Pierre Bousquet is an engineer, senior research specialist at Cnes in Toulouse. He talks about the Artemis project.
Why return to the moon today?
There are two answers. One was the Chinese Stinger, the Chinese who had developed a successful manned flight program for fifteen years. They hired astronauts, built an astronaut station and did not hide the purpose of landing a Chinese on the moon their own way. The US administration, which has seen this since the time of President Obama, has said that it should come back before and after.
We can see the context of the rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union at that time.
The second explanation is that the Apollo missions are certainly extraordinary, the forerunner. Thanks to the recalled models, we have learned a lot from a scientific perspective, but we do not have the confidence to build the infrastructure for long-term existence.
The deeper meaning today is to go there often, to undertake long-term missions, to explore polar regions and to find water. Thanks to this, it will be possible to accumulate experience, develop technologies, and harvest existing resources, which will allow Mars to create a manned mission by 2050. There was no such vision in the time of Apollo.
Unusual in 1969, is this journey technically “easy” in 2022?
No. It will be very difficult. However, it can be very safe. Then and now there is a world between electronics. Safety rules and the concept of thousands of hours of life in orbit will make things much safer.
The development technique of the SLS, the most powerful rocket in history …
Yes, they had minor problems during the test, even very recently, but every space project is a challenge and delays are rare.
SLS, Orion and ESM are the first devices with a very wide range, aren’t they?
In parallel with Orion and its service module vehicles, NASA and the European Agency operate at the Lunar Space Gateway, a relay station near the Moon. It can be used to make trips back and forth to the surface of the star, and also for missions to Mars. Europe produces two modules, iHab and Esprit, and in Cannes, Thales Alenia Space provides the first avionics and is responsible for the second.
After returning to the moon and the entrance, the idea of being there. How?
The ambition is to deploy a permanent base, which will be built by the robot. It may be an inflatable installation, the location of which has not yet been selected. It would be best to try to stay close to the poles, where there is no day or night, no temperate climate. Groundwater also contains ice water, which has long been used to refuel and produce oxygen and hydrogen. In addition, its corring in these polar ice caps will be of great scientific interest: it is thought to have come from the eruption of the moon by comets from the dawn of time, and we can access the entire history of the water. The Solar System.
Is there a fundamental problem in exploiting the resources to bring it back to Earth?
I have my doubts about the industrial benefit. What can be found there is not currently profitable in terms of mining.
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