Space may not be humanity's Final Frontier, but it certainly is one of the most important aspects for our societies' survival. And with the recent spate of bad press NASA has received lately, the time is ripe for criticism.
Why should our government spend all that money out there anyway? Wouldn't it be much more beneficial to scrap the space program altogether and re-direct these dollars towards social programs? Billions of dollars spent on the Apollo program just for several hundred pounds of rocks!
These questions and concerns have be around since the space age began 38 years ago with the launch of sputnik. And for many liberally minded, socially active people, they may sound like real concerns. The real fact of the matter is that these concerns are totally irrelevant and irresponsible, both socially and environmentally!
The main concern, money spent, reached its peak in the late 60s and early 70s during the Apollo Moon Program. At that time about two cents of your tax dollar was going towards NASA and all non-military space research. At the same time, 75 cents was going into the military for Vietnam related projects. Since then, the NASA budget has dropped below a half a penny, while the military is at 60 cents. And they wondered why we've had so much trouble with the shuttle - it has been under-funded from day one!
As for those hundreds of pounds of Moon rock: We now know what makes up the crust of our nearest planet. Oxygen, Aluminum, titanium and many more useful elements that can be used by our society. Mining the Moon makes a helluvalot more sense than mining the Earth.
The bottom line is that to raise the standards of living of the worlds billions to that of the United States requires almost unlimited energy and material resources. But the Earth itself has very limited capacity for the industrial growth required to feed and clothe our planet's population.
And the surface of the Earth is not a good choice for most industrial processes. There is a highly corrosive atmosphere to deal with, unreliable energy, not to mention gravity. The Earth is for growing life, not making steel.
Truly concerned environmentalists should be supporting the space program and encouraging the movement of industry and energy production off the planet, into space where it belongs. In space there is virtually unlimited energy and materials. 24 hour sunlight for electricity; the Moon, planets and asteroids for materials. And a perfect vacuum with negligible gravity. This allows for finer control of the production of items as diverse as electronic crystals to refined medicinal concoctions, not to mention stuff we simply can't make on the Earth, like foam steel or lead/aluminum alloys.
And most important, we can leave the Earth alone. Because if its cheaper to mine the Moon, they won't mine the Earth! So next time one of your do-gooder new age environmentalist friends starts putting down the space program, tell them to BITE ROOT!
If only they can grow trees in space . . .
Next: Trees In Space
Do feel free to duplicate and disseminate the above file as long as it is not modified in any manner or any fee is charged for it. The material contained within may well be considered bull by many, blasphemous by some or a great idea for a science fiction story by others. But regardless, it remains my intellectual property and should not be duplicated without my permission except as outlined above.© 1986 by R. D. Frederick
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