Chair-way to heaven

A private company is offering to put men back on the Moon at a tenth of the price it will cost Nasa.
And astronauts will land on our neighbouring world in special rocket-powered CHAIRS.
Space company SpaceDev claim they can establish a human colony for a fraction of the cost and in much less time.
They say their missions – which could start flying astronauts as early as 2010 – would be safer too.
Nasa has announced plans to return a manned craft to the Moon in 2018 in a project costing £60billion.
But SpaceDev chief Jim Benson said: “Our type of human mission could have 40 people visiting the Moon for the cost of Nasa’s first mission.”
The Californian company’ study is based on plans to set up a colony near the lunar south pole where it is believed there may be ice to provide water.
Each mission would deliver a habitat module – a space cabin that would be left behind to house the growing colony (see picture).
Astronauts would be launched into space on a Shuttle lookalike called the Dream Chaser that SpaceDev are already planning to operate for missions around the Earth.
The ship, carrying four crew, would join up with other modules in orbit around the Earth for the flight to the Moon.
The mission would be put together using a mix of existing and new technology.
Once in orbit around the Moon, the astronauts would each sit in a revolutionary rocket chair to carry them to the surface.
Each chair (see artist’s impression above) would have enough rocket power to lift the astronauts back into space to rejoin the command module.
And if a problem hit the ship on the way to the Moon, the four chairs would have enough fuel to drive the capsule back to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere.
SpaceDev has an agreement with Nasa to study new designs for flight beyond the Earth.

Paul Sutherland

Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.
Paul Sutherland

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Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.

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