The 12-wheeled car is kicking the haze dust-gray dust as it does tracks through a wavy terrain. "Space truck" has a cabin under pressure, which allows two astronauts inside to breathe without their spaceships.
They were tired after a day spent exploring the deposition of water ice a few kilometers from its base.
This is the Moon in 2050.
When a rover rides on the sides of a large crater, astronauts capture the glow of mirrors mounted on its rim. Mirrors emit sunlight into the crater, turning on the operation of extracting water from the ice inside. On the left, the truck runs a landing pad – flattened by a microwave ceiling of the lunar soil – where the car is sitting, waiting for an explosion to orbit.
The car rises with domes of the base, here on the south pole of the moon. Astronauts enter the residence through the gateway and remove their dusty spacesuits. Inside, a greenhouse that grows cabbage and potatoes emits an unearthly glow under the LED lanterns. The crew members climb the stairs to the upper level, where the commander of the base awaits them for consideration.
Scripts like this are fantasy. But this is one of the possible ways of life and work of people on the moon.
If we want to create a long-term base, we will have to take what we need from lunar resources.
In her lab at the Open University in Milton Keynes, UK, Ph.D. Hannah Sargent is working to do just that, using a mineral called Ilmenite, which is much on the Moon.
The internal furnace is heated by an ilmenite to remove oxygen that is connected to water for water.
"There are 20 additional ways to get water from the rocks on the moon. Ilmenit was of interest, because it is quite common there and the reaction that is required requires relatively little energy, "she explains.
And she says she's excited about the prospect of returning people to the lunar surface for the first time since 1972.
– I feel that my generation will certainly see it. I'm confident that this will happen in my life, that we will have – at least – permanent housing in orbit around the Moon, and then you will have a continuation back and forth on the surface. "
In 2017, Donald Trump signed a directive on space policy to return American astronauts to the Moon and to "other destinations." NASA said it would strive to do so by 2028. But recently the administration sent a space agency to 2024, citing China's lunar ambitions. However, it is not left unnoticed that the date will coincide with the end of the second term of Trump, if he is re-elected.
This time, NASA wants to do something different. The moon is part of a greater ambition to explore deep space, including Mars, so part of the plan is to create a lunar outpost.
"We will not return to the Moon to leave flags and tracks, and then not return for another 50 years," said NASA Administrator Jim Bridgestin earlier this year. "We are going to stay steady – to stay – with landings and robots and rovers and people."
But is it possible for Nasa to safely set a mission of returning to the deadline, given that critical hardware is either not built or not tested?
"It will be risky," says John Logdsdon, Honorary Professor of Political Science and International Relations at the George Washington University in the District of Columbia. But he adds: "If we do not want to take a certain level of risk, then we must stay on the ground. The issue of balancing risks with activities?.