Friday, May 24, 2019

Is going back to the moon worth it?

Before we get into this I don’t want anyone thinking I’m a space curmudgeon. I loved Star Trek. (Star Wars, not so much.) I think space exploration is exciting. I’m old enough to remember when we landed on the moon. You’d be amazed at how many people are alive today who weren’t even born the last time we went to the moon in 1972. Now it’s been revealed through a leak of documents that NASA plans to build a permanent base on the moon and launch 37 rockets there, all by 2024. My question is, is it worth it?

Not just going back to the moon. Is the space program itself worth the money? First of all, good luck finding out how much we’ve spent on the space program. There are thousands of articles on it. Maybe hundreds of thousands. I couldn’t find one that told me how much we’ve spent on the space program since Project Mercury in 1958. It looks like that would be an easy number to quantify. Maybe they don’t want us to know. Suffice it to say it’s in the hundreds of billions, perhaps trillions.

Has it all been worth it?

Talk to space proponents and they’ll tell you yes. They’ll tell you that we discovered all sorts of beneficial things because of the space program. And not just Tang and a pen that writes upside down. Things like LEDs and infrared ear thermometers. Artificial limbs and improved radial tires. Memory foam and enriched baby food. Cordless vacuums and freeze drying technology. That’s all true, but again I ask. Has it all been worth it?

I guess the bigger question is what is our end goal with space? Is it to militarize it? Is it to colonize it? Or is it just to ride around and see what’s out there? NASA has a mind to colonize the moon. This sounds all futuristic and everything, but is it practical? I mean, who really wants to live on the moon? Oh, plenty of people say they do, but do they really? When push comes to shove will they board a spaceship and banish themselves to that lonely rock in the sky? I doubt it.

Why would they want to? Some will tell you we’re running out of space here on Earth and we have to explore the possibility of colonizing another world. We are a very long way from being full here on Earth. You could give every family of four 4,300 square feet to live in and fit the whole world’s population in Texas. I gave that stat out on the air one time and a guy called in and asked, “Why would we want to do that?” It’s just for illustration purposes. Imagine that. Everybody in the world fits in Texas and you have the rest of the world that’s still empty. Think we’re running out of room? Not even close.

So why this obsession with colonizing the moon? You want my opinion? Too much sci-fi. It’s somehow romantic to think about living somewhere else besides Earth. But it’s not practical, nor is it even remotely necessary.

Does that mean we shouldn’t have a space program? No. It means we should prioritize. We should spend our limited resources wisely. There’s really no reason to go back to the moon. Been there, done that. There’s certainly no benefit in colonizing the moon. Unless, of course, we’re going to send all these people who are obsessed with colonizing the moon. Then the rest of us can spend our tax dollars on some things we actually need.

Phil Valentine is the host of the award-winning talk radio show, 
The Phil Valentine Show on SuperTalk 99.7WTN in Nashville. He's also co-host of The PodGOATs podcast.

1 comment:

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