We Must Choose To Return to the Moon and Do the Other Things

“We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too”.

“Many years ago the great British explorer George Mallory, who was to die on Mount Everest, was asked why did he want to climb it. He said, “Because it is there”.

“Well, space is there, and we’re going to climb it, and the moon and the planets are there, and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there. And, therefore, as we set sail we ask God’s blessing on the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked”.

President John F. Kennedy at Rice University, September 12th, 1962

Forty-five years ago president John Fitzgerald Kennedy affirmed our nation’s commitment to putting a man on the Moon before the end of the 1960s in the most stirring and inspiring speech ever given by any American president concerning our national space goals. In his “We Choose to go to the Moon” speech he asserted the need for the United States to lay claim to a firm leadership position in the new frontier of space and that the U.S. should “do it right and do it first before this decade is out.” The young American president linked our nation’s commitment to the exploration of space to our long term national political and strategic goals during our Cold War battle against the forces of international communism.

Four and a half decades later we must reassess and reaffirm this nation’s commitment to the high frontier of space and link that commitment to the present political realities we face as a nation in the post 9/11 world. Our present national space objectives must reflect and address our current short and long range national security concerns. And, in order to do this we must choose to return to the Moon and do the other things and state clearly what those other things are precisely.

Yes space is there, the Moon and the planets are still there but, we as a nation are not quite out there yet. Our national space goals should be directed towards forging a spacefaring nation clearly committed to not just getting there but, maintaining a permanent human presence there, and stating concretely why we must be first.

The Cold War is not quite over yet. As a nation we face new adversaries and with some of our old adversaries old habits die hard. Communism and tyranny have not gone away and we face many new dangers in this new millennium. Our national space program must address these dangers and help us attain new long term national and economic security objectives.

We can no longer remain a nation held captive by our political and ideological foes by solely relying on strategic mineral and energy resources controlled by nations and despotic regimes that neither share our democratic values nor our love for individual human liberty. A common definition of a strategic mineral is a mineral that would be needed to supply the military, industrial, and essential civilian needs of the United States during a national emergency. Furthermore, they are not found or produced in the United States in sufficient quantities to meet this need. We can no longer allow ourselves to remain bound by this status quo.

Nor should we relinquish nor endanger our leadership as defenders of the free world by making political and diplomatic compromises with these same nations. And, neither should we allow ourselves to be forced to engage in reckless military actions that would compel other nations to question our real commitment to democratic values throughout the rest of the world in order to secure our hold on these resources.

Our nation must commit itself to a long term program of energy independence and give up its debilitating addiction to Mid-eastern oil and its dependency on strategic minerals located in the most politically unstable and volatile regions of the World.

A crucial first step in meeting these objectives is to embark and commit our nation to a long term space program with the clear objective of developing the mineral and energy resources of cis-lunar space. And, by choosing to return to the Moon we will have taken the first step in attaining these goals. We must focus our efforts towards utilising the mineral resources of the moon and near earth asteroids, exploiting space based solar power and committing our nation to the settlement of space. Only such a long term roadmap can ensure the security of our nation and its allies. In the words of John Fitzgerald Kennedy:

“The exploration of space will go ahead, whether we join in it or not, and it is one of the great adventures of all time, and no nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in the race for space.

Those who came before us made certain that this country rode the first waves of the industrial revolutions, the first waves of modern invention, and the first wave of nuclear power, and this generation does not intend to founder in the backwash of the coming age of space. We mean to be a part of it–we mean to lead it. For the eyes of the world now look into space, to the moon and to the planets beyond, and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace. We have vowed that we shall not see space filled with weapons of mass destruction, but with instruments of knowledge and understanding.

Yet the vows of this Nation can only be fulfilled if we in this Nation are first, and, therefore, we intend to be first. In short, our leadership in science and in industry, our hopes for peace and security, our obligations to ourselves as well as others, all require us to make this effort, to solve these mysteries, to solve them for the good of all men, and to become the world’s leading space-faring nation”.

Kennedy saw, as few political leaders have before or since, that our leadership in the high frontier of space is very much linked to our leadership as defenders of the free world. We as a people must make our political leadership understand this and state clearly that as Americans we can not allow our nation to flounder in the backwash of history. Neither should our ideas of individual freedom and free enterprise be left behind on Earth to decay and wither in the face of global tyranny by allowing other nations to go in our stead. It is up to our generation to ensure that our most cherished values be taken to the stars where they can continue to flourish. This can be made so only by avowing ourselves to the goal, before this decade is out, that the United States remains first and foremost amongst spacefaring nations.

6 Responses to “We Must Choose To Return to the Moon and Do the Other Things”

  1. 1 Ralph Buttigieg September 12, 2007 at 11:07 am

    G’day Alex,I’m not an American citizen, so have no useful opinion on what you say, but what practical programs do you think the USA should undertake to maintain Space leadership? taRalph

  2. 2 Alex Michael Bonnici September 12, 2007 at 5:28 pm

    Hello Ralph, I think the United States should actively pursue the development of a reusable launch vehicle to replace the space shuttle (either single stage to orbit or a two stage configuration). We should also actively pursue the development and utilization of extraterrestrial mineral resources on the Moon and Near Earth Objects. I also think we should also have a pilot program set up within the next ten years to explore the full potential of space based solar power to supply domestic and industrial demands on Earth. These are just a few of my proposals which I will highlight and explain in detail in my next posting. By the way I always value your opinion Ralph. You are a fellow citizen of the free world.Alex

  3. 3 Ralph Buttigieg September 13, 2007 at 12:21 pm

    G’day,When you say United States who are you actually referring too? NASA, DoD? the private sector? The last time NASA tried to develop a RLV was the X-33 project. That was a complete flop.taRalph

  4. 4 Alex Michael Bonnici September 13, 2007 at 8:56 pm

    Hello Once Again, My choice would be the private sector in partnership with the DOD. The DOD was very quick to go ahead with the development and deployment of the Clementine Mission and DC-X single stage to orbit test vehicle. The DOD proved the faster, better, and cheaper ethos better than NASA ever did.Alex

  5. 5 Alex Michael Bonnici September 13, 2007 at 9:41 pm

    Hello Yet Again Ralph, I would like to refer do you an earlier article I posted on Wednesday, July 18, 2007 entitled “We must colonize space to survive and grow”. In it I mentioned proposals made by Space Study Institute’s director Dr. Lee Valentine and the late by Dr. Gerard K. O’Neill (author of The High Frontier).http://discoveryenterprise.blogspot.com/2007/07/we-must-colonize-space-to-survive-and.htmlO’Neill’s article “The World’s Energy Future Belongs in Space” and Valentine’s article “A Space Roadmap: Mine the Sky, Defend the Earth, Settle the Universe”.As I have said earlier their proposals “can guarantee our long term survival on this planet and a permanent human presence in space which is economical sustainable and politically justifiable”. I would also like to add that their proposals will also provide the corner stone to create a space program fully geared to help the United States and the Free World confront and meet the challenges of the political, economic, environmental and strategic realities of the 21st century. Let me reiterate: “Our nation must commit itself to a long term program of energy independence and give up its debilitating addiction to Mid-eastern oil and its dependency on strategic minerals located in the most politically unstable and volatile regions of the World”. This also applies to much of Western Europe, Japan, and the rest of the Western World. Best Regards, Alex

  6. 6 spaceartuk February 6, 2008 at 9:01 am

    The one really really valuable thing the US could do is ensure that following Presidents to do not delay, frustrate or scrap plans made for space by their predecessors; eg, as Barrack Obama has said he would delay Constellation by 5 years, which would cause huge problems for NASA’s future plans.

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