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To the Moon and Beyond With Unity

Gene Cernan took this picture of Harrison Schmitt on the second last day Men stood on the Moon
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  • by Laura Woodmansee
    Pasadena - October 30, 2001
    Yes, it's depressing that we didn't stay on the Moon the first time. But it's time to get over it and plan our future in space. The first step is a return to the Moon, not for humanitarian or political reasons, but for business.

    Let's face it, we can't deny our true selves. What drives human civilization is business! But, we aren't a bunch of greedy, selfish business people. We have dreams of exploring and colonizing space and we want to make our dreams a reality. We have the passion and determination to make this happen. But we, as space advocates, need to work together and combine our resources.

    We are at a standstill right now. But, humans will go to the Moon, the planets and beyond. This will happen just as soon as we stop looking inward and start looking outward.

    Many of us feel that the universe is our destiny; it seems to be calling to us. It's time for us to join forces and work together. We need to create a coalition of space organizations to work together for a common goal. Working together is the only way to get people and businesses into space.

    We have so many problems here on Earth, and some may ask why we focus on space at all. It is because we can see beyond the terrorists and the environmental problems. We can see that our future is in space. The Moon is just a first step. We all know that our ultimate goal is to travel to planets in other star systems, and beyond.

    A lot of people that I've talked with feel that the Moon is an ideal place from which we can relay solar power to the Earth via microwaves. A Moon base providing electric power could get us off oil forever.

    The Moon could export enough power to enable everyone on Earth to live at the level the average American does today. Probably better. One way to start this project is to use lunar resources to build a circle of solar arrays around the lunar South Pole.

    The thousands of people who will build this first lunar base will probably live under the surface to protect them from radiation. These people will create our first Moon cities and communities. As the infrastructure grows we can add rail gun and other technologies to send probes to anywhere in the solar system at little cost.

    The next time we go to the moon we should take with us the tools to build permanent structures. Not just self-contained landers for more "flags & footprints" images. Once we can build structures economically on the Moon, the space era will truly begin.

    NASA needs to redefine its mission, but we don't need to wait until it does. We can work together and build a future in space founded on private enterprise.

    At the final luncheon of the Space Frontier Conference 10, science fiction author Ben Bova made a great point. He said that private enterprise settled the American West in half a century. If we had waited for the U.S. government to do it, we'd still be deciding today whether to build St. Louis or Chicago.

    Right now, it seems, NASA is so invested in the International Space Station that it can't get out. After investing billions in the orbiting white elephant, NASA has yet to show its value. The top brass can't accept a new mission while the ISS is sucking up all the money, and will continue to do so for the next decade or two.

    NASA is a great idea, but seems to have lost a lot of ground within the past decade or so. When I was growing up, it seemed like NASA promised us life in space. But now I wonder if it was my dream alone.

    Maybe that dream really was NASA's mission and budget cuts have caused the dream to crash. It seems that the dream is still alive, but it's in a coma.

    We need to realize that NASA has just enough money to do what the U.S. Government wants it to do. It keeps NASA almost starving so that the agency will be grateful, without complaint, to do any task the US government asks it to do. NASA is not going to get the average person into space. That's not NASA's job! That's our job!

    NASA has its problems, but it's still a great agency. It once sent people to the moon! It can be that way again, but it probably won't be. And it's time that we accept this.

    That's why space conferences and conventions are so wonderful. We can meet people who have started their own companies in order to to get people and business into space. Most ideas are really good, some are a bit nutty and farfetched, and a few are even brilliant.

    Private companies can get us to the Moon. But to really get going in a big way, we need a major corporation, or a conglomeration of small companies working together.

    We've got to get out of LEO and on to the Moon. Mars is great, I'd love to go there. But, I believe it will cost too much right now, in lives and in dollars. But if we go to the moon first, as Robert Heinlein once said, we're half way to anywhere.

    After we establish ourselves on the Moon, going to Mars will be much cheaper, more profitable, and a maybe even a bit less dangerous.

    As space advocates, we need to get beyond our current fears. We need to believe once again that we have a future in space. When you believe in something, you're half way to making it come true. If we believe together, and work together, we can make human civilization in space a reality.

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