Sunday, November 02, 2003

Back to the Moon?

Indications are that there may be a presidential announcement at Kitty Hawk on December 17 - the centennial of manned flight - that will redirect American space efforts towards the moon.

As of late October, sources indicate that a central recommendation is likely, but not certainly to be resumption of manned lunar flights to develop advanced technologies that can support U.S. astronauts working beyond Earth orbit to not only the Moon, but eventually on near-Earth asteroids and Mars.

In an early phase of the meetings, manned Mars expeditions were considered too expensive and risky to adopt as a central goal for the civil space program. But Bush is being urged to factor in future interplanetary manned flight capabilities as part of the justification for a return to the moon. The last U.S. manned lunar mission was conducted by the Apollo 17 crew in December, 1972.

This would be a good place to start. Lunar flights and a lunar base would be the best possible way to get our feet wet and ready for long-distance exploration. Too bad we stupidly abandoned these goals 30 years ago - but it's not too late to restart and get back to work.

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