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The Moon is Again Within Reach – Let’s Grab (and Hold On To) It

1 Jun 2016, 10:52 UTC
The Moon is Again Within Reach – Let’s Grab (and Hold On To) It
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Captivated by the Moon 47 years ago. Are we due for a repeat? (Mad Men/AMC)
A recent political development (along with various and sundry news reports and a couple of anniversaries) indicates a renewed interest in the Moon as a destination. This hodgepodge includes: specific funding and program direction by the U.S. House of Representatives in their 2017 NASA appropriations bill, news stories about Russian and Chinese lunar missions supposedly to be flown in the near future, and a piece on President Kennedy and the Apollo program (last Wednesday, May 25, was the 55th anniversary of Kennedy’s special appropriations speech to Congress, asking for the lunar landing goal). Under ordinary circumstances, these disparate threads might be random noise, but taken together, they may signal a possible “new” direction for our civil space program.
The most significant event is the new House appropriations bill, which not only terminates work on the absurd Asteroid Retrieval Mission (“no funds are included in this bill for NASA to continue planning efforts to conduct either robotic or crewed missions to an asteroid”) but specifically directs NASA instead to “develop plans to return to the Moon to test capabilities that will be needed for Mars, including ...

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