Australia will play a major role in establishing human colonies on the Moon, after concluding an agreement with NASA to produce a rover that will be a major part of future missions. The 20kg vehicle will help collect soil containing oxides while NASA, using separate plants, aims to extract oxygen from the surface, to assess how it can support human life.
Finding a source of oxygen is essential to living on Earth’s satellite. NASA plans to return humans to the moon by 2024 and establish a permanent outpost at the lunar south pole, which would pave the way for long-term scientific activity, and then the first human mission to Mars in the 2030s.
The Australian Government will support leading companies and researchers to develop the vehicle. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the mission will contribute to the growth of the national economy, while providing an opportunity for Australia to establish itself globally in the space sector. According to ASA Administrator Enrico Palermo, the production of the rover will benefit from experience in the remote operations of the mining sector. “Australia is at the forefront of robotic technology and remote operations systems, which will be key to establishing a sustainable presence on the Moon, and in the future supporting human exploration of Mars,” he added.
Close cooperation in space will be another aspect of the new Aukud security agreement between the United States, Australia and Great Britain, bearing in mind that any future military operation will rely on satellites for communications, navigation and weapons guidance.
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