Clear the Decks for February Fight To Keep President’s Moon-Mars Mission on Track
Jan. 27, 2020 (EIRNS)—A NASA Authorization bill for Fiscal Year 2020 has been introduced by the House Science Committee, which makes of President Donald Trump’s Artemis Moon-Mars mission, simply a Mars program, and would eliminate most of the lunar program. The Lunar Gateway would be changed to the Mars Gateway, and the lunar landing put back to NASA’s original date of 2028, which is described as an “interim goal” to the Mars landing in 2033.
The cut in the Moon mission fits with views consistently expressed last year by the Committee’s chair, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX); which in turn match those by Appropriations Subcommittee on Space chair Rep. José Serrano (D-NY): No to President Trump’s proposed fast-track program to return human beings to the Moon by 2024, and then develop lunar resources and capacities to launch to Mars. This while he fights an increasingly desperate Democratic impeachment coup.
Crucially, the bill, introduced by Rep. Kendra Horn (D-OK), who chairs the Committee’s space subcommittee, eliminates in situ resource utilization on the Moon; i.e., getting water from lunar ice—which was one of NASA’s reasons for going to the Moon—and restricts any development of a “continuously crewed lunar outpost or research station.”
The counter to the ill-conceived attempt to bypass the Moon is the full-scale development of its many resources, including helium-3, by the program developed by German-American space pioneer Krafft Ehricke in his book, Extraterrestrial Imperative, his short novel on travel to Mars, Expedition Ares, and The Seventh Continent: The Industrialization and Settlement of the Moon. This approach is being followed by Chinese scientists, and eloquently supported by geologist and Apollo astronaut Harrison Schmitt, who was on the 1972, last mission to the Moon. The goal of the Chinese lunar program is to integrate the resources, most notably helium-3, and industrial development of the Moon with the economy of the Earth; to make use of the unique features of the Moon, such as the “quiet” far side, for scientific studies, as for astronomy; and to be a test bed for the technologies needed for further deep space exploration.
The subcommittee is scheduled to mark up the bill on Jan. 29. Then the full committee will take up the bill, before it goes to the full House. A major battle must be waged in February for the entire four-year extra NASA funding (perhaps $25 billion over FY2021-24) to carry out the Project Artemis Moon-Mars mission as a crash program. The coup attempt against President Trump, now in its desperate and dragged-out impeachment phase, must be defeated now, to clear the decks for that fight.