While humanity has been a tourist on the Moon, we’ve never been a resident. That could all change as the Russian space agency Roscosmos is looking to establish a permanent base on the Moon.
The agency calls the move the “next step” for it and humanity’s exploration of the universe.
Vladimir Popovkin, the Roscosmos head, told the Global Exploration Conference in Washington May 22 that the next big international exploration effort should build on the past 40-plus years of lunar exploration, and not repeat the sortie missions of the Apollo era.
“It’s a new Moon,” Popovkin said of his agency’s concept during a panel appearance with other space agency chiefs. A long-term permanent base could take advantage of the water-ice at the lunar poles, continue exploring the lunar surface, and prepare for the next leap into the Solar System, he says.
Similarly, JAXA, the Japanese Space Agency, issued a clear pronouncement about targeting the Moon. “We are looking at the Moon as our next target for human exploration,” said Yuichi Yamaura, an associate executive director at JAXA.
China was another conspicuously absent member of the aerospace club as represented on stage. Those present were asked whether they should be doing more to collaborate with China. “We’re all for it,” says Popovkin. “We have to talk to China.” Steve MacLean, the president of the Canadian Space Agency, described how impressed he was by China’s space operations after a recent visit. He says it would be “prudent” to explore more collaboration.