In an attempt to undermine the long-term cynicism that has provoked the various hoax theories about the Apollo moon landings, NASA has recently released high resolution images of a number of Apollo landing sites. These images were acquired by the LRO (Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter) spacecraft, which has recently been manoeuvred into a 25 km altitude lunar orbit. An example, the Apollo 17 landing site, is shown in the picture gallery which clearly shows the lander descent stage, the lunar rover, the experiment packages and various tracks made by the astronauts and the rover. Unfortunately, the die-hard believers in the conspiracy theories will insist that the LRO pictures are also hoaxed. However, it is great to see these images which confirm the events of 40 or so years ago. When all the conspiracy nonsense has been laid to rest, these landing sites will still be there, testimony to a major chapter in global history.
At around the same time, China has recently published a 5-year plan for its space program, including human spaceflight. As part of this, they declare a clear intention to land people on the moon, perhaps by the end of the decade. The
thumbnail image on this post gives an artist’s rendering of a potential configuration of a Chinese lunar lander spacecraft.
This comes at a bad time for the US, with the retirement of the space shuttle, the cancellation of the Constellation (human exploration) program and the dependence of US astronauts on the good will of the Russians for access to orbit. A number of the veteran Apollo moon walking astronauts have expressed disappointment with the short-sightedness of the Obama administration, which is in severe danger of handing over leadership in human space endeavour to political competitors. Can it really be that the next footfall on the lunar surface will be Chinese? What will be the American political reaction to that – something reminiscent to that of the launch of Sputnik 1 in 1957?
Wake up USA
before the situation is irretrievable!