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Four Powers and Other Spacefarers Feed Moon Fever

Aug. 26, 2019 (EIRNS)—As International Observe the Moon Night (Oct. 5) approaches, the spacefaring powers are concentrating on Moon missions which can lead to Mars.

The U.S. space agency NASA is adding space propulsion speed and power by expanding a program to develop nuclear power for space. On Aug. 20 President Donald Trump issued “Presidential Memorandum on Launch of Spacecraft Containing Space Nuclear Power Systems.” Its “Sec. 2. Policy,” says,

“The United States shall develop and use space nuclear systems when such systems safely enable or enhance space exploration or operational capabilities. The Secretary of Energy shall maintain, on a full cost recovery basis, the capability and infrastructure to develop, furnish, and conduct safety analyses for space nuclear systems for use in United States Government space systems. Executive departments and agencies (agencies) shall seek to ensure that safe application of space nuclear systems is a viable option for Federal Government and commercial space activities.”

This program has been authorized $125 million for Fiscal 2020, more than NASA requested for it. During the Aug. 22 Space Council session, Administrator James Bridenstine stressed not only cutting the time of travel to Mars in half with nuclear propulsion, but also defending Earth from asteroids with nuclear-powered “directed-energy weapons.”

India’s Chandrayaan-2 is now two weeks from a first-ever landing on the lunar South Pole, and has sent back its first picture of the Moon from about 1,600 miles. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) reported:

“Chandrayaan-2 is scheduled to enter its final circular orbit around the Moon on Sept. 1, 2019. This orbit will pass over the lunar poles, one of which will be the landing site for Vikram—Chandrayaan-2’s lander that aims to soft-land on the Moon’s South Pole. The orbiter will orbit at 62 miles (100 km) distance from the Moon’s surface for a period of one year, making a pass over both of the Moon’s poles with each revolution.”

ISRO’s budget has doubled in the past five years to $1.45 billion, according to a long article in U.A.E. daily, The National. India’s space program is at the stage, familiar with the U.S. Apollo program and its predecessors, that it is beginning to create industrial spinoffs and great secondary employment.

“We’re expecting about 150,000 high-skilled jobs to come up in the space industry over the next five years, including jobs for engineers, scientists, and data analysts,” the daily quotes Chaitanya Giri, at Mumbai think-tank Gateway House.

Japan is developing a heavy-lift rocket to be able to take cargo to the new space station(s) orbiting the Moon, whether the American Gateway station or a Chinese one.

Roscosmos, for its part, announced that the Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft with a robot onboard will make a second attempt to dock to the International Space Station on the morning of Aug. 27.

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