The day isn’t far when there will be an international research station will be set up on the surface of moon. There will groups of astronauts and cosmonauts coming from all over the world to conduct different kinds of science experiments, build infrastructure and also study our planet earth from the surface of the moon. Jan Woerner, who heads the European Space Agency has come up with this radical idea and named this project as the “Moon Village.”
Woerner has strategically broken down the glorious history of human space exploration successfully into four well defined periods. In Space 1.0 there is the period of the classical and ancient astronomy bunched together. The period of space race ranging from the Sputnik to the Apollo combines to form Space 2.0. The time of establishing the International Space Station marks the duration of Space 3.0. The Space 4.0 period is time which marks the entry of academic institutions, individual citizens and also private companies to explore the outer space. As a part of Space 4.0 there has been a creation of a community worldwide which supports the concept of Moon Village. Even rests of the European countries have supported Woerner’s idea, with support from all the science ministers of the member states of ESA. This led to the design and development of the first Lunar Lander by European Space Agency. But this program was unfortunately postponed after some initial research due to some financial complications. After the appointment of a German to lead the ESA could again revive the lunar mission.
The race to the moon by the private parties has also gathered momentum in recent years. There is huge prize money of about $30 million offered by the Google and XPRIZE to the private players who would be able to successfully land their spacecraft on the moon surface, after that travel a distance of 500m and also be able to transmit back to earth some high quality videos and photos of the moon. This contest ends on the year 2017 and till date no one has come close to achieving it. So far XPRIZE has confirmed that five teams are already having verified contracts for the Moon mission. A team called SpaceIL from Israel has planned to reach the moon via the SpaceX Falcon 9.There is also a American team called Moon Express whose MoonEX-1 will aim to reach the moon surface by travelling on a rocket from the Rocket Lab Electron. There is another international team named as Synergy Moon which has planned to reach the moon by taking the help of NEPTUNE 8 rocket. The final two teams are Indian Indus and Japanese HAKUTO who will launch their lunar expedition on the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).
As far as the current situation is concerned, NASA’s doesn’t have any serious plans regarding lunar missions as of yet. NASA’s main aim is to develop its newly designed Orion spacecraft to go out on a mission to Mars. President Obama along with Elon Musk have vigorously supported NASA’s space mission to reach Mars is the past. So for this there is no interest on NASA’s behalf to land on the moon except maybe some sample collection missions. If NASA diverts its focus from Mars mission to a mission to land on the moon, maybe then we might be able to generate the impetus for a full-fledged mission to moon and reach their successfully.