Spurred into action by the successful Chinese lunar landing mission, U.S. lunar scientists — who were run over by the Obama steamroller to cancel NASA’s future missions to the Moon — are taking advantage of the international accolades for the Chang’e-3 accomplishment, to organize support for the re-establishment of a U.S. lunar program.
The Lunar Exploration Analysis Group (LEAG), which is made up of lunar scientists, and was established by NASA to advise the space agency, has drafted a letter, complete with poster, which is being sent to every Member of the House, and Members of the appropriate Senate Committees. Terming their campaign, “Destination Moon,” the mailing outlines “The Value of Exploring the Moon.” They describe the Moon (the nearest Near-Earth Object), as a “gateway to the Solar System,” and outline the value of lunar resources, the advancement of technologies lunar development would require, and the scientific investigations that are unique to the Moon. The LEAG has produced a number of reports, which are “roadmaps,” outlining the steps necessary to explore, develop, and use the Moon. These have been presented to NASA, to no avail since Obama cancelled the Constellation program. The LEAG reports contribute to the U.S.. input to the international global exploration working groups, all of which nations, except the U.S., have the Moon as their post Earth-orbit destination.
Contributing to the overall campaign to reverse anti-lunar U.S. policy, space scientist Chris McKay, from NASA’s Ames Research Center, has an article in the December issue of New Space, as reported by National Geographic on Dec. 20. McKay, who is well known for his pioneering work on astrobiology, explains that the Moon is the ideal place for government-sponsored manned missions for science, which could then pave the way for more ambitious mining industries, refueling stations, and other activities for space industries. A lunar base will be the testing ground for new technologies, for the human adaptation to partial gravities, and the basic science for living and working in space.
And to remind us of the impact space exploration had on the American cultural outlook 45 years ago, former astronaut Jim Lovell recalled mankind’s first look out into the cosmos in situ, as he stood next to the Apollo 8 capsule that he commanded, that took the first human beings out of the orbit of the Earth, and to the Moon.