With Artemis missions including robotic surface exploration missions, crewed lunar missions carrying the first woman and first person of color, and a base camp to establish the first long-term human lunar presence – NASA, together with commercial and international partners, is returning to the Moon in a big way.
Around the world, government agencies and companies are also making their own plans. More than 20 missions are planned to the Moon between 2022 and 2026, with participants including NASA, international agencies, and industry. Half of these missions are headed to the Moon’s South Pole, and many are targeting the same handful of craters and other features of interest. Many of these missions are going to operate in proximity to each other on the surface of a celestial body for the first time in history. This will raise challenges humanity has never faced.
NASA recently published the report “Lunar Landing and Operations Policy Analysis” which examines some of the policy challenges that having numerous missions at the Moon will create.
Challenges that the report addresses include: What if another organization wants to land or operate right next to a NASA rover? What if that organization’s landings eject dangerous rocks and dust that could damage others’ assets on the Moon or in cislunar space? What if some agencies operations on the Moon endanger those of other agencies? Do some locations deserve special protections because of their unique scientific or historic value?
The NASA report provides options for responding to those and other questions.
Source: NASA press release