Nearly forty-eight years ago, two Americans touched down on the Moon and walked upon its surface. Now, NASA’s trying to do it again with Constellation, an ambitious project to return humans to the moon by 2020.
But if NASA could do it in the eight years between President John F. Kennedy’s 1961 speech that led to the historic first lunar landing of Apollo 11 on July 20, 1969, some wonder why it is so difficult to go back.
According to NASA Astronaut Don Pettit, we can’t go back to the Moon because the technology is destroyed. “I’d go to the Moon in a nanosecond. The problem is we don’t have the technology to do that anymore.
We used to, but we destroyed that technology and it’s a painful process to build it back again. But going to Mars should be one of the next series of steps that humans do.
The first step should be going back to the Moon for a number of technical reasons and exploration reasons. And then after that Mars, maybe high orbit in Venus atmosphere, or maybe going to Europa. There’s all kinds of targets to go to, places of interest in our solar system.
The only limit to human future is in our own imaginations.” According to space.com, NASA’s current rockets and space shuttles aren’t capable of surpassing low-Earth orbit to reach the moon with the amount of gear required for a manned expedition.
“The amount of rocket energy it takes to accelerate those kinds of payloads away from Earth doesn’t exist anymore,” said Jeff Hanley, NASA’s Constellation program manager. “It exited in the Apollo era with the Saturn V. Since that time this nation has retired that capability.”