CU professor discusses possibility of moon base
CU students now have something to work toward- the moon.
Images of astronauts descending onto the surface of the moon splashed the screen of the Fiske Planetarium Friday evening as Dr. Jack Burns presented “Back to the Moon and Back to the Future.”
The presentation highlighted the new possibilities of returning to the moon and possibly setting up a permanent base on the surface.
Burns, CU professor and member of the advisory council for the NASA administration, said the prospects of returning to the moon were vast.
“It’s exciting that after nearly four decades we are going back,” Burns said.
Burns said with past Apollo missions to the moon the nation’s ambitions were largely political, but the new missions would provide a wealth of scientific knowledge and research. Once the missions were deemed a success they were abandoned altogether. The last trip to the moon was in 1972, Burns said.
“This time the plan is to go back to the moon to stay,” Burns said.
Returning to the moon with enough resources to build a lunar base has been made possible thanks to new rockets and technology. The new Ares rockets, made to eventually replace the current shuttles that NASA uses, use technology derived from both the Apollo missions and the shuttles currently being used.
Ares V, a payload rocket, would first be launched into orbit. Though the rocket would be devoid of crew, it would carry the vehicle that would be used on the mission into orbit. From there, the crew aboard Ares I would rendezvous with the vehicle and make their way to the lunar surface. The lunar lander the crew would use is about four times the size of the original Apollo landers, Burns said.
Located on the lunar base would be various types of telescopes, which Burns said would have the ability to look into the “dark ages” of the universe, a time where the first galaxies and structures began forming. Burns said that for many, this was considered “the final frontier of cosmology.”
In addition to this valuable information, Burns said a lunar base would be the stepping stone for missions to Mars and exploring nearby asteroids.
Burns said that due to recent issues with heat shields on the shuttles that NASA has been using, the rockets have been designed with the safety of the astronauts on board in mind.
“Safety is first and foremost in NASA’s mind,” Burns said.
Burns said it would take around six flights to establish a modest permanent presence, and that the construction of the lunar base would have to be the result of an international effort.
“In today’s world the magnitude of these operations and international interest.we’d have to do this internationally,” Burns speculated.
Originally proposed by President George W. Bush, Burns said the future of the project lay in the hands of the next president. If the future president deems the project too expensive or unnecessary, they could delay or even cancel it, Burns said.
Burns’ presentation left a good impression with many of the people attending the event.
“It shows a lot of vision for the future,” said Cait McHugh, a senior sociology major.
Bill Rodgers brought his children to the event because he said his son was fascinated with astronomy.
“It was very informative,” Rodgers said. “Obviously the professor knows his subject very well.” CQ
The project will take a long time to complete, however, and Burns said it could be up to two decades before a self sufficient base was established.
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Stephen Oskay at Stephen.firstname.lastname@example.org.