Debating Manned Moon Missions

Experts provide opposing viewpoints on manned missions to space

The ATHLETE, one of NASA’s prototype vehicles recently tested at Moses Lake, Washington, is a six-legged robot, an all-terrain vehicle that sports wheels at the end of each limb that allow the robot to navigate as a rover. (NASA)
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There is nothing that has been learned on the space station or on the shuttle that has made any significant impact on any field of science. Nobody will contradict that. We are squandering all our money right now on these manned adventures that will avail us absolutely nothing. For the cost of a manned mission to the moon we can build a telescope that can study the atmospheres of distant planets.

The plan for extracting helium isotopes from the moon is almost funny. Cosmic rays striking the moon create nuclear reactions. As a result, you get helium isotopes that are rare on earth. But what do we want these isotopes for? We have never created one watt of energy by using those isotopes. Maybe we ought to do that first. To get usable quantities would have to create a huge mining operation that would process vast tons of moon soil in order to extract that stuff. The cost is staggering.

There's a huge lobby for manned space exploration. The space industry depends on it. Sending humans, because it's more expensive, is exactly what they want to do. The more money we spend the more they like it. So they look for the most expensive way to do it.


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