First Moon Shot in Many Moons is On the Way
It's the first time anyone but Americans or Soviets have tried
to reach the Moon, and, not surprisingly, it's a European
Saturday morning, the Kourou launch station in French Guiana saw
an Ariane-5 make a spectacular launch, starting a long trip that
will set a couple satellites into Earth orbit, and one 815-pound
probe, that's going to check out the moon, starting in late
December of next year.
The INSAT 3-E, India's satellite, and France's Eutelsat are the
Earth-orbiting projects. They'll be on-station 'way sooner.
The moon probe, called SMART-1, will meander quite a bit in that
time, covering 62 million miles, to reach the moon, which is a
quarter-million miles away. The reason it's taking so long is to
save fuel -- the trip will be made with about 16 gallons of the
precious stuff. [In a straight line, with planetary alignments just
so, 62 million miles of travel could get you to Mars --ed.]
Electric power to the moon, Mars, and beyond?
SMART-1 will be propelled mostly by electricity, powered by
solar panels, according to Giuseppe RACCA, the ESA Project Manager.
David Southwood, ESA's Director of Scientific Programs, told a news
conference in Kourou, "With SMART-1 we can test propulsion in
deep-space orbit. The next step, I hope, will be a Mars
Who's next to Space? Red China; they have a military project
that demands space dominance; a manned program is an integral part
of that scheme.