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Moon Landing 50th: How to get back to the moon and beyond

NASA wants to return to the moon by 2024, but Purdue researchers say there are obstacles to overcome.

Posted: Jul 19, 2019 8:24 PM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) —The celebration of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing has many looking forward to what the next 50 years will look like.

The Trump Administration wants to put people back on the moon in five years through the Artemis program. Although NASA wants that as well, Purdue researchers say there are obstacles to overcome.

David Spencer is behind the goal to return to the moon by 2024. He's studied "the new space race" as an associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics at Purdue University. He says 50 years from now if all goes well, we will be celebrating astronauts that have explored the surface of Mars.

"The goal is not just to get humans to the surface of the moon," said Spencer. The goal is to develop that permanent presence. That requires infrastructure. That requires communication systems. It requires robotic service vehicles."

That's what Purdue's new Cislunar Initiative, announced Thursday, will research. The school dubbed the "cradle of astronauts" isn't just looking back to the first moon landing, it's also looking forward to the next one.

You would think 50 years from the first time humans stepped foot on the moon, it would be easier. But in 2019, Spencer says there are more setbacks.

"With the current program, NASA's budget is at half of 1-percent of the Gross Domestic Product," Spencer said. "Back in the Apollo era, it was 4-percent."

That's why Spencer believes NASA can't do it alone.

"Getting humans to the moon is the goal," said Spencer. "I think we should utilize international partnerships for that. The 'do it alone thing' is a last century type thing."

A man with an important role in doing it the first time agrees.

"I think going back to the moon is going to be an international effort," said Apollo 11 Flight Director Gene Kranz during his visit to Purdue Thursday. "I think that the Artemis is a darn good idea. And I'd love to see us wrap arms around the freedom-loving countries of the world."

Kranz says the success will lie in what they had back in 1969. Teamwork.

"Yes, I think they can build the hardware. I think the greatest challenge will be to build the team."

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