Well, the impact studies of the LCROSS spacecraft really did find water on the moon…lots of it. So that means we might not have to carry so much of it up there with us when we go. But did it really have an impact on folks here at home?
The logistics of extracting and recycling that water is expensive and troublesome. I know it has to be done—it’s better than lifting water from here—but the focus is still on getting there, not on why. Earth has plenty of water.
So why would we want to send someone there to spend so much time that indigenous water is useful?
Yes, I think that manned space exploration, in and of itself, has its own benefits. And, yes, it was me that blogged earlier this week about spinoff technologies, but I am only one person. We need something sexy, something compelling…an export industry that makes lots of folks get really, really, excited about space travel.
King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella didn’t fund the Columbus mission across the ocean “‘Cause it’d be soooo cool”. They were interested in things like gold, spices, silks, etc. NASA is so geekily focused on how to get back to the moon, they haven’t been talking loudly enough about the bread-and-butter reasons why we should.
What about Helium-3? There had to be some in that plume where they found water, I’m fairly certain we would be able to see it in a spectrographic analysis of the impact. Was it there? Did NASA even look for some?
What about a moon based space telescope? You can’t man a space telescope that just floats freely in space, because people on board would cause too much vibration. I know NASA talks about that, but it’s not in the news—at least not as boldly as when they yell “Hey! We found water!”
What about…I don’t know, there’s gotta be something. Something to compare to the gold, spices, silks, and furs of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, or the medical or micro-computer industries of the twentieth century. What we need is a proposal for a rich export industry that the folks who get to stay home on Earth can sink their teeth into, something to silence the critics and get more than just us fellow space geeks excited about going. Something that lets the rest of the public know what we space geeks already know—that they won’t get soaked.