Wednesday, December 14, 2011

39 Years (and counting)

December 14, 1972. Geologist Dr. Harrison "Jack" Schmitt, the only professional scientist to visit another planet, swaps poses with Apollo 17 commander Capt. Gene Cernan following completion of their third and final EVA, exploring Taurus Littrow. It was the last Apollo moonwalk and the end of a breathtakingly successful sixth manned expedition to the lunar surface. When humans may resume this sorely needed activity is no more certain now than it was when, with little ceremony, Cernan climbed back into Challenger to prepare for lift-off. They were ahead of their time, they made it look easy, and the success of such a program at such a time arose from determined political will that was a product of events both wonderful and tragic. But regardless how history coldly credits events, unique and common, for Apollo, today we are without excuse. There is no retreat from tomorrow, and it's long past time to resume this inevitable enterprise, if only for the simple reason that our understanding of our Earth will never be complete without a proper exploration of Earth's Moon, our "deep water access" to the truly endless sea beyond [NASA/ASJ/].

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