Skip to comments.International Declaration Signed Advocating Return to the Moon
Posted on 12/05/2003 4:30:29 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
If speculation turns fact that President George Bush is supporting a NASA return to the Moon, he is not alone in wanting to go the lunar distance. Numbers of nations -- China, India, Japan, among them -- are making plans to explore the Moon.
A worldwide gathering of lunar experts has called for a sequence of technological, exploratory and commercial missions culminating in the establishment a human presence on the Moon.
The declaration -- issued December 4 -- was hammered out following a major international meeting of scientists, engineers, and mission planners, held November 16-22 on Hawai`i Island, Hawaii.
The weeklong gathering brought together representatives from the major spacefaring nations under the banner of the International Lunar Exploration Working Group (ILEWG). This was the fifth gathering of nations that are actively pursuing exploration of the Moon, said Steve Durst, a key conference organizer and head of Space Age Publishing Company with offices in Hawaii.
Durst told SPACE.com that the meeting was goal oriented, rather than just academic, with the purpose of the conference to see people back on the Moon within the decade. The next ILEWG meeting is to be held next November in India, he said, with China or Europe to host the working group in 2005.
Compelling questions evolved from the conference, Dust said, such as:
· What national, international or commercial mission will be first to establish a toehold for Lunar Civilization?
· Where and what will that toehold be on the Moon: a power station, observatory, or perhaps a communications hub and resource processing plant complex at Malapert Mountain at the Moon's South Pole. Another site of major interest is Shackleton crater, perhaps the location of water ice, hidden from the Sun's warming rays.
The document is labeled as "The Hawaii Moon Declaration" and provides a unique, global perspective regarding the importance of the Moon in the 21st century.
The declaration is produced here in its entirety, courtesy of Space Age Publishing Company:
"The Moon is currently the focus of an international program of scientific investigation. Current missions underway or planned will lead to the future use of the Moon for science and commercial development, thereby multiplying opportunities for humanity in space and on Earth. We need the Moon for many reasons: to use its resources of materials and energy to provide for our future needs in space and on Earth, to establish a second reservoir of human culture in the event of a terrestrial catastrophe, and to study and understand the universe. The next step in human exploration beyond low Earth orbit logically is to the Moon, our closest celestial neighbor in the Solar System."
"Declaring this, we note large gaps in our understanding and knowledge must be addressed before the Moon can fully serve the noble purposes we identify. Many nations are conducting or planning lunar missions (ESA - SMART 1; Japan - Lunar A, SELENE; China - Chang'e; and India - Chandrayaan 1) that offer an opportunity for international cooperation fundamental for long-term public and private development and science. We strongly support the continued development of these missions. However, more knowledge is needed, requiring more complex capabilities than are now planned, including the first landings of spacecraft on the Moon since the Luna and Apollo programs of the 1960s and 1970s."
"During the International Lunar Conference 2003, we identified a number of main thrusts for an expanded lunar program: assessment and use of potential ice/water resources at the lunar poles for human use; development of energy resources for both Moon and Earth and establishment of lunar astrophysical observatories. We have concluded that, for the future development of the Moon, the deposits of hydrogen indicated by the USA Clementine and Lunar Prospector missions must be fully understood to confirm their nature and importance for future planetary exploration, development and human settlement."
"We recommend a sequence of technology, exploration and commercial missions on the road to this human Moon presence. We support the goals of a comprehensive series of missions including polar orbiters and landers, South Pole-Aitken Sample Return, Selene-B, Lunar Globe and [the European Space Agency's] Aurora lunar demonstrator. We advocate robotic engineering precursors for in-situ resource utilization and deployment of infrastructures preparing for human-tended operations."
"To encourage and stimulate the peaceful and progressive development of the Moon, we recommend that the international community of national space agencies, companies and individuals operate and maintain an exploratory mission at a pole of the Moon to serve as a catalyst for future human missions within a decade."
"Our vision is one of expanding humanity into space on an endless journey. We believe a human return to the Moon is the next step into the Solar System and the future of the human race," the declaration concludes.
I know what you mean.
It's cheaper, quicker and safer doing it ourselves.
"The moon can be made into a major asset, rather than just providing light at night," Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., chairman of the House subcommittee on space and aeronautics, said Thursday.
Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kansas, even talked about a space race between the United States and China, which put its first astronaut into space this fall.
Early reviews of the plan, reported Wednesday by the National Review magazine and Thursday by the New York Post, were mixed.
"Totally embarrassing," said physicist Robert Park of the American Physical Society. "Been there, done that."
"Great idea," said Roger Launius, a space historian at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. "If we are really going to get off this planet and go to a place like Mars, we've got to learn how to operate in deep space."
The debate over a moon program comes during a difficult time for the space agency, which has been excoriated for inefficiency and lack of focus since the space shuttle Columbia disaster in February.
The administration has been reviewing its space mission. On Wednesday, NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe said that 2004 would be a "seminal time. ... There's an effort underway that will focus the administration's view very prominently on options we can consider," he said. "We are looking at some significant changes." ***
I don't see anything sinister in it, in fact its a perfect way to "pay them back" without appearing to "pay them back"
Then why did we waste all this time and money on the stupid shuttle program? (Not badmouthing the astronauts...just the shuttle and its design and COST.)
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