Are you interested in landing on the moon? If so, NASA wants your ideas! The space agency has opened a submission period for commercial moon-lander proposals, stating that those chosen could even fly as soon as 2019.

This submission period is one of NASA’s early steps in the agency’s plan to send humans back to the moon's surface in the 2020s. That timeline was selected in part because of the plan NASA has to recruit commercial partnerships to lessen the burden on the agency and its budget.

Steve Clarke, deputy associate administrator for exploration at NASA, said in a statement that the idea is that these early missions will help prepare the agency for more complex future missions including searching for usable resources, building up a seismic network to understand the moon's internal structure, and probing the lunar mineralogy and chemistry to learn more about the moon's origins.

What’s more, it's been almost one and a half decades since a spacecraft was sent toward Mercury. Luckily, you’ll get the chance to watch a rocket do just that tonight.

BepiColombo, a European-Japanese initiative marks only the third mission to probe the solar system's innermost planet. It launches tonight (Oct. 19) from Kourou, French Guiana, aboard an Ariane 5 ECA rocket. Liftoff is set for 9:45 p.m. EDT (0145 GMT, Oct. 20), and you can watch the launch live at, thanks to the European Space Agency (ESA).

The broadcast will start at 9:15 p.m. EDT (0115 GMT, Oct. 20), with 30 minutes of commentary before the launch. The BepiColombo payload will be launched about 26 minutes into the flight and will signal mission control approximately 15 minutes after that. The broadcast is set to end at 10:30 p.m. EDT (0230 GMT, Oct. 20).

As Asgardia works toward creating a demilitarized and free scientific base of knowledge in space, as well as setting up habitable platforms in low-Earth orbit, these missions are essential to follow.

Moreover, Roscosmos, Russia’s space agency will perform three uncrewed launches before 2018 is finished leading up to the next human-crewed mission in space, according to Sergei Krikalyov, Roscosmos’s executive director for crewed space programs in a news conference held on Wednesday.

Krikalyov stated that the Soyuz rocket would be deployed only after the inquiry has determined the causes of the emergency and steps have been taken to stop this kind of situation in the future. Due to the rules in place, there must be at least one unmanned launch before the flight of a human-crewed spacecraft. 

Thus, Roscosmos intends to accomplish at least three launches (before the next human-crewed mission which is scheduled for early December) from the Kourou space site, the launch of an uncrewed spacecraft and an unmanned spacecraft Progress. The results of those test flights will be more than enough to put the next crew in space.

Lastly, the future of society will most likely take place off-Earth, primarily due to climate change. However, to build a viable colony anywhere outside of Earth’s atmosphere there are many engineering and logistical challenges to overcome.

For instance, humans need to be transported to the off-Earth colony. They will also need shelter and food. And it seems as though feeding the human settlements in space could be the most significant hurdle to overcome. As Mark Watney highlighted in his book The Martian, farming in space isn’t as easy as it is here on Earth.

Luckily, researchers from the University of Zurich have demonstrated how space farming could be made possible. By engineering plants to excrete excess amounts of a particular hormone, they showed that crops could thrive despite harsh space conditions, including low-nutrient soil and microgravity.

Borghi and his co-workers suggest that a plant hormone could be able to enhance the production of crops by promoting a symbiotic relationship between plant roots and fungi in the soil. Known as mycorrhiza, this relationship gives plants more resources, like water, nitrogen, and phosphate. The plant hormone, strigolactone, elicits this symbiotic relationship.

If you’re fascinated by space and dream of living among the stars in the future, then join Asgardia today and turn that dream into a reality!

Will you be answering NASA's call for Moon landers? What are your ideas on how to grow crops in space? Let's discuss in the comments below!