Moon landing 50th anniversary with CSIRO: Moon a stepping stone to the universe

Fifty years after Apollo 11, NASA is working to land astronauts on the Moon again in the next decade.

"Our goal 50 years ago was to prove we could land humans on the Moon and return them safely to Earth," NASA's Deputy Associate Administrator for Space Communications and Navigation, Badri Younes, said during a recent visit to Australia.

"Our goal now is to return to the Moon to stay, in a sustainable way."

"This time we won't go alone, but in a way that reflects the world today - with government, industry and international partners, in a global effort."

CSIRO oversees the treaty relationship between Australia and the USA for spacecraft communications and tracking and has worked directly with NASA for almost 60 years.

"We are going to rely to a large extent on our partnerships here in Australia as well as with other space agencies to get [to the Moon]," Mr Younes said.

The new mission is called Artemis, the goddess of wilderness, and Apollo's twin sister in Greek mythology.

It will employ reusable spacecraft and process the Moon's own material for fuel and building materials.

The project's first step will be to ferry supplies from Earth to build a space station orbiting the Moon.

This will provide living quarters for astronauts and relay communications between the lunar surface and Earth.

NASA will build new antennas at its Deep Space Network stations, including the CSIRO-managed Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex.

These will use light as well as radio waves to boost the bandwidth for transmitting voice, video and data.

When they land on the Moon the Artemis astronauts will be the first to explore its south pole, where there are signs of water ice.

But the Moon is only a stopping place on the way to NASA's ultimate goal, Mars.

Voyaging to the Moon takes four days; to Mars it will take eight to 10 months.

There will be huge challenges, but "fifty years ago, we demonstrated to the world that ... human beings are capable of making the impossible, very possible," Mr Younes said.

"And we also demonstrated that you should dream big."

Australia may receive the signals from the first humans on Mars.

"We're often in the best position to talk to NASA's spacecraft," Dr Sarah Pearce, the deputy director for astronomy and space science at CSIRO said.

"And so when people walk on Mars, it's quite feasible those images could come down to Australia, as they did when people first walked on the Moon."

  • One Giant Leap is a joint initiative with CSIRO, Australia's national science agency, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.