Updated 24 May, 2013, 7:53 pm IST
Wednesday April 27 06:21 pm
WHY NASA NEVER RETURNED TO THE MOON? PART 2 (APRIL 2011)
The most recently launched lunar orbiter is China's Chang'e 2, which was launched in early October 2010. China is also planning to land motorized rovers and collect samples in the Chang'e 3 and Chang'e 4 missions and return lunar soil samples by 2018. Russia's Luna-Glob 1 expected to be launched in 2012. In 2007 the head of the Russian Space Agency announced plans to send cosmonauts to the Moon by 2025 and establish a permanent manned base there in 2027-2032. ISRO, the Indian National Space agency, is planning a second version of Chandrayaan named Chandrayaan 2. According to former ISRO Chairman G. Madhavan Nair, "The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) hopes to land two motorised rovers - one Indian and another Russian - on the Moon in 2013, as a part of its second Chandrayaan mission. The rover will be designed to move on wheels on the lunar surface, pick up samples of soil or rocks, do on-site chemical analysis and send the data to the mother-spacecraft Chandrayaan II, which will be orbiting above. Chandrayaan II will transmit the data to Earth." The payloads have already been finalized. ISRO has mentioned that due to weight restrictions it will not be carrying any overseas payloads on this mission. The lander weight is projected to be 1,250 kg, and the spacecraft will be launched by the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle. The Google Lunar X Prize competition offers a $20 million award for the first privately funded team to land a robotic probe on the Moon. Like the Ansari X Prize before it, the competition aims to advance the state of the art in private space exploration. Some people have insisted that the Apollo Moon landings were a hoax. These accusations flourish in part because predictions by enthusiasts that Moon landings would become commonplace have not yet come to pass. Some claims can be empirically discredited by three retroreflector arrays left on the Moon by Apollo 11, 14 and 15. With new technology, it is possible for anyone on Earth with an appropriate laser and telescope system to bounce laser beams off these devices, verifying deployment of the Lunar Laser Ranging Experiment at historically documented Apollo Moon landing sites. This evidence indicates the deployment of equipment which was constructed on Earth and successfully transported to the surface of the Moon. In addition, NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, in August 2009, began to send back high resolution photos showing the Apollo landing sites. A total of twelve people have landed on the Moon. This was accomplished with two US pilot-astronauts flying a Lunar Module on each of six NASA missions across a 41-month time span starting on 21 July 1969 UTC, with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on Apollo 11 (with Armstrong being first to set foot on the surface), and ending on 14 December 1972 UTC with Gene Cernan and Jack Schmitt on Apollo 17 (with Cernan being the last to step off the lunar surface). All Apollo lunar missions had a third crew member who remained onboard the Command Module. The last three missions had a rover for increased mobility.