Astronaut Neil Armstrong made a giant leap for mankind when he became the first person to walk on the moon in 1969.
But now, a mere 45 years later, Brits could be about to head en masse to the earth's only natural satellite. In fact, as long as a scientist-backed crowd-funding mission is successful, we will be making our way there in just 10 years time. Move over, Benidorm...
Well, sort of. A plan called Lunar Mission One has been launched through Kickstarter, so people in the UK can pay to send a little part of themselves to the moon via a robotic probe. DNA information from a sample of hair will cost around £50 to send, while a compressed photo will be a few tens of pounds and a short video around £200.
Once there, all the items will be buried under the surface and preserved in a “time capsule” for future generations to stumble across. And if humans go extinct, it will provide other species with an understanding of who we were, in just the same way as we like to dig up dinosaur fossils in order to learn more about our earhtly predecessors.
Sending the probe into space will require £500m in public donations, but an initial £600,000 is needed to get it (the project, that is) off the ground.
The plan is supported by space scientists from universities across the country, including particle physicist and BBC presenter Professor Brian Cox, the Astronomer Royal Lord Rees, and Prof Monica Grady of the Open University.
As well as delivering an archive of human history and science, the probe will also use the opportunity to study the southern part of the moon and find a suitable spot for setting up a human base there in the future.
The idea for the mission came from engineer David Iron, who has already been involved in more than 150 technology and space projects. He said he was setting up the mission because governments were finding it increasingly difficult to fund space projects.
“Governments are finding it increasingly difficult to fund space exploration that is solely for the advancement of human knowledge and understanding as opposed to commercial return,” he said.
“The world class team of advisors and supporters we have assembled will address this issue and crucially, anyone from around the world can get involved for as little as a few pounds.
“Lunar Mission One will make a huge contribution to our understanding of the origins of our planet and the Moon and will inspire a generation to learn more about space, science and engineering – in the same way that my generation was inspired by the Apollo Moon landings.”
The team hopes to decide on launch dates and final mission costs by 2017, and in the following year they will begin designing the spacecraft.
If all goes according to plan, the craft will be built by 2021 and testing will take place during 2022 and 2023, with take off happening in 2024.