A newly formed team of NASA engineers have started to engineer a spacecraft that will return astronauts to the surface of the Moon. It would be the first time human’s step foot on the lunar surface since the glory days of the 1960s.

An exciting development for Asgardia who could use this technology to help send humans to their habitable space platforms in the future.

The new team is known by NASA as the Lander Study Group, and in the past few weeks, they have begun brainstorming their very first ideas, as per a NASA presentation seen by Popular Mechanics. The most intriguing part of this new work is that the new lunar lander won’t be like Apollo 11 in that it will be able to make a round trip.

In their presentation, NASA’s engineering team revealed their plan to build a reusable crew cabin for the lander that comes with its own propulsion system. This part of the ship is known as the ascent stage, and it’s responsible for the return of the crew from the surface of the Moon back to the lunar orbit. (The descent stage is aimed at getting astronauts to the Moon safely, and just like the Apollo program, this stage would be left behind).

In more exciting news, although the Russian Soyuz rocket failed earlier this month, NASA chief Jim Bridenstine stated that the next set of crewmembers should launch toward the International Space Station in December.

That failure took place on Oct. 11, which resulted in the Soyuz spacecraft ferrying NASA astronaut Nick Hague and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin needing to make an emergency landing in Kazakhstan mere minutes after liftoff. 

Fortunately, the investigation into the incident has been fruitful, and the Soyuz rocket should hit the skies soon enough, as per a statement made by Bridenstine on October 23, during a meeting of the U.S. National Space Council in Washington, D.C.

Bridenstine explained that they have an excellent idea of what the issue is and that they are getting very close to understanding it even better so that they can confidently launch again.

What’s more, the Ariane 6 rocket is the successor to the Ariane 5. Engineers behind it are trying to build a lighter, more flexible rocket that will come with a lower launch cost. And now, the launch of the Ariane 6 rocket is looking good after it just cleared a significant obstacle on the path towards its maiden voyage in 2020. That hurdle? The qualification tests on the rocket’s Vinci® engine, which were completed on October 12 in Vernon, France.

The engine, which will be responsible for powering the upper stage of Ariane 6, has the capability of re-igniting as often as needed. This will enable the rocket to place several payloads into orbit at various locations. Alain Charmeau, the CEO of ArianeGroup, explained that the first Vinci engine flight model is set to be assembled in 2019.

The qualification campaign boasted a series of 20 successful consecutive boosts during a single test of 300 seconds, along with a total engine run time of more than 14 hours.

Are you excited about the prospect of humans returning to the Moon? Do you think NASA's plan to build a reusable crew cabin for the lander is a good idea? Why?

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