Purdue Engineering announces initiative to develop earth-moon economy

Fifty years to the day that Apollo 11 crossed into the moon's gravitational sphere, Purdue Engineering announced an initiative aimed at establishing a human and economic presence on the moon.

Posted: Jul 18, 2019 1:04 PM
Updated: Jul 19, 2019 6:27 AM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Fifty years to the day that Apollo 11 crossed into the moon's gravitational sphere, Purdue Engineering announced an initiative aimed at establishing a human and economic presence on the moon.

The Cislunar Initiative aims to expand access to the cislunar space, or the area encompassing the Earth and the moon. Purdue likened this expansion of infrastructure to how the interstate highway system spurred economic growth in the U.S.

Purdue Engineering said this initiative will supply the building blocks for space infrastructure by identifying and using space resources, advancing the development of space policy and providing critical educational opportunities.

Purdue engineers know however that creating human habitats on the moon is no easy feat. As a lunar economy grows in the future, humans will need to be protected from extreme temperatures, radiation and space debris. All of which could be extremely harmful to humans and technology.

That's why Purdue outlined five near-term objectives with the Cislunar Initiative. 

1. An incubator program that will spur development of collaborative research centers, small satellite science and technology missions and new cislunar infrastructure technologies.

2. A consortium on cislunar space development for entrepreneurs, private industry and government agencies that will host industry workshops and short courses related to cislunar development and space technologies.

3. CislunarHub, a platform providing the global space community with simulation tools and online resources for space system design, analysis and modeling.

4. A space policy fellows program that will bring together the nation’s leaders in space policy development for seminars, short courses and summer fellowships.

5. A cislunar education program featuring K-12 education on space exploration, as well as an online certificate program for students and professionals through Purdue University Online.

“It’s time to expand our space infrastructure beyond Earth’s orbit to include the moon,” said David Spencer, co-chair of the Cislunar Initiative and an associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics at Purdue. “Moving forward, we will need access to space resources in order to achieve our exploration objectives. The Cislunar Initiative is geared toward conceiving and enabling the systems needed to support long-term human and robotic operations in the cislunar environment.”

The Trump Administration has announced intentions to return astronauts to the moon by 2024 and eventually have sustained human presence by 2028. NASA's Artemis program aims to work with U.S. companies and international partners to put humans on the moon's south pole. 

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