“Cosmonautics just sat up in low Earth orbit”, - Dmitry Oliferovich

Dmitry Oliferovich– science journalist, popularizer of cosmonautics, member of the youth section of the Federation

Russian cosmonautics, creator of the Blackfieldspace public.

Where there is development

“Why didn’t anything happen for almost 50 years after Apollo, but now everyone wants to go to the Moon again?”

— The Apollo program had a clear politicalthe goal is to be the first to deliver an American to the surface of the Moon and return him to Earth. This goal was announced back in 1961 by President John Kennedy. And, in fact, he set a deadline - until the end of the 60s, before the decade is out - until the decade ends. And NASA was simply scrambling to meet these deadlines. We had problems with the N-1 missile, but they managed to do it. We've had rocket launch accidents. We eventually redirected manned space flights to orbital stations - first Salyut, then Mir station. And now the grandson or granddaughter of the Salyut station is the ISS. And the Gateway cislunar station (Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, LOP-G, formerly called Deep Space Gateway - “High-Tech”) will also be a direct descendant of the first orbital stations.

And the Americans fulfilled this goal. They used up the remaining hardware and landed on the moon six times. After this, the Apollo program became meaningless and Congress stopped allocating funds for it.

- Then it was, after all, an ideological confrontation, and at some point it stopped. Now the lunar programs are back because a new cold war is starting in the world?

— I see several reasons why everything suddenlybecame interested in the Moon. First, at some point NASA realized there was a spacecraft. It was developed for George W. Bush's Constellation program, which was approved in 2004, and then Obama canceled it. And the ship was out of service. And they had progressed quite far in the development of the ship: drop tests of parachute systems were carried out, a launch vehicle was being developed - albeit a different one, Ares V. There was already a system, but there was no goal.

ISS will exhaust its resource by the end of the 2020s, physically it is simply old, it has been flying since 1998, the oldest modules. And astronautics sat up in low Earth orbit. There is simply no development.

Sidebar

- But it took 48 years to figure it out?

- Yes, no matter how funny and sad it is at the same time.It sounds so. Because after the Apollo program, back in 1972, the Americans flew to the moon, they approved the Space Shuttle and got stuck in it. This program was originally conceived for the delivery and maintenance of military satellites in conjunction with the US Department of Defense. But it turned out that the military didn’t need a space shuttle, then there was a Challenger disaster, and the programs of its orbiting stations in the 1980s did not exist. There was one of its own Skylab orbital station, in fact, on the remnants of the Apollo. They worked on it - that's all.

Skylab- from EnglishSkylab, sky laboratory, “sky laboratory” is the first and only US national orbital station designed for technological, astrophysical, medical and biological research, as well as for Earth observation. Launched in 1973, hosted three Apollo missions from May 1973 to February 1974, de-orbited and collapsed on July 11, 1979.

Who does not let China to the moon

- Gateway is currently building quite a few countries -The United States, the European Space Agency, Canada is doing something, Roscosmos may do. Is this an international project where everyone collaborates, or is there again an ideological standoff, if we talk about China?

— The rhetoric is such that this is not a confrontation, but,on the contrary, cooperation. Because, despite certain disagreements between countries, we are ready to create a common manned project together, since productive cooperation on the ISS now continues. Because we simply cannot live without them, they cannot live without us. The ISS must be operated by all participating countries in order for all systems to work.

“But they don’t take China there.”

“They won’t take him because the American government does not allow China access to rocket and space technologies. This is a confrontation between America and China.

- So the next stage of the cosmos is the confrontation between America and China? And will everyone else join one of them?

- It's not all simple, because recently Chinaannounced the creation of its usual orbital station, which will be in low earth orbit. And at the UN level, they announced that the new orbital station is open for experiments by participants from other countries, other countries can send their scientific instruments there, they can train their astronauts together with the taikonaut, international crews will be formed. China declared such rhetoric.

Sidebar

It is impossible to say exactly what it will be forconfrontation. This rivalry may be hidden. Indeed, the Americans do not want China to be the first to reach the moon again. But China is unlikely to be the first to reach the moon, because the date declared by the Chinese themselves is likely to be sent to the moon by the Taikonaut after 2030. The first crews to the station Gateway should fly in the years 2023-2024.

- In the crew will be four people?

— Four people will go to the moon.

- And how will they be formed - two are chosen by the USA, one by ESA?

- First test flight of the Orion spacecraft fromThe crew - EM2, Exploration Mission 2 - will probably be purely American, because their equipment is there. Although, strictly speaking, the European Agency built the service module, they have the right to send their own astronaut. But there have been no publications on this yet, so I will be careful. Maybe one European representative will fly. It may well be. To monitor service module systems, for monitoring.

- Russia announced the construction of a base on the surface of the moon. At the moment - is it more words? Can this be seriously discussed already?

- We can’t talk about this seriously yet,because there are no specific terms of reference for the creation of elements. That is, we are currently creating the Federation lunar spacecraft, lunar in the sense that it can fly both to the ISS, with an upper stage, and to the Moon.

Here are the plans: the international community wants to send a manned expedition to Mars. These are plans, to which even hoo, as they say, but these are plans, which are likely to be implemented, because there is a great interest of the international community, this topic is being discussed, and we, journalists, including it are promoting. But so far, for example, for example, there is no module layout for the crew, for the migratory ship, the creation in iron of specific elements of the propulsion system for their testing. But for Gateway it already is. For it, for example, poster models of Hall motors are being worked out and built. That is, Gateway is beginning to slowly move from slideware to hardware - from slides to hardware. And flights to Mars and the base on the surface are still slides.

- About the possible contribution of Roskosmos to the Gateway. How serious is this part of building a station?

— This will be an important contribution, because any contributionin the creation of any element of the station is critically necessary; without it, the station cannot exist. It will be created very economically. Perhaps our contribution will be an airlock module in which special spacesuits for going into outer space will be stored. That's what it was called earlier, now it's called a multi-purpose module. In deep space they are especially protected, they are different from those in which they leave the ISS. This is a very important element. Not so long ago there was a statement by the head of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, that Russia is even ready to provide cargo transportation and create transport systems based on Progress. That is, such news is flashing, but what exactly should we expect now? We must wait until the meeting of the contact group of representatives of space agencies on the Lunar Gateway takes place, where we can confirm our participation. Because we only have a memorandum of understanding on the creation of the Gateway station, signed in 2017 by Roscosmos and NASA at the 68th International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide (Australia) and, accordingly, by NASA management. It exists - this means that we conditionally agreed with you, we are looking in the same direction and signed an informal paper - let's do it. When they sit down and sign, they begin to distribute the terms of reference for the creation of a gateway or other modules, then we will already have real development of the project, that is, our contribution. For now we are just waiting for news, but I think there is a chance that we will participate, because this is a very real contribution for us to manned flights into deep space. And we were invited because we have the necessary expertise - enormous experience in creating airlock systems. A gateway is a small module through which you go into outer space. They have a lot of their own unique solutions, and we have more experience here than the Americans, since we have many years of experience in creating and operating orbital stations.