On July 16 of this year that ended half a century of the arrival of man to Moon. Much has been said since then. Of that and what has come next. The conquest and discovery of outer space is still today a scenario in which the main world powers compete with each other. Although there are alliances too.
“This is a small step for man, but a great step for mankind.” Of the most important historical events, the landing on the Moon, in 1969, is undoubtedly one of the most controversial. Critics, who are a considerable number to consider, doubt the authenticity of the moment, and consider it a propaganda assembly of the United States, in the middle of the space race with the Soviet Union. The Moon has not stepped on since. But this fact may change shortly. We tell you why and what we expect from space in 2020.
The Moon, scene of the new space race
Half a century has passed since the voyage of Apollo 11 by Neil Armstrong. The Moon, the closest star to Earth, was the ideal starting point to begin to know a place as unknown as the Universe is for human beings. Mainly, because of its proximity to our planet.
How many galaxies exist? Is there life beyond our planet? How does matter work? Many of these questions do not yet have a clear answer.
However, what is clear is that La Luna is once again the stage chosen to resume the space race.
The European Space Agency (ESA) has increased the budget for space missions for the next five years. The figure is about 14.4 billion euros. The first action is the construction of a new space terminal, according to the promoters, scheduled for 2022 and to operate in 2024.
Gateway, a new space terminal
It is not just Europe. For the construction of this new space terminal Gateway, several members have joined. Namely, the US Space Agency (NASA), Roscosmos (the Russian space agency), the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), in addition to the aforementioned European Space Agency. The reason for this alliance is to replace the old space terminal with a newer one and from which to access the Moon and Mars.
The current International Space Station dates from 1998, and for the new challenges, it seems to have become a bit outdated. Now, scheduled for 2022, the agencies involved intend to build a station that serves as a base camp for La Luna, from which to descend and explore more quickly. According to La Vanguardia, the idea is that it serves as a fuel and spare parts warehouse, as an operations center and as a scientific observatory.
China also studies the Moon and looks to Mars
In the context of the economic struggle between the United States and China, the Asian giant does not stay “arms folded” in the exploration of space, as expected. The Chinese government currently allocates a quarter of the budget invested by its American rival, but the progress made and the announcements of its next steps, also place it as aerospace power.
This is how in January, China came to the hidden side of the Moon. He did it through the Chang’e 4 probe, which aims to analyze its composition and discover how it could be formed. In August, the probe captured images that caught international attention. It was an unknown substance, which they are still investigating, but which is undoubtedly one of the milestones of the year in this area.
A few days ago, China continued its exploration by sending a new special probe, Chang’e 5. In what looks like a new space race, Mars also poses a challenge. Chang’e 5 is the new trick with which the Asian giant intends to overtake the other powers. According to sources from the Chinese agency, the idea is to bring robots to Mars in 2020 to investigate.
Cheops, the European ship that will explore planets beyond the Solar System
However, if we want to know well what we expect from space in 2020, there is news beyond La Luna. This is the case of Cheops, a European ship whose mission is to know the existence of planets beyond the Solar System.
Just a few days ago, on December 18, the Soyuz rocket took off, in charge of putting this telescope into orbit. After a failed attempt to take off, the scientists said it had succeeded. They hope it may be working in about six months.
The telescope, in which Spain has coordinated manufacturing, will explore the stars where we already know that there are exoplanets. With the help of other terrestrial telescopes, they will determine their composition: if they are rocky, like Earth, or gaseous, like the largest planets in the Solar System. Also if they have liquid water, and therefore, there could be life.
These are just some of the next missions. But the truth is that the curiosity generated by this issue, of which we know so little and in which there are still so many questions to solve, accelerate a search and research that promises great adventures and discoveries.