Following the success of Apollo 11 in 1969, there have been ongoing debates about returning to the moon, but recent discoveries indicate that a second moon mission would be the logical next step in the American space voyage.
A brief history of the moon mission controversy:
In 2004, President George W. Bush requested that NASA—the National Aeronautics and Space Administration—create a program tasked with making a return trip to the moon.
In 2005, NASA obliged with the creation of the Constellation Program.
In April of 2010, President Obama said “we’ve been there before,” and that NASA should focus on reaching new heights by setting their sights on Mars.
Six months after his statement, Obama signed the NASA Authorization Act of 2010, which put an end to the Constellation Program.
In September of this year, the White House publicly announced President Trump’s nomination to serve as the Administrator of NASA. Trump chose Ohio Congressman Jim Bridenstine, who believes that “the moon is the path” to being the “pre-eminent spacefaring nation.”
We choose to go to the moon:
One year before President Obama ended the Constellation Program, NASA’s radar imaging satellite, Mini-SAR, discovered 1.3 trillion pounds of ice on the moon’s surface. That’s science talk for “America has more incentive than ever before to pursue a second lunar mission.”
With an administration eager to return to the moon, the possibility could finally become reality.
Obviously, we want to go farther than the moon.
Mars would be the ideal next step, but we don’t yet have the capability of sending a manned spacecraft to Mars, and it’ll likely be quite a while before we do.
What if there was a way to fast-track a Mars mission? What if we didn’t have to send the spacecraft directly to Mars?
Bridging the gap between Earth and Mars:
The easier we can make our journey to Mars, the sooner we’ll be able to get there.
Mars is approximately 34 million miles away from Earth. Stopping at the moon to refuel before continuing on to Mars would save around 240,000 miles of fuel.
At first, 240,000 miles of fuel may not seem like a lot compared to 34 million, but once you start thinking about the kind of gas mileage a spacecraft gets, it adds up.
Here is where the 1.3 trillion pounds of ice on the moon’s northern pole come into play.
Utilizing the moon’s water to reduce cost to Mars:
If we want the moon to be capable of refueling a spacecraft, we’ll need to send a team there to build a refueling station.
Typically, when NASA sends a group of people into space for a prolonged period of time, they like to send some food and water with them, but sending enough food and water to feed a group of people in outer space for several years (not very surprisingly) ends up costing a lot of money.
Now, imagine that the place we’re sending our astronauts was found to already contain a wealth of water in the form of ice. Wouldn’t that make a mission so much easier and more cost-effective?
If we utilize the ice found on the moon, we can drive down the cost of space exploration.
This will make future missions more affordable, and a Mars mission more attainable.
A second lunar mission would pave the way to putting mankind on Mars.
The moon is the obvious next step in American space exploration.
In the iconic words of American Astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Amalia is a freshman political science major from Crown Point, Indiana.