The American Apollo program was the first serious proof that a person can land on an earth satellite, and in the future visit other planets. The decision to return mankind to the moon was only a matter of time and the United States announced the date of the next launch.
It can be said that the history of lunar exploration by man began in 1969 with the launch of the Apollo 11 mission (now it will not include the theory of the lunar conspiracy). Back in 1961, American President John F. Kennedy formulated a clear task - to land an astronaut on the moon. After 8 years of this feat Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin accomplished.
The first success was followed by another 6 manned flights. The program ended with the launch of Apollo 17. If we take the total number, out of all the representatives of mankind, only 12 people have visited the earth satellite, and all of them are American astronauts.
The last mission came in 1972, and since then the Americans haven't flown to the moon anymore. Naturally among skeptics, the question arose: “Why?”. After all, if they managed to perform such a complex operation, then why not solidify themselves on the satellite? After all, during this time it was possible to build a whole lunar base!
Well, the main answer is money. If you want to send a person to another space object, then you need to guarantee him a safe landing and return to Earth. The spacecraft should be as reliable as possible, and it is worth the high costs. However, NASA is still headed for the return and recently announced a date - 2028.
Return to the Moon
Earlier, representatives of the US agency vaguely called the 2030s. However, a budget signed by US President Donald Trump has now come out, in which they allocated a sum for lunar exploration.
In total, by 2020, they allocated a budget of 21 billion dollars. Of these, 363 million dollars were written for the lunar program. Interestingly, now projects to return to the moon should be moving much more actively, because NASA decided to cooperate with private space companies. However, the allocated money serves as an aid to commercial development.
First you need to take care of the delivery of cargo to the satellite, and then about the organization of a spacecraft for astronauts. Who is NASA planning to work with? Two companies immediately come to mind - SpaceX and Boeing. Both companies have developed their own space crews. And the first has already managed to perform a test flight to the ISS (everything went well), and the second is preparing to do it in the coming months. The first human test launches are scheduled for the summer of 2019.
However, a flight in 2028 will not be just a research trip. In the US, they intend to create a lunar base (the Chinese and Russians are planning to do the same). The project of a near-moon, and not a surface base - Gateway is being considered.
Researchers believe that this is an important milestone in space exploration, because the near-moon station will play the role of a space port, from which you can go to more distant flights (Mars and beyond). First, they wanted to create a point on a low orbit 100–200 km above the lunar surface, in order to be able to descend to the surface. But then they decided to focus on a high altitude (70,000 km) in order to carry out flights to deep space.
The plan states that the first parts and the module should start in 2022. In 2026, the station can be assembled, and a year later the first crew can be sent to it. If everything goes according to plan, then American astronauts will be able to land again on the moon in 2028, and a new moon station will meet them in orbit.
However, we recall that Roskosmos, back in 2007, declared its desire to disembark cosmonauts in 2025 and build a base in a few years. We do not expect the resumption of the Cold War between the countries, since a third player has appeared on the arena. Ambitious China is so fast that it can launch test flights towards the Moon at the end of 2019 or the beginning of 2020. Let's see which country sets foot on the lunar surface of the first in the new XXI century (and whether it will happen at all).