Chris Hadfield: Moon colonisation is 'obvious' next step
Chris Hadfield spent 166 days in space and spacewalked for almost 15 hours. The next "logical" space exploration? Humans is returning to the Moon and building colonies there. "We will be on International Space Station for another ten years or so, and where's the next obvious place we'll go: the Moon. It's only three days away"
Space programs, from SpaceX and Nasa, are targeting putting humans on Mars within the next 20 years, with Nasa likely to pick its landing site during the next presidential term. But Hadfield, who has now retired, says the Moon is an ideal testing ground.
"I expect we'll treat the Moon, for the next 100 years, like we've treated Antartica for the last 100 years. With an initial outpost briefly and then longer stays and people staying through the entire winter, and eventually we will have permanent habitation on the Moon." Then, he says, humans will go as far as Mars.
And a return to the Moon, more than 40 years since the last humans left, could happen very soon indeed. The European Space Agency has announced its intent to put humans back on the Moon "by the end of the next decade".
The agency, which will be supported with its plans by Nasa and other agencies, said that human missions will start in the "early 2020s" with "astronauts interacting with robots on the lunar surface". Hadfield said he would make a fourth trip into space, in any capacity.
With Elon Musk's SpaceX continue tests on its privately-built Dragon 2 capsule, which will be one of the first commercial spacecraft to transport astronauts to the ISS, Hadfield argues that commercial spaceflight is at a "tipping point".
"The real question is can you get the price down low enough so that the customer can be someone beside a nation? Can you make the price low enough so that the customer can be a private company or an private individual," he says.
"Extremely wealthy people can maybe buy a ride to space but we're getting to the point, especially with the recent advances at SpaceX, where it becomes more and more available. And to me that is just natural."