HOPES HIGH THAT NASA AND OTHERS MAY RETURN TO THE MOON – 44 YEARS LATER –
It’s been 44 years since the last human footprint was left on the moon. Now space agencies and private companies are jostling for an opportunity to establish a base there and send tourists over for a bit of sightseeing; with a little luck, some mining of the surface may also be done.
Some experts are confident that man will not only return to the moon but most likely also use it as a base for refuelling rockets to send people to Mars. Professor Andrew Dempster, Director of the Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research, says the reasons for going to the moon have evolved from the cold war to economic ones, and he believes the next people to go to the Moon won’t be national space agencies but tourists.
Some ambitious private companies like SpaceX have already taken the first steps to shuttle tourists around the Moon (without landing) next year; in fact, two people have already paid for the trip, according to the company’s CEO, Elon Musk.
Prof. Cox believes that people will have one day mine the Moon, asteroids and eventually Mars.
Mining is an attractive proposition not for purposes of bringing minerals back to earth, but to utilise the resource in space – for helping build a base or to refuel rockets.
This dream could have been achieved a lot sooner had NASA’s Constellation program not been cancelled by President Obama. However, that could change with the entry of a new president who has already shown positive signs by penning a new NASA funding bill worth $US19.5 billion.