NASA’s Orion capsule returns to Earth after test flight to Moon
It’s been 50 years since a human being last walked on the moon – but why has it been so long?
Nasa's former Apollo 17 commander Eugene Cernan was the last person to walk the lunar surface in 1972, and no-one would have guessed then that it would be five decades until astronauts would be back there.
Nasa has indicated that humans could be back there over the coming years, but there’s a reason why it’s been such a long time.
Jim Bridenstine, a former Nasa administrator, explained that the reason has nothing to do with technological restrictions. Instead, it’s all to do with politics.
"If it wasn't for the political risk, we would be on the moon right now,” he told reporters in 2018.
Humans last walked on the moon in 1972 NASA/Newsmakers via Getty
"In fact, we would probably be on Mars. It was the political risks that prevented it from happening."
He added: "The program took too long and it costs too much money."
That might be set to change soon though, with NASA's new Orion lunar spacecraft program which could see humans living on the moon for extended periods.
The signs, so far, are looking good.
Last month, an Orion capsule landed in the sea and marked the successful end of a successful test flight for the first Artemis mission, which left Earth on 16 November from the Kennedy Space Center.
“This has been an extraordinarily successful mission,” NASA administrator Bill Nelson told reporters. At every stage, Nasa has tracked the mission in detail, watching for any problems that could cause danger for a human crew.
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