Sending an American Astronaut Back to the Moon
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Never before have so many people been attuned to one event at one time. Millions of people from all across the globe surrounded TV sets and radios to watch and listen in on as the first Earthling took the first steps on the Moon (Nolan). It was on this day in July 1969 that would change the way the world would look at space exploration. New frontiers for mankind opened up and waves of new information came roaring in. Since then, in the span of only three years, six American Flags have been planted into the powdered crust of the moon. It was in 1972, forty years ago, that man took their last steps on Luna’s desolate snow-white surface (Shepard10). The moon is a symbol of the future of space exploration and of one of the greatest achievements humanity has ever had. It is seen by everyone at night that looks up in the sky. There are still many pressing unanswered scientific questions about our nearest space neighbor (Moskowitz) which is why America needs to go back! America should send man back to the Moon because of important science inquires, to collect important lunar resources that could help people back here on Earth, and to create a stepping stone for further space exploration.
In the years since the first men walked on the Moon, America has literally only the scratch the surface. Orbiting satellites have shown that its surface contains hidden reserves of water. If man were sent back to the Moon, they could study this water and learn more about how the moon was created (Moskowitz). Each of the six brief visits to the Moon, all the Apollo missions landed near the equator (Shepard 11). With other discoveries from satellites, scientists have found new places to explore, such as Polar Regions. Since the Moon has an absence of a dynamic surface or active volcanism, it enables the Moon to preserve a history of all its impacts from space rocks. These impacts can explain the age long questions of the history of our solar system. On Earth alone we cannot get the answers to these question because the planet is constantly changing and covering the records of its past, making them hard to get to. Some scientists even believe that to understand and reveal the history of Earth they must study the history of the Moon (Moskowitz). Not only is exploring the Moon an important reason why America should return but also because the Moon has useful resources all throughout it.
Some say, astronauts could mine the lunar surface for commodities useful not just for building lunar colonies but for life on Earth (Moskowitz). The Moon has resources for exploration, and some resources that scientists need here on Earth, such as Helium-3. Helium-3 is an isotope that is very rare to find here on Earth but extremely common in the top layers of lunar dirt. This could then be used for nuclear fusion research, and many hope it could be converted into rocket fuel (Bodden 13). Other elements such as silicon, aluminum, titanium, and many other earth metals are rich among the Moon’s surface. These raw materials would be used for solar cells and structures. For instance, silicon on the Moon could be mined to build solar panels for energy sources (Moskowitz). The recent discovery of water on the Moon is the biggest game-changer yet. Water has been found in massive amounts at the poles of the Moon. This would be the key factor into making a life-sustaining habitat on the Moon. It could be used for drinking, it could be used to be broken down into hydrogen and oxygen to create breathable air, and it can even be converted into rocket fuel (Bodden 15). With all these resources available to use, the American people should return to the Moon to use it as the stepping stones for further space exploration.
In today’s time, the question about traveling to Mars is not about a “should” but a “when?” The Moon is the perfect ground to get America’s feet wet for Mars. In a mission to Mars, it only would make sense to use the Moon as a check point to refuel and gather more supplies needed for the trip, it is the logical first destination. Besides using the Moon as a refueling spot, scientists could also use the Moon as a testing and staging ground for the missions to Mars or even other parts of the solar system. NASA could practice for the Mars flight by building habitats on the lunar surface and developing skills there to utilize lunar resources, like water.
That would improve the prospects for a livable and sustainable stay on Mars. If America decided to go directly to Mars from Earth and make it there just barely this could end up in history repeating itself. Astronauts would arrive on Mars and plant Old Glory in the red crust and say that the American people did it, and everyone would thrive off that high for 40 something years, and the argument of should we return or not will lurk back into play just like with the Moon now. As said by Jack Schmitt, who was the last NASA astronaut to walk on the moon, without the experience of returning to the Moon, America will not have the engineering, operational, or physiological insight for how to either fly to Mars or land there (Moskowitz).
America has fallen behind in the space race (Shepard 20). It has been forty long years of gazing into the starry night looking up at the Moon wondering what else awaits and when will America take the steps again to resume an active space program to send man back to the Moon. Ultimately, the Moon may represent the best chance humanity has of establishing a foothold in space (Moskowitz). It is the gateway to new frontiers. This is a country of the brave, where the people stand up and strive to find the hard challenges in life and avoid the easy roads. America should send man back to the Moon because of important science inquires, to collect important lunar resources that could help people back here on Earth, and to create a stepping stone for further space exploration. No one said it would be an easy thing to do, President John F. Kennedy would agree, but it will be worth it in the end for all of America and mankind as a whole.
Bodden, Valerie. To the Moon. Mankato, MN: Creative Education, 2012. Print. A book
explaining the first trips to the Moon and what the Moon has to offer to the world. Moskowitz, Clara. “The Case for the Moon: Why We Should Go Back Now.” Space.com. N.p., 10 Jan. 2011. Web. 26 July 2013. An online article on why we should return to the Moon with opinions by scientist and astronauts. Nolan, Clifford. Personal Interview. 26 July 2013. An interview of a first-hand account of what it
was like to the average person watching when they first took steps on the Moon. Shepard, Alan B., Donald K. Slayton, Jay Barbree, and Neil Armstrong. Moon Shot: The inside Story of America’s Apollo Moon Landings. New York, NY: Open Road Integrated Media, 2011. Print. A book explaining, in detail, all the Apollo moon landings.