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11/20/2018 / By David Williams
One way or another, humans are going back to the moon. Recently, U.S. President Donald Trump issued a new directive, instructing the National Aeronautics Space Agency (NASA) to start work on getting astronauts back out in space. Their first target, according to the directive, is the moon. After that, they should have their sights set on Mars, one of the two closest planets to Earth. And then perhaps consider reaching worlds beyond.
After seeing his directive, several scientists and experts weighed in with their own two cents. Many showed enthusiasm while some showed a kind of cautious optimism. There is no doubt that they all support the idea, which is no surprise considering that it will benefit all of humanity; and they’re not the only ones.
Elon Musk, serial entrepreneur and the founder of private space company SpaceX, has also chimed in. In his view, it truly is “high time that humanity went beyond Earth.” By that, he means that people from Earth should have already reached other planets by now, not just for exploration but for colonization. And for a start, the first target destination could be none other than the moon itself.
“Should have a moon base by now and sent astronauts to Mars,” said Musk. “The future needs to inspire.” Musk said all this in a tweet, in direct response to the NASA directive that was issued by President Trump.
If things could go Musk’s way, he would want NASA to follow President Trump’s goals to the letter. To be more specific, Trump’s directive first starts with mentioning that he aims to refocus America’s space program on human exploration and discovery. After all, before planning to visit actual planets, the agency must first make sure that they’ve got clear goals in mind.
“It marks an important step in returning American astronauts to the moon for the first time since 1972 for long-term exploration and use,” said President Trump, referring to the last time NASA sent astronauts to the moon with Apollo 17. “This time, we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprint. We will establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars and perhaps, someday, to many worlds beyond.”
If NASA’s experts succeed, and the President’s new directive does indeed result in humans getting back on the moon, it could be the start of a new era, in which humans have some kind of permanent residence on the orbiting body. This would tie in nicely with the future that Musk envisions.
According to Musk, it’s important to establish a moon base because it will help in accomplishing long-term space exploration and discovery goals. Back in 2017, he attended a presentation at the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia, during which he called for the colonization of the planet Mars. That’s exactly the kind of thing that can be possible if we had a permanent base on the moon.
“Having some permanent presence on another heavenly body, which would be the kind of moon base, and then getting people to Mars and beyond — that’s the continuance of the dream of Apollo that I think people are really looking for,” said Musk at a talk. This was during a discussion at the International Space Station Research and Development conference held in Washington D.C.
It’s going to take a while for NASA to finish working on actualizing all its space exploration and colonization plans, but with all of the support it’s getting so far both from the public as well as the private sector, don’t be surprised if they manage to do it sooner rather than later.
Get updates on the latest news on lunar and Martian space missions at Space.news.