Thursday, February 26, 2009

Should ignorance be answered or ignored?

Jerry DeGroot, author of Dark Side of the Moon: The Magnificent Madness of the American Lunar Quest has taken immediate advantage of the loss of the CO2 monitoring satellite, which failed after launch from Vandenberg early Wednesday, to pump up publicity for a new book expressing contempt for lunar exploration, calling it a form of madness and describing the Moon as a "worthless rock."

If you're interested, you can read his commentary, and perhaps leave your own by way of the Telegraph, HERE.

Frankly, I'm not at all certain I wish to have this argument any longer. Many of us have been answering these same complaints for forty years. In the years since Clementine, Lunar Prospector, until today, when three nations are orbiting enduring lunar orbiters and we anxiously await our LRO-LCROSS, it is likely we have learned more about the Moon than at anytime since the years immediately after the Apollo Era.

At the heart of the argument is the old saw of Zero-Sum theory, one that doesn't hold water anymore, even if you do believe in that discredited economic model. Apparently, we are to wait until the Federation of Planets and Starfleet are firmly established, and hunger is eradicated, in short all the ills of mankind, whether chosen or not, are cured forever before space exploration, development or travel can become the luxury DeGroot believes it to be.

The time has come for those who have come to understand dimly or starkly the essential place of our Moon to our future as a species, who have read and understood the National Academies' Scientific Context for the Exploration of the Moon (2007), to speak out loud and confidently against ridiculous views like those of DeGroot.

For me, whether NASA is funded in this area or not, the Moon is the Rosetta Stone of the Solar System and at least as worthy of study as Antarctica, for example. Survival there is essential to survival further down the line, past my lifetime, and I intend to get there, or to, at the very least, study her and try to understand her, for the sake of helping others get there, with or without NASA.

DeGroot's opinions about NASA are well and good, but commercial space development will one day take us beyond where it is today as it has from where it was in the recent past. India, China, Japan, Russia, the ESA and Dr. Harrison Schmitt and colleagues at the University of Wisconsin have not been shy about how the world economy can grow here and everywhere in the world using resources from the Moon.

Beyond endangering NASA's present, methodical long-term planning, allowing his opinion to go without challenge can endanger Open Skies.

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