Moon Village

Yes, it’s been confirmed, China has partnered with Europe to build a village on the Moon. The European Space Agency (ESA) and and the China National Space Administration (CNSA) are talking about collaborating on a very ambitious project.

And, unlike the International Space Station, the ISS, they plan to open up the Moon Village to the whole world.

China was barred from going to the ISS from US concerns over China’s possible military application of its space program thanks to an act of Congress in 2011. No one from NASA may ” develop, design, plan, promulgate, implement, or execute a bilateral policy, program, order, or contract of any kind to participate, collaborate, or coordinate bilaterally in any way with China.”

Obviously with this policy, the US will not be involved in building this Moon village.

The Moon village could create a launch pad for trips further out into space, to places like Mars, eventually perhaps Saturn’s moon Titan. It could become a tourist destination and home base for lunar mining.

Pal Hvistendahl, a spokesman for the European Space Agency, the ESA, had this to say.

“The Chinese have a very ambitious moon program already in place,” Hvistendahl said. “Space has changed since the space race of the ’60s. We recognize that to explore space for peaceful purposes, we do international co-operation.”

China is late in the space game. They put humans in space 42 years after the Soviet Union. They are progressing rapidly though, and are extremely ambitious.

Just last week they launched an unmanned spacecraft to dock with their space station. They also plan to return a Moon sample by the end of the year.

The ESA is hoping to do analysis work on that sample, and put a European on the Chinese space station.

A Moon village could enable exploration of the dark side of the moon. No human has ever walked there.

The dark side of the moon isn’t really dark. The moon is tidally locked to Earth, which means we  always see the same side. So we can call it the far side of the moon. It was called the dark side because until October 7, 1959, no human had ever seen it. The Soviet Union Lunar 3 spacecraft was the first to snap a picture of it. The following year, they released an atlas, naming the far side features in, of course, Russian.

Image taken from Lunar 3 space probe

It wouldn’t be until 1968 during the Apollo 8 mission where humans would see it directly.

The far side is quite different than the near side. It’s rugged landscape is heavily scarred with impact craters, with very few lunar maria, flat spaces that look like oceans.

Nobody knows for sure why the far side looks so different than the near side. Some say the near side is shielded by the Earth. Actually very little of the moon is shielded.

Moon transiting the Earth with far side visible

Others have suggested that it’s related to an impact event 4.5 billion years ago, where it’s thought that a Mars sized body directly impacted the Earth, turning into a giant ball of hot lava, and spitting out what is now the Moon.

The far side would be the ideal place to drop a radio telescope because it’s immune to radio interference from Earth. The surface is very dusty however, but there is a spot 63, 800 Km (39, 000 mi) above the Moon’s far side surface, known as the L2 Lagrange point, would be a great place to float a radio telescope.

Of course going back to the moon isn’t as exciting as say, going to Mars, it’s certainly a lot more attainable. Going to Mars takes months. Going to the Moon is a three day trip.

They won’t need to bring everything needed to build the village either, because they plan to 3D-print structures out of materials from the Lunar regolith.

In any case it matters that we become a multi-planetary species, if for any reason to survive from an insert your extinction level event here.

Of course the concern isn’t near term impending doom, it’s in the longer term, hundreds, thousands, and even million of years into the future where we look beyond politics, religion,  and other social problems where humans are but a tiny little pale blue dot in the vast expanse of the Universe, looking to beat the cosmic odds.

Thank you for reading.

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