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Lunar Race Heats Up in 2022 – Why More Than 7 Countries Are Heading To The Moon, Including The United States, Russia, India And China?

The year 2022 should see several lunar missions. The majority of these missions are part of NASA’s multibillion-dollar Artemis program, which aims to send astronauts to the moon later this decade and perform routine science missions on its surface in preparation for future trips to Mars. .

This year, the US space agency NASA will begin its Artemis program. It will send the first female astronaut to the moon, along with the equipment and materials needed to maintain a long-term presence on the lunar surface with the help of other partners. They will be used by future astronauts who will go there.

India, Japan, Russia and South Korea will also launch their respective lunar missions in 2022. In addition to these, a number of other countries and companies are planning to launch satellites into Earth orbit this year.

The Apollo 12 commander examines the robotic Surveyor 3 spacecraft during its second extravehicular activity (EVA) on the moon.

On the other hand, the two biggest American adversaries decided to join forces for a lunar mission. China and Russia have announced a collaborative effort to build a lunar base by 2027, eight years earlier than originally planned, alongside the US $ 100 billion Artemis mission to send humans to the moon from here. 2025, as previously reported by the EurAsian Times. One would expect preparations for this base to begin soon.

According to space experts, most lunar missions will be unmanned and could provide essential materials for living on the moon, so that within a decade humans can start living on the moon. Along with this, there is also a plan to build a lunar space station.

But that will not be the ultimate goal of these missions. In fact, this will be the first step in the plan to walk on Mars. Dr Zoë Leinhardt, an astrophysicist at the University of Bristol, told the BBC – this year will see a new kind of space race and the names of many more countries will be added to that list.

Most of these will be lunar exploration missions, but there will be some whose purpose is greater than a long stay on the moon. Linhart says, “Some assignments are designed as a first step towards a larger project. A mission to the Moon will not only be an opportunity to prove new concepts, but it will also be an opportunity to test new space technologies and new partnerships. “

American Artemis for the moon and beyond!

NASA plans to build an Artemis base camp on the moon where astronauts can reside and serve as a space bridge. It will be equipped with a state-of-the-art mobile home and rover, allowing for an unprecedented lunar exploration adventure. This will make it easier to prepare for the Mars landing in the future.

The Space Launch System (SLS), NASA’s most powerful rocket to date, will be involved in this mission. He will fly the Orion spacecraft to the moon and test the vehicle that will bring the crew there.

Space launch system - Wikipedia
Space launch system (via Wikipedia)

In addition, NASA’s $ 2.6 billion Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) effort will launch a massive robotic flight program as part of its preparations to build a lunar colony.

The first expeditions to the Moon will take place this year and will include sending a flotilla of space robots. These probes, which are being built by private companies with support from NASA, will attempt to map groundwater deposits, search the deep interior of the moon and deploy robot rovers to survey the lunar surface.

The information gathered as part of the Artemis program will be used to build the footbridge. “The gateway will be a space station near the moon that will provide the necessary support for humans to stay on the moon for an extended period. “

Dr. Hannah Sargent, a planetologist at the University of Central Florida, says walking on the moon is just the first step towards achieving a major goal.

“The robotic mission to be accomplished on the moon will be the start of a great plan. Based on this, further preparations will be made to send a space station near the moon, a base camp to the moon and later to send humans to Mars, ”she told the BBC.

Thus, one could understand that the American Artemis mission is part of a much larger plan. He’ll start by sending out unmanned missions to eventually establish a base that will take him skateboarding to Mars.

China-Russia lunar base

The International Lunar Research Station (ILRS), a collaborative lunar station between China and Russia, will house experimental research facilities for a variety of scientific purposes, including moon exploration, moon observation, research and technological verification.

The Sino-Russian joint lunar base plans can be interpreted as a response to their exclusion from the US Artemis agreements, which seek to advance the Artemis program with the support of its allies, as EurAsian Times previously reported.

Chang'e 4 - Wikipedia
Chang’e 4 (via Wikipedia)

The moon is believed to contain considerable deposits of silicon, rare earth metals, titanium, aluminum, water, precious metals, and helium-3 in terms of economic benefits. In addition, technologies created for a long-term lunar presence may find regular economic application in the future.

States protecting their lunar assets can deploy anti-satellite or anti-spacecraft weapons, or use the moon as a gravitational point to deploy military satellites or spacecraft that would be undetectable by standard space surveillance. This could be the main reason for this collaboration given that Russia and China have a common adversary and the militarization of space remains an inevitable precedent.

Russia’s flight to the moon after 4 decades

In addition to this collaborative effort, Russia has its own plans for the moon landings in 2022. The Luna-25 lander will descend to the moon in July, according to Russian space agency Roscosmos, as cited by TASS. It will be a completely autonomous lander.

It will be Russia’s first lunar mission in 45 years. Subsequently, Moscow plans to launch Luna-26 in 2024, Luna-27 in 2025 and Luna-28 in 2027-2028, the BBC said.

Chandrayaan from India

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is set to launch the ambitious Chandrayaan-3 mission in the third quarter of 2022. ISRO chief K Sivan said: “We’re working on it.

It has the same configuration as Chandrayaan-2 but will not have an orbiter. The orbiter launched during Chandrayaan-2 will also be used for Chandrayaan-3. With this we are working on a system and most of the time the launch will be next year in 2022.

File: Chandrayaan 2 module on GSLV MK III - Décollage.jpg - Wikimedia Commons
File Image: Chandrayaan 2 Module on GSLV MK III – Takeoff – Wikimedia Commons

The mission, which was due to launch in 2021, has been delayed due to lockdowns linked to Covid.

The Chandrayaan-3 builds on the findings of the first Chandrayaan mission, which launched in October 2008 and found indications of water on the lunar surface.

The third lunar mission comes two years after Chandrayaan-2 crashed into the far side of the moon. While the lander and rover crashed, the orbiter still hovers above the lunar surface and will also be used by ISRO for Chandrayaan-3.

The rover will send images of the Moon to the Earth, which will help with knowledge of the Moon’s surface. Chandrayaan-3 will also be used to land a rover on the far side of the moon. Snow and important minerals are believed to be present in this area, according to the BBC.

Japan’s smart lander

In April of this year, the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) plans to place a lander on the moon. Moon landing technologies will be tested with this mission, dubbed Smart Lander Falk Investigating the Moon (SLIM).

The facial recognition system will be used by this mission to collect data on the craters of the moon. It would also have a space telescope for the X-ray Imaging and Spectroscopy (XRISM) mission.

Using the HAKUTO-R commercial lander, the Japanese company ispace will send a miniature rover to the moon for the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Space.com said.

The rover will be used by JAXA to take pictures of the moon and collect data on moon dust, a corrosive substance that is harsh on people and machines, according to the space agency.

It looks like JAXA’s “transformable lunar robot” will be the second on board on ispace’s maiden voyage, as the company revealed last month that it will also send a rover from the United Arab Emirates, named Rashid, to the moon.

If its mission is successful, the UAE will join a small group of countries that have managed to land smoothly on the Moon – the United States, Russia and China.

South Korea’s very first flight to the moon

Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO), a box-shaped satellite, will be South Korea’s first moon adventure as Seoul seeks to improve its technical know-how for performing space missions, according to the New York Times .

The spacecraft, developed by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute, is expected to launch in August 2022 on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and reach lunar orbit by December. He will spend a year exploring the geology of the moon and studying the chemical composition of lunar dirt from afar.

Setting up Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO) (via Twitter)

A lunar terrain imager will be carried by the satellite, which will scan potential landing locations for a future South Korean robotic lunar lander mission.

NASA has selected nine experts to join the KPLO science team in March 2021 to help improve the scientific output of the mission. On KPLO, NASA and South Korea will also be testing a type of interplanetary internet that is expected to withstand communication failures. NASA is also assistant with mission planning, deep space communications and navigation technologies.

As the space activities of 2021 have been dominated by robotic missions to Mars and developments in space tourism, the moon is expected to stand out in 2022.

Many companies and governments, a few of which have been listed above, are all set to launch spacecraft to the moon this year. These missions will set the tone for future space goals and lead to better exploration of the Moon and pave the way for future missions and collaborations.

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