(12 Feb. 1971) — Gary Meschi (left), and Jim Bacak (right), glove operators employed by Brown & Root/Northrop on the Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC) site, work with newly arrived Apollo 14 lunar sample material in the Sterile Nitrogen Atmospheric Processing (SNAP) line in the Lunar Receiving Laboratory (LRL) at MSC. Pictured in a tray is Apollo 14 sample number 14411. Dr. Don Morrison of the Planetary and Earth Sciences Division of the Science and Applications Directorate at MSC is in the center background.

We are going back to the Moon!

It’s been decades since humankind last walked on the Moon, but a joint European and Russian mission is set to begin exploring the possibilities for our return and even eventual Lunar colonisation – starting off with a robotic research mission expected to launch in five years’ time.

Luna 27, a combined effort by the European Space Agency (ESA) and Roscosmos, the Russian Federal Space Agency, will be the first launch of a new series of missions designed to ultimately return humans to the Lunar surface for the first time since 1972, according to a report by Pallab Ghosh at BBC News.

“We have to go to the Moon. The 21st century will be the century when it will be the permanent outpost of human civilisation, and our country has to participate in this process,” said Igor Mitrofanov, one of the lead scientists involved with the mission at the Space Research Institute in Moscow.

International ‘Luna 27’ mission sets the stage for a human return to the Moon - ScienceAlert

The success of Ranger VII turned President Kennedy’s distant goal into a technical possibility in the minds of many Americans. This petition from Henry Stoner, suggests how “great projects” like Ranger VII could serve as an alternate focus of public attention from the civil unrest of the 1960’s and the crippling politicization of the Cold War. Stoner petitioned the House of Representatives to officially congratulate NASA for their successful Ranger flight.

Petition from Henry Stoner Regarding the Success of Ranger VII’s Photographic Flight, 8/4/1964, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives (7348590)

Leading up to the Apollo missions, NASA worked to learn about the lunar surface and excite the public for the coming manned mission. Project Ranger fulfilled both objectives by flying satellites directly into the moon. Just before impact, the Ranger probes would send back a flurry of high definition images of the lunar surface. While the first six Ranger probes failed, Ranger VII managed to transmit stunning images of the moon, like this one, back to Earth.

Image from Ranger VII, 7/28/1964, Records of the U.S. Senate (7348589)

NASA Shows Off Orion EM-1 Structure at KSC for Inaugural SLS Lunar Flight Test

NASA Shows Off Orion EM-1 Structure at KSC for Inaugural SLS Lunar Flight Test

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NASA’s Orion EM-1 pressure vessel on display in the KSC O&C building Feb 3, where it will continue preparations for the maiden flight of NASA’s SLS rocket by end of the decade. The mission, Exploration Mission-1, will put the Orion to the test thousands of miles beyond the moon for several weeks before returning Earth, paving the way for crew missions to follow. Photo Credit: John Studwell /…

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45 years ago today at 7:51am on December 21st, 1968,  Apollo 8 lifted off from earth to become the first manned spacecraft to leave earth orbit.

The crew of Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders oversaw a flawless mission which provided some of the most striking images ever seen by humans.  

The Apollo missions fill us mere earthlings with awe and wonder, and inspire humans to stretch their reach to the stars.