Sunday, November 16, 2008

A new blog location at Air and Space magazine

Apparently, they liked my dispatches from India during the launch of Chandrayaan-1 last month, so Air & Space Magazine has asked me to post to a new blog at their web site. The new blog is called:

The Once and Future Moon

and will consist of miscellaneous pieces describing ongoing lunar exploration, the return to the Moon, space policy and a few other things as my interest wanders.

In addition, my personal web site contains many papers, presentations, images and maps dealing with the Moon and lunar return. Please go here:

Spudis Lunar Resources

Please check out the new blog and drop by the web site too!

Monday, October 27, 2008

India Aims for the Moon

Just returned from India to attend the launch of Chandrayaan-1. While there, I was blogging the launch activities for the Smithsonian Air and Space magazine.

The original posts can be found HERE. This should be up for the next few weeks. I have also posted a PDF of my blog pieces at the main web site HERE.

Great trip! The launch was spectacular. Now comes the hard work of exploring the Moon.

Friday, July 25, 2008

“Been there, done that” -- Space Policy Ipecac

The first NASA Lunar Science Conference is now concluded. On the first day of the meeting, Carle Pieters (Brown University) gave a talk summarizing the NRC report on the Scientific Context for the Exploration of the Moon. Although a straightforward summary, Carle used the phrase “Apollo was exciting... but been there done that” during her talk. Note well: she does not subscribe to this view, but it was picked up by the press and trumpeted in a wire story.

This phrase is not only offensive to the ears of working lunar scientists, it’s flat wrong in regard to a return to the Moon under the Vision for Space Exploration. During my talk immediately following Carle’s, I attempted (once again) to review exactly what the Vision means and why it was laid out the way it was (presentation posted here). I think that the fundamental problem comes from the idea that the VSE is “Apollo on steroids” or in fact, any reincarnation of Apollo at all.

If the mission of lunar return were to conduct Apollo-type sortie missions focused on lunar science, it would indeed have an “Apollo Redivivus” flavor. In fact, we are NOT going back to the Moon to fill in the blank pages in the notebooks of lunar scientists. As clearly laid out in the Vision for Space Exploration founding policy documents, the aim of a return to the Moon is to learn the skills we need to live on other worlds. Foremost among these skills is using the material and energy resources of the Moon to create new spacefaring capability. I cannot imagine a mission statement more antithetical to the trite and dismissive “Been there, done that.”

Of course, no one knows if using space resources is even possible. That’s exactly why it’s such an interesting mission – we don’t know the answer ahead of time. NASA’s job is not to industrialize the Moon – it’s to find out if the Moon can be industrialized. Such a challenge has never been attempted by any nation or entity, but it is a skill that we must master if we are ever to become a true spacefaring (and space-inhabiting) species.