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18 November 2008

Responses to Schmitt's Email to The Planetary Society

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.

  • I wrote a reply on this page

    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
    reasons why:

    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.

  • I too will no longer support the Planetary Society. Like Schmitt, I am also Geologist who
    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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