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NASA has a pretty crazy idea to transport astronauts around the Moon

© NASA/Ethan Schaler

The American space agency is working behind the scenes to perfect its return to the Moon. More than 50 years after the first Apollo missions, NASA seems closer than ever to our satellite. With its Artemis program, the Moon is the objective, but there is no question of making a “jump” there. of a few hours.

This time the American agency wants to permanently install astronauts on the night star. To achieve this very ambitious goal, NASA must think of everything. In addition to suits, housing, food or energy, the American space agency is also considering the best way to allow its astronauts to move around.

Trains suspended on the Moon

Because all the resources necessary for the design of a lunar base are not located in the same place. Additionally, the Moon, with its ultra-fine dust on the surface, can't really be traversed in 4×4 as one could through a sandy desert on Earth.

The solution favored in recent years by the American space agency would be the use of the train. Indeed, trains would have the advantage of not raising dust like cars. At the same time, and due to low air friction, they would be very efficient on the Moon. Low gravity could also allow NASA to build maglev (magnetically suspended) trains.

The FLOAT project

As part of its Innovative Advanced Concepts program, NASA recently rewarded a project in precisely this area. Proof of NASA's growing interest in this technology. With the FLOAT mission, NASA is developing the beginnings of these movements.

For now, the prototypes and 3D views of these trains of the future are in reality just large goods carts, moving levitated above a layer of graphite. As the engineers behind this project explain, FLOAT could help astronauts in their daily tasks by transporting heavy objects. For the moment, however, the system cannot transport humans or go very fast (0.5 m/s or 1.8 km/h).

Northrop Grumman is also on the scene

Far from being the only lunar train project subsidized by NASA, the FLOAT program is in competition with other missions, including one carried out for years by the company Northrop Grumman. If this company is quite discreet, it is a heavyweight industrial space sector.

Northrop Grumman worked, among other things, on the design of the space shuttle. The company was already on the American agency's list of subcontractors during the first lunar epic more than 50 years ago.

Among the different projects that the company is carrying out on behalf of NASA, it is also trying to build a lunar train. This concept would be more imposing, but also more expensive and difficult to implement. It would have the great advantage of allowing the transport of both goods and astronauts on lunar soil.

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Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116