We are living in a generation where people talk about setting up human colonies on the Moon and settling there. While it just appears a dream, many are chalking out futuristic projects for human settlement on the lunar surface.
The latest in the line is China which is in talks with the European Space Agency (ESA) on collaborating on a human village or human outpost on Earth’s natural satellite Moon.
Tian Yulong, the secretary general for China's space agency, revealed the development via Chinese state media. However, he has not revealed details on what kind of collaboration it would be.
"Moon Village" will be a potential international launching pad for future missions to Mars, ESA had said earlier describing the project. But the head of the ESA had last year elaborated on plans to build a village on the moon.
Since its first manned spaceflight in 2003, China has ramped up its space program. The 2003 launch was more than 42 years after a Soviet cosmonaut became the first to reach orbit.
This month, an unmanned spacecraft on a mission to dock with currently unoccupied space station was launched by China. China has plans to launch the first mission to the far side of the moon next year.
“The future of space travel needs a new vision,” said Jan Woerner.
The concept is a base for lunar exploration by human beings as well as robots. It would act as a stopover for spacecraft, and become a 'village' with mining and even tourism.
“The future of space travel needs a new vision.Right now we have the Space Station as a common international project, but it won't last forever,” said Woerner.
“If I say Moon Village, it does not mean single houses, a church, a town hall and so on. No, that would be misleading.“
“My idea only deals with the core of the concept of a village: people working and living together in the same place. And this place would be on the Moon.”
“In the Moon Village we would like to combine the capabilities of different spacefaring nations, with the help of robots and astronauts. The participants can work in different fields, perhaps they will conduct pure science and perhaps there will even be business ventures like mining or tourism.”
According to Woerner, the Moon Village could even help humans get to Mars.
“The Moon Village would also act as a 'pit stop' for the further exploration of the Universe,” he said. “Esa is eager to fly to Mars as well.“
“For more than a decade, we have had a very successful spacecraft orbiting there. And now, with ExoMars, two unmanned missions are aiming at martian orbit and the surface. Yes, the Americans want to send astronauts to Mars one day, but today's technology isn't prepared for this trip yet."
“For example, we must develop countermeasures against the cosmic radiation that endangers the health of humans on long space trips. And we have to learn how to endure longer periods of time in space, not only in low orbit as on the Space Station.”
“This is where our Moon comes into play – it is the perfect stepping stone to Mars.”