Schmitt's comments have sparked dialogue and he's not the only one that feels the way he does about the Planetary Society's position. This will be updated as I see more responses.
Here is the text below:
I wholeheartedly agree with Harrison's views in this matter. Attempting
to bypass Luna on the way to Mars is a mistake. There are several
1. Luna is interesting and valuable by itself. No matter how much more
interesting and valuable Mars maybe, the fact remains that Luna is the
best place in the Solar System to study the System's formation; it's an
abundant source of high-value metals such as titanium and aluminium; is
also an abundant source of helium-3, the best known fuel for nuclear
fusion; will be a preferable tourist destination for most Earthlings,
tourism already having been identified as the industry most likely to
initiate and drive a space colonisation effort; and will be the perfect
place to set up large deep space telescope arrays.
2. Practice for Mars. You don't sail to the Americas using brand-new
untested technology when you haven't even been to Ireland. Luna is the
perfect place to test a wide range of colonisation technologies before
taking them to Mars, with the distinctly significant advantage that if
anything goes wrong, the astronauts will be only a couple of days from
Earth and not 6-9 months. On Luna we will need technology for
non-fossil-fuel energy production; water mining, recycling and
purificiation; air production and recycling; production of steel, glass,
cement and other materials; dust mitigation; environment control; food
production; transportation; communications; etc., etc. While there will
be variations between the equipment developed for the two worlds, many
of the same problems exist, and developing the tools for Luna first will
be a much safer approach and will save time and decrease risk when we do
go to Mars. Apollo is the most successful space mission ever, yet the
first 10 missions did not descend to the lunar surface; their function
was to test every aspect of the technology and the mission before
putting it all together. We need to take the same safe, step-by-step
approach when colonising Mars.
To bypass Luna is short-sighted, impatient and dangerous.
shares many of the same views and vision for future space exploration. It is unfortunate
the society has lost focus, but I am glad Dr. Schmitt brought these issues to light.
Xxx X. Xxxx
UHH Geology graduate
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