Big Picture Science
March 11, 2019: High Moon
“The moon or bust” is now officially bust. No private company was able to meet the Lunar X Prize challenge, and arrange for a launch by the 2018 deadline. The $30 million award goes unclaimed, but the race to the moon is still on. Find out who wants to go and why this is not your parents’ – or grandparents’ – space race.
With or without a cash incentive, private companies are still eyeing our cratered companion, hoping to set hardware down on its dusty surface. Meanwhile, while the U.S. waffles about a return to the moon, India and China are sending a second round of robots skyward. And a proposed orbiting laboratory – the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway – may literally put scientists over, and around, the moon.
The moon continues to entice sci-fi writers, and Andy Weir’s new novel describes a vibrant lunar colony. Its premise of colonists launched from Kenya is not entirely fiction: the nation is one of many in Africa with space programs.
Greg Schmidt – Deputy director of the Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute at NASA Ames Research Center
Jason Crusan – NASA Director of Advanced Exploration Systems for Human Space Flight