Assuming you believe that the United States actually put men and machines on the moon before (yes, there are still plenty of naysaying conspiracy theorists who think it was a grand hoax), then this is a case of going back to the moon. If not, then it could be the first time. Exciting! From the Telegraph:
America is preparing to land a robot on the moon for the first time in four decades.
Nasa is looking for private partners to participate in the project that will see a new generation of rovers wandering across the moon’s surface.
The American space agency has set up a programme called Catalyst to exploit commercial opportunities offered by the moon.
It believes that eventually there will be a market for commercial cargo trips to the lunar surface.
“As Nasa pursues an ambitious plan for humans to explore an asteroid and Mars, US industry will create opportunities for Nasa to advance new technologies on the moon,” said Greg Williams, Nasa’s deputy associate administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate.
But America is not alone.
Last month China sent its Jade Rabbit rover to the moon, making it the first country to make a soft lunar landing since 1976, when the Soviet Union sent the Luna 24 mission to collect rock samples.
Other countries including Japan and India are also looking to become major players in lunar exploration.
“It’s starting to get a little crowded out there,” said Jonathan McDowell, an academic at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
“After the Apollo programme we did amazing things with robots in space.
“We went to every planet in the solar system and we rather forgot the moon, we rather felt we had been there and done that.
“In terms of human flight we retreated to earth orbit, we worked on the space shuttle and then the space station.”…
[continues at the Telegraph]