All aboard the new mission to the Moon

One small step: An artist’s impression of Orion, the spaceship NASA hopes to send to the Moon.

Do you dream of mastering a moonwalk? Humans first set foot on the Moon in 1969. Nearly 50 years later, NASA is developing technology for a new Orion space capsule that means we can go back.

What’s happening

The journey takes three days and when you land, you find no air and no gravity, just craters, rocks and dust. The Moon may not be the most exciting or hospitable place in the solar system. But after a successful landing last week, NASA’s new Orion capsule and Space Launch System could soon get us there.

Find out more

NASA gave away the equipment used for the first moonwalk to museums around the world. Since then, its scientists have been focusing on other space projects like the ISS.

Now, however, they are designing and testing a spacecraft called Orion. It is set to be launched into space and to fly around the moon next year. There will be no passengers for the first journey, but Orion will be able to carry up to six astronauts on future missions — perhaps to the Moon, or even Mars.

NASA is not the only organisation racing to space. Some private companies are developing their own technology, offering ordinary people the chance to fly to the Moon. One of them is charging £8,000, enough to buy a small car.

Is it time for humans to go to the Moon permanently?

Some say…

The Moon is like another continent to explore. Let’s find out what’s buried in those ice-filled craters and look at what could be mined from below the Moon’s surface. If we can get safely to the Moon, we could build another space station, or launch spaceships from there. We could try living there before moving on to to Mars. There are no limits!

Others think…

We should leave the Moon alone. There may be very little to mine on the Moon and anything we did would cost lots of money. It would potentially do a lot of damage. Human curiosity and ambition has already changed things on Earth — and not always for the better. It is irresponsible to try to colonise the moon — let’s take care of our own planet instead.

You Decide

  1. Would you want to go to the moon?

Activities

  1. Watch videos of the first moon landing. Imagine you were there - how does it feel to be walking on the moon, with no gravity, no sky? Is it exciting, is it scary? How would you describe it to someone when you arrived back on Earth?

Some People Say...

“What comes after the moon? I think you can guess: Mars.”

Buzz Aldrin

What do you think?

Word Watch

Gravity
The force which pulls things to the ground.
Solar system
The eight planets around our - the Earth’s - sun. One of many in the universe!
NASA
National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The American space agency.
Space Launch System
Machines designed to get vehicles into space, beyond the Earth’s atmosphere.
ISS
International Space Station.
Astronauts
People trained to work on a spacecraft.
Continent
Large body of land: Europe, Asia, Africa, North and South America, Australia, Antarctica.
Mined
Extracted from the ground. Minerals used by men, such as gold or coal.
Colonise
Settle on to live.

Subjects

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