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Colonization of Moon: Scientists tell how in 50 years satellite will be inhabited

Colonization of Moon: Scientists tell how in 50 years satellite will be inhabited How the colonization of the Moon might take place ( photo: Freepik)

Scientists say that by 2075 there will be at least one permanently inhabited station on the moon. Some even suggest that in 50 years, children will be born on Earth's satellite, writes IFLScience.

Will people be able to inhabit the moon in the next 50 years?

Italian space policy consultant Giuseppe Reibaldi says that settlements on the moon make a lot more sense now than they did when the first man landed on the moon.

"In the 1960s, going to the Moon was a political goal,” Reibaldi told IFLScience. “It was a prize in the competition between the United States and the Soviet Union. But when the Americans got there, they got the impression that the Moon was totally inhospitable and didn’t have too many prospects. So, it was left alone," said Reibaldi.

Between 1969 and 1972, six manned missions landed on the moon. Astronauts collected more than 380 kilograms of lunar rocks and soil. Examination of these samples showed that the Moon could theoretically be habitable.

In 2012, India's Chandrayaan-1 probe found evidence of water ice in the permanently shadowed regions of huge craters covering the moon's polar regions. If there really is ice in the craters, then people would not have to bring water from Earth. Therefore, after this discovery, the issue of satellite settlement became relevant again.

"Water is called the gold of space. If you have water, you can make oxygen from it, you can use it for the crew or to grow plants. You can even make propellant from it," Reibaldi added.

How the satellite will be colonized

In the 1960s and 1970s, the USA and the USSR landed 8 robotic probes on the Moon. In 2013, China sent the Yutus lunar rover there. In 2023, for the first time in history, India placed the Vikram lander and the Pragyan lunar rover near the South Pole of the Moon - an area where there may be water resources. Japan also landed its spacecraft on the moon.

In addition, with the support of NASA, in the next two years, the launch of vehicles carrying all kinds of experimental technologies necessary for human habitation on the moon is being prepared.

According to Reibaldi, by 2075 there could already be a thriving ecosystem on the moon consisting of several bases in different locations. Local resource shops will provide the astronauts with water and building materials, as well as titanium and aluminum to make spacecraft parts.

Scientists also assume that in 50 years it will be possible to launch devices from the moon to Mars with products grown on the satellite.

"I do believe that within the 2075 timeframe, there will be a baby born on the Moon. And that will demonstrate whether humankind can survive independently of Earth," said Reibaldi.

What NASA is planning

Professor Ian Crawford, a planetary scientist and astrobiologist from Birkbeck College London, suggests that by 2075 there will be a permanently inhabited station on the moon. It will be similar to those currently in the Antarctic. Perhaps there will even be a small lunar hotel for wealthy space tourists from companies such as Amazon, SpaceX, or Virgin Galactic.

"I think there will be a permanently crewed station on the Moon by 2075 with crews working in shifts perhaps every six months like they do on the International Space Station now. I do think there will probably be a permanent human presence, supporting a diverse range of scientific activities, supported somewhat by locally sourced lunar materials – like water and oxygen," Crawford said.

NASA advocates returning people to the moon. The Artemis-2 mission is scheduled to make a manned flyby of the Moon in 2024, and Artemis-3 will land next year.

However, Crawford says that the implementation of this plan requires an Apollo-era lunar module. But such a vehicle does not exist yet.

"NASA contracted SpaceX to develop this landing module, based on the Starship, but the Starship hasn’t even successfully launched from the Earth yet. So, I am personally skeptical that it can be done by 2025. It can probably be achieved by the end of this decade," Crawford added.

In 2025, NASA also intends to launch the first building block of the future lunar orbiting space station, which will serve as a base for new Artemis missions to explore the lunar surface. By the end of the 2030s, it is possible to carry out ten crewed Artemis missions.

In 2020, NASA presented an early concept of the Artemis Base Camp in the South Pole region of the Moon. It provides that the base camp can support crews of up to four astronauts - for visits that will last at first a week or two, and later - for up to two months.

"Fifty years might seem like a long time, but in the field of space exploration, it's probably not that long. Developing missions, testing technology, it all takes a long time. But I think that in 50 years there should be at least some sort of a basic lunar base. There will hopefully be scientists studying on the Moon, doing experiments, and some sort of regular transportation between Earth and the Moon as well," said Xiaochen Zhang, a planetary scientist and PhD student in lunar resource utilization at the European Space Resources Innovation Center (ESRIC) in Luxembourg.

She is developing a machine that will one day be able to process lunar dust right on a satellite and turn it into a suitable building material for use in 3D printing.

At the Astronomy from the Moon conference, astronomers presented many conceptual objects that could one day be located on the Moon.