O Τζεφ Μπέζος ετοιμάζεται για το φεγγάρι – Η «dream team» του θα κατασκευάσει νέα σεληνάκατο

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Η «ντριμ τιμ» του διαστήματος… είναι εδώ! Ο δισεκατομμυριούχος Τζεφ Μπέζος, δημιουργός της Amazon, ανακοίνωσε τη δημιουργία μιας νέας «εθνικής ομάδας» των ΗΠΑ, που φιλοδοξεί να κατασκευάσει την επόμενη σεληνάκατο με την οποία οι αστροναύτες της Αμερικανικής Διαστημικής Υπηρεσίας (NASA) θα ξαναπατήσουν το πόδι τους στο φεγγάρι το 2024. Η «ντριμ τιμ» αποτελείται από τη διαστημική εταιρεία Blue Origin του Μπέζος, τους αεροδιαστημικούς γίγαντες Lockheed Martin και Northrop Grumman, καθώς και την Draper.

Ο Λευκός Οίκος έχει θέσει τον φιλόδοξο στόχο μιας νέας επανδρωμένης αποστολής στον νότιο πόλο της Σελήνης μέσα στα επόμενα πέντε χρόνια, πολύ νωρίτερα από τα αρχικά σχέδια της NASA για το 2028. Το νέο διαστημικό πρόγραμμα «Άρτεμις» έρχεται να διαδεχθεί το ιστορικό πρόγραμμα «Απόλλων».

Ο Μπέζος, ο οποίος έκανε τη σχετική ανακοίνωση σε διεθνές αστροναυτικό συνέδριο στην Ουάσινγκτον, αποκάλεσε τη σύμπραξη των τεσσάρων εταιρειών «μια εθνική ομάδα για μια εθνική προτεραιότητα». Επικεφαλής των τεσσάρων εταιρειών θα είναι η Blue Origin, ανταγωνίστρια της Space X του Ίλον Μασκ. Η Grumman Aircraft είχε συντονίσει την κατασκευή της ιστορικής ακάτου «Απόλλων» και αργότερα συγχωνεύθηκε με τη Northrop Corp, σχηματίζοντας τη Northrop Grumman.

Η υπό ανάπτυξη σεληνάκατος θα μεταφερθεί με έναν γιγάντιο πύραυλο στον, επίσης, υπό κατασκευή μικρό σεληνιακό σταθμό Gateway που θα έχει τεθεί σε τροχιά γύρω από τον δορυφόρο της Γης και από εκεί θα μεταφέρει τους Αμερικανούς αστροναύτες στο φεγγάρι.

Στην πραγματικότητα θα κατασκευαστεί ένα νέο σύστημα προσσελήνωσης από τρία ξεχωριστά τμήματα. Το πρώτο (θα το φτιάξει η Northrop Grumman) θα είναι ένα όχημα καθόδου που θα μεταφέρει τα άλλα δύο σε χαμηλότερη σεληνιακή τροχιά, από όπου θα γίνει η τελική φάση καθόδου. Η κυρίως άκατος που στη συνέχεια θα μεταφέρει τους αστροναύτες στη Σελήνη, θα κατασκευαστεί από την Blue Origin.

Ένα τρίτο τμήμα (που είναι ευθύνη της Lockheed Martin) θα αναλάβει να στείλει πίσω την επανδρωμένη άκατο από τη Σελήνη στον σεληνιακό σταθμό Gateway. H Draper ανέλαβε να αναπτύξει το λογισμικό και τα ηλεκτρονικά συστήματα καθοδήγησης και πλοήγησης της σεληνακάτου, κάτι που είχε κάνει και στο πρόγραμμα «Απόλλων», αλλά βέβαια από τότε έχουν υπάρξει σημαντικές τεχνολογικές εξελίξεις σε αυτό το πεδίο.

Όμως, η «εθνική ομάδα» του Μπέζος δεν έχει ακόμη επιλεγεί επίσημα από τη NASA, η οποία θα εξετάσει και άλλες εναλλακτικές προτάσεις από άλλες εταιρείες. Η τελική επιλογή θα ανακοινωθεί σε λίγους μήνες.

Στο μεταξύ, η Blue Origin του Μπέζος κάνει δοκιμές στο νέο υποτροχιακό σκάφος της New Shepard για πτήσεις διαστημικών τουριστών, που μπορεί να αρχίσουν εντός του 2020. Αναπτύσσει επίσης τον νέο επαναχρησιμοποιούμενο πύραυλο New Glenn, ανταγωνιστικό των Falcon της Space X, ο οποίος αναμένεται να πετάξει το 2021.

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