Looks I’m on the same wavelength as the writers at CNN, at least on one issue–Going back to the moon isn’t a bad idea.
I admit that (Thanks to Gary Busey) I poked a lot of fun at what is sure to be an unfulfilled campaign promise. (Aren’t they all?) But the fact remains: We have the ability to back to the moon and stay there.
When it comes to space travel, it is merely a question of technology, money, and will–so let’s take a look on where we stand on these three.
We have the Knowledge
I put technology first because this one is a no brainer. We’ve had the ability to put a person on the moon for over 40 years! We’ve been showing that we have the know-how to sustain life in space with Space Lab, Mir, and now the ISS. All the “technology development” that NASA has been doing is really just iterations and refinement of technology that is perfectly serviceable. I’m not saying that it’s pretty; we certainly won’t be living in giant underground dome with hydroponic parks, but it’s completely doable.
We have the Means
The next hurdle is money. The first response to space travel is: America can’t afford it, or, our economy is in the dumps right now. Let me ask you this, when in the past 40 years have we ever “had enough money”? When we went in the 60’s our country was going through some tough times. BUT going to the moon created an entire industry! You want well paying jobs? Look to aerospace. You want a job you can be proud of? Do a job that moved humanity into space. We have money to burn on banks, fighter planes, iPhones, and all sorts of other junk. We’re just not choosing to fund space travel.
We have the Will
This leads me to my final point: We have the will power to go to the moon! If NASA put out requests for blue collar workers to live/work on the moon how many replies would they get back? People would be beating down their doors trying to become one of the first lunar settlers! People ask why go to the moon, what purpose does it serve? For one, it gets us off Earth and makes our species more resilient to a possible disaster. The moon is also rich in Helium3, which could be used for fusion, a clean energy source. Excitement, honor, prestige, money, clean energy, research, I’ve just given you 6 reasons to go back, and 3 of them directly impact your wallet.
It’s Time to Get to Work
Somehow, we as a country have forgotten all our former achievements, our skills, and out capacity to take on a project of this magnitude. If it takes a crazy presidential candidate’s off hand promise to rouse us from our malaise, than so be it! Clint Eastwood was little overly dramatic during the super bowl, but he’s right: Our country has the ability to bounce back from a hard few years and if we so chose the sound of it can shake the world. I believe it could shake other worlds as well.