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We will walk on the moon

In December, it will be 50 years since men walked on the Moon for the last time, during the mission Apollo 17. But soon, thanks to Artemis, we will walk there again. And this time, it will be the first step… to Mars. At the time of writing these lines, we are still waiting for the takeoff of the first rocket. With no one on board, it must pass close to the Moon, leave a few satellites there in orbit, then return. Artemis 2 will make the same trip, but with humans on board. Then with Artemis 3, we will land on the surface. In 2025, if all goes well.

The ultimate goal is to install a space station in orbit around the Moon, Gateway, which will serve as a starting point for missions to Mars and elsewhere in the solar system.

Are you excited? Or incredulous, perhaps? Or you ask yourself, “What’s the point?” »

Return to space

Technology is not something that is discovered and then remains in the memory of humanity forever. Technology is a tool. And if you don’t use it, it disappears.

In the documentary Return to Space (2022) on Netflix, we follow the efforts of Elon Musk and SpaceX to send American astronauts to the International Space Station. Because since the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011, the Americans depended on the Soyuz shuttle, and the Russians, to send their astronauts into space.

Yet space exploration has forced us to invent a host of technologies that are very useful here on Earth, from the camera on your phone to LED lights.

The technology for getting to and from the moon is already gone. We have to reinvent it, with Artemis. And who knows what discoveries we will make along the way?

search the stars

With the new telescope James Webb, we can look further than ever into the universe and its history, to the first galaxies to form. But what fascinates me most is its potential to peer into exoplanets in our galaxy.

As of August 1, we have discovered 5,125 of these planets orbiting a star other than our sun. And the more you look, the more you find. Very recently, a Quebec team even discovered an oceanic planet, which would be composed of between 10% and 25% water. The Earth contains less than 1% water. This exoplanet is 100 light years away.

Soon perhaps we will discover clues that life exists elsewhere. Or not. And I don’t know what would be more terrifying.

(Over)living together

The point is that the universe is huge and full of mysteries. And we are just beginning to look up at the sky. Meanwhile, it is difficult for us to live together on our fragile little planet. We forget that this thin layer of air, the atmosphere, into which we now inject 35 billion tons of CO2 per year, is the only thing that separates us from the cold and indifferent nothingness of the universe.

To survive in space, you will have to realize that it is not “us against us”, but “us against extinction”. We will have to work together.

As such, the International Space Station is a remarkable example of international collaboration. Since 2000, there is always at least one human orbiting the Earth. You can even explore it on video, thanks to American astronaut Steve Swanson’s detailed tour available on YouTube, for example.

But this space station, which can be seen in the evening among the stars, is glued to the Earth. On a cosmic scale, it’s just stepping out onto our front porch. The Moon is barely the bottom of our backyard. Its light takes about 1.3 seconds to reach us. The sun is 8 minutes and 20 seconds.

While waiting for us to return to the Moon, listen to the documentary Apollo 11 (2019), on the first time we went there. Entirely made up of archival footage from the era, it’s a unique historical journey. I can’t imagine the feeling of seeing these images live, in 1969, on a small black and white television.

And I can’t wait to see the lunar surface, in high definition, in a few years.