The United States wants to build a long-term human outpost on the Moon by around 2030. Here’s all the tech that will be needed, from a space station in lunar orbit to a way to avoid “space hay fever”
September 13, 2022
The most powerful rocket ever built sits on a launch pad in Florida. Above an intercom, crowds of spectators listen to the countdown – “4, 3, 2…” – then the bottom of the rocket begins to rumble. The vibrations first pass through the soles of the observers’ feet, then hit their bodies like an ocean wave. Jets of steam and fire ricochet off the concrete, and suddenly the rocket explodes skyward. The astronauts inside watch the countryside shrink below them as they begin their journey to the moon.
This scene could be from six decades ago – or it could be just a few years in the future. The launches of the Artemis missions that the United States hopes will soon get people back to the Moon will look a lot like the Apollo launches of the 1960s. But that’s where the similarities end. “Apollo was great, but it was mostly to prove we could do it,” says NASA’s Steve Creech. “I’m not saying it wasn’t important, but this time we want to do it in a way that is sustainable and that leads to the next steps.” In other words, it’s not just about going back to the moon. These are the first glimmers of what many hope will be a sustained campaign of human space exploration.