July 20, 2019

Apollo at 50: No, we DO NOT need to return

Manned missions to the moon did make science discoveries that robotic landers couldn't have, 50 years ago, tis true. And the tech for manned missions, while not inventing Tang or Velcro, did benefit human life on earth in other ways.

And, it WAS fun seeing men on the moon. I vaguely remember Apollo 11 myself. I remember later ones even more. And I have met the second-last (to date) man to walk on the moon, Harrison Schmitt of Apollo 17.

But, 50 years later?

First, there are NO earthshaking (moonshaking?) scientific discoveries to be made. Lesser discoveries can be made fine by unmanned vehicles.

Second, there are no mining needs that we have on the moon. Metals can be mined here on earth for much cheaper, after you throw in the lunar transportation overhead, etc.

As for helium 3? We are still decades away from the commercial fusion power plants that have been "just around the corner" since ... well, since the time Neal Armstrong took his small step and giant leap.

Patriotism?

Absolutely not.

Apollo itself was dick-swinging enough. If "we" go back to the moon, it should be "we" the world.

Otherwise, we don't need to waste gummint money on this.

If Elon Musk or some private-sector dick-swinger wants to put men on the Moon, let alone Mars, and with ZERO direct or indirect government help, be my guest. And I mean ZERO both direct and indirect. If he plans an ocean splashdown, he can hire private ships for the astronaut pickup. Private helicopters for a land based return.

We also, contra Stephen Hawking before his death and many others, do NOT need to embrace landing on Mars as a way of escaping environmental problems on Earth, including not trying to escape climate change. Such an attitude almost insures that we'll just have import the same problem-causing mindset there. It's also elitist as, per Dr. Strangelove, no way everybody on this planet or even close to it can go.

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