BACK TO THE MOON | SPACETIME - SCIENCE SHOW
SPACETIME - SCIENCE SHOW: On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong took that famous ‘one giant leap for mankind’ on the moon’s surface. By 1972, eleven other men followed in those lunar footsteps. All were US citizens. After that, interest waned. The super powers lost interest in its closest neighbor. As with many trends, the moon is experiencing a comeback: China, Japan, India, Russia, Europe and the USA - all known space nations - want a piece of it and are planning a return to the moon. A 2.0 run on the moon is in full swing.
It was the first time that humanity was able to see their home from above, their "blue planet". Us earthlings followed the journeys of Bill Anders, Frank Borman, and Jim Lovell, who were the first humans to leave Earth’s orbit on December 21, 1968, and enter the moon’s orbit, circling it. It was astronaut Bill Anders who used his camera to film the rising of the earth above the moon - a role reversal of the celestial bodies, and it was broadcast live on Christmas of that same year. The image of the earth as a lonely, beautiful and - from the perspective of outer space - tiny planet, moved millions of people to tears. This first flight to the moon was the real beginning of the conquest of the moon, our constant companion. Just over half a year later, Neil Armstrong and then Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon. Their landing on the "Mare Tranquillitatis", the sea of tranquility, was the beginning of a new era in space travel.
A total of six manned NASA missions landed on the moon. Twelve astronauts collected rock samples, carried out scientific experiments and proved with their landings that humans are able to travel to other celestial bodies. In 1972, NASA prematurely ended its lunar program. The scientific benefit did not justify the costs. But the real goal was achieved: with the moon landings, the United States was the uncontested leading space nation. It quieted down though and interest was lost in the Earth’s satellite. Russian and US astronauts limited exploration to space stations orbiting Earth. After the end of the Cold War, this led to the joint construction of the International Space Station ISS, which is occupied by an international team of six astronauts.
But manned spaceflight is in the midst of change. The International Space Station is slowly but surely flying towards the twilight of its existence and space agencies are looking for new destinations with the moon, albeit for different reasons, becoming once again the focus of attention. While the race to the moon in the 1960s was still a part of the Cold War power struggle effort, the rekindled interest is of a purely scientific nature. The moon is being explored, measured and mapped. A permanent research station would be a new outpost of humanity in space. And for investors, the earth's moon is a tempting target, be it for future space tourism or for the promotion of raw materials. Measured in cosmic distances, the moon is relatively easy to reach. Flights there and back take a week. And so the moon would be an ideal location to test new technologies, do scientific research, or use it as a springboard for missions deeper into our solar system.
In this episode of Spacetime, astronaut and scientist Ulrich Walter explains why the moon is suddenly so interesting to mankind. We explore if water exists on the moon and why its discovery would be of such consequence. Professor Walter reveals plans of the privately funded space agencies and how and why a permanent settlement on the moon is a viable possibility. He tells us about the pioneers of the Apollo missions and the first conquest. Professor Walter shows us how the moon could become a stepping stone into deeper space exploration. Many scientists and astronauts see our terrestrial satellite as a starting point to tackle the next great adventure of mankind: Manned journeys to Mars.
About the documentary series SPACETIME
Take a look at the Earth from space: Prof. Dr. med. Ulrich Walter has fulfilled the dream of mankind. In 1993 he traveled to Earth orbit. For the science format "Spacetime", the astronaut once again sets off for the universe. In this reportage series, the physicist and professor of space technology presents current space travel trends and pioneering discoveries in space research.
The challenges of the dream call "Astronaut", the new race of the space nations to the moon or the discovery of further Earth-like exoplanets: In this documentary series, Ulrich Walter proves how lifelike science can be and what answers space travel offers to some of the fundamental questions of human existence.
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