The Future of Moon Exploration and Settlement

2022 is going to be the year of the Moon. Space agencies from five different countries – the US, India, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the Emirates – and several private companies will send our satellite at least one mission in the coming months. Without a crew, most of them have the objective of testing technological capabilities, developing the ‘muscle’ that will allow a prolonged and sustainable lunar human settlement in the future. There, mineral resources could be exploited and, above all, the first leap could be taken to conquer Mars and, who knows, perhaps other worlds as well, according to ABC.

NASA’s ambitious Artemis program plans to return humans to the Moon in 2025, including the first woman to leave her footprint on the satellite. But before that happens, it will be necessary to carry out a series of tests. The first, called Artemis I, will launch in March from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida after several delays due to technological challenges and setbacks from the pandemic. All eyes will be on the gigantic SLS (Space Launch System) rocket, even more powerful than the Saturn 5 of the Apollo program, and the Orion capsule on board, which will fly around the Moon and whose heat shield will withstand around 2,760º C during its re-entry to Earth.

For the general public there is another attraction. In the absence of a human hero, a ‘moonikin’ (from the English ‘Luna’ and ‘mannequin’) will travel in the commander’s seat, a realistic doll that will try on the space suit that the future astronauts of the program will use during some key moments. It has been baptized as Arturo Campos, in homage to the Hispanic engineer who helped bring the crew of the crashed Apollo 13 back to Earth safely.