Australia is about to embark on its first-ever lunar expedition. The land down under is investing millions in developing a functioning lunar rover as part of NASA's Artemis project. While NASA plans to send the rover to the moon in the future, it may arrive as early as 2026.

Earth to the Moon
(Photo : Apollo 8 crewmember Bill Anders via Wikimedia Commons)
This view of the rising Earth greeted the Apollo 8 astronauts as they came from behind the Moon after the fourth nearside orbit. Earth is about five degrees above the horizon in the photo. The unnamed surface features in the foreground are near the eastern limb of the Moon as viewed from Earth. The lunar horizon is approximately 780 kilometers from the spacecraft.

Australia's Plan to Expand Its Space Industry

The country's most advanced experts will work with companies to create the next rover. CNN (via FBC News) said Australia has so far received US $ 37 million (AU $50 million) in funding from a program as part of the country's "Moon to Mars" effort. The rover will be semi-autonomous and is expected to collect soil samples from the moon's surface to look for oxides. NASA will also utilize Australia's rover to collect oxygen from the lunar soil, using different techniques. This is a critical step toward establishing a long-term human presence on the moon while also ensuring the infrastructure required to support future Mars missions. Hence, Australia is contributing to the worldwide effort to place humans on Mars rather than just traveling to the moon.

In a statement, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the moon mission would help the country's economy recover from the COVID-19 problem by providing more job openings and hiring unemployed people.

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Prime Minister Morrison said the recent development is a great chance for the country to succeed in the global space industry. He added that the project is key to the government's ambition to secure more employment and a more significant part of the developing space economy.

According to the official, they aim to expand the size of our space sector by 2030. He said the project could add $12 billion to their economy and produce up to 20,000 new, high-skilled jobs. These numbers would give Australians and industries greater possibilities. Since July 2018, Australia has spent over $700 million in the civil space industry, bolstering key businesses like as manufacturing, robotics, engineering, mining, and resources."

Australia Eyes Landing Rover To Lunar Surface by 2026

Australia's Minister for Science and Technology Melissa Price said in the same statement that the rover project will usher in a new age for the country's space industry. According to Price, the project will strengthen the Australian space sector's competence and capacity. She added that it would also promote Australia's strengths throughout the globe and encourage a new generation of young people to pursue professions in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Bill Nelson, NASA Administrator, hailed the new agreement and underlined Australia's long history in space exploration, dating back to the Apollo mission. In a New York Post report, Nelson said that the deal would deepen a 50-year-old partnership with Australia in the field of space exploration. The deal is contingent on the rover satisfying several requirements throughout its development.

Through the Artemis program, NASA will unearth more discoveries and perform more research by collaborating with the Australian Space Agency and our colleagues across the world," Nelson said. Of course, NASA will send the rover to the moon, but it might land in 2026 if the development process goes smoothly.

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