn't disagree with the importance of deep space exploration, but they seem to want to tackle it another way.
"Let me take you on a thought experiment about 10 years into the future," David Parker of the ESA said last month. "After 25 years of service, the International Space Station is coming to the end of its life, but now 1,000 times further out in space a new star has risen. A human outpost in deep space, located far out, where Earth and the Moon's gravity balance, a kind of crossroads in space."
"This is our deep space habitat, a new place to live and learn how to work in space, a kind of base camp for exploring the Solar System and reaching back down to the surface of the Moon," Parker continued. "Astronauts can look down on a Moon untroubled by humans in more than 50 years. We want to go back there; we've barely scratched the surface."
We’re currently jumping to other bodies in space and still know so little about our local habitat. A space base in between the Earth and the Moon would provide us with a hub in between that would make travel between the two significantly easier. As pointed out by David Parker, the Moon has hardly been touched, and we still want to know more about it as well.
One thing we know for sure is that the International Space Station is getting old, and some day it won’t be useful to us anymore. Things degrade, especially when they’re in space and are difficult to service.
It would be a long, a decade or more, in time before a base was possible to build in between the Earth and the Moon, but it would certainly be possible.
On the other hand, NASA and SpaceX are confident that they can put human beings on Mars within the next few decades, so it’ll be interesting to see whether we take baby steps to get there, like the ESA is suggesting, or if we’ll just dive right in.
More plans for the ESA's space base idea are expected to come into light later in the year at a conference.
Source: BBC, The Telegraph