Space Scientists Oppose House Bill That Eliminates Moon Colonization Program
Feb. 3, 2020 (EIRNS)—On Jan. 31 an open letter by more than a dozen prominent space scientists was sent to the House Science, Space Technology Committee leadership, opposing the misguided H.R.5666 National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2020 that virtually eliminates the lunar program, calling for a focus only on Mars.
The open letter from “Concerned Scientists” states that a Mars program without the lunar missions greatly increases the physical risk to Mars flight, and that the bill’s limiting the lunar program to “a small number of sortie missions ... has been written with the false perspective that the Moon has no inherent value as a destination.” It continues, “the Moon is an enabling asset,” that will “expand the economic sphere of the United States and our international partners.”
While on the mark in terms of the stupidity of the bill, on various levels, there is a misunderstanding and misdirection in terms of what the authors propose. This is indicated by their statement that, “As was shown by the Apollo program, a wholly taxpayer-funded human spaceflight program is not sustainable.” In fact, the only aspect of Apollo that was not “sustainable” was that it did not win the political fight against the British-led forces determined to end the manned space program. The scientists propose that the lunar program be conducted, instead of by federal funding—and hence government policymaking—by the private sector.
Much of the hardware, including the stages of the massive Saturn V rocket, was built by private industry in the 1960s. But NASA paid for the vehicle, and the American people owned it. The $10-14 estimated “return on investment” for each dollar spent on the Apollo program, is a measure of the increase in productivity in the American economy from technology “spin-offs” from Apollo, spin-offs that we continue to enjoy. By and large, private companies with some “skin in the game, investing some of their own funds, through the public-private partnerships, are not obliged to share technological innovations.
Both physical economist Lyndon LaRouche and space visionary Krafft Ehricke put forward models for a national human exploration/colonization program for the Moon and Mars, in which the government would take responsibility for infrastructure. Then, smaller, innovative, younger space firms would have the platform from which breakthroughs could be made.
The full text of the Concerned Scientists’ letter is available on SpaceRef.