Real space exploration by humans just took another step forward with the discovery of water on the moon. Not only would this allow a proper outstation to be established on the Earth’s only satellite, it could also provide the fuel needed once split into its component parts of hydrogen and oxygen. Water has always been the problem for space travellers. It takes a huge amount of energy and costs tens of thousands of dollars just to take a few litres of the precious stuff into space.The water was found as a result of the ‘collision’ experiment conducted on the 09th October when a probe was shot into a moon crater followed 4 minutes later by a probe collecting data from a close pass through the debris thrown up.
At first the experiment seemed disappointing as little if no dust appeared to have been disturbed. But after analysis it was discovered that several gallons of water in the form of ice had been ejected from the impact zone.
This has been met with huge excitement amongst the rocket scientists. But the chances that this will be quickly followed up with a real attempt to colonise the moon are extremely remote due to the extremely bad economic climate and the fact that there is no USSR to compete with.
In the past there had been tenuous evidence of water on the moon, but the probe’s spectrometer has provided the definitive proof.
This may allow a permanent base on the moon and even let us make more effective trips to our neighbouring planets in the Solar System. But the nearest star to our sun is the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri, which is 4.2 light years from us. That means it would take 4.2 years to get there if the travellers went at the speed of light. To accelerate to the speed of light without crushing a human body would also take many many decades, of it were possible.
Setting up a stepping stone on the moon may sound attractive to some, but there is a vast chasm to cross after that.