Why go to the moon?

Think back to what the world was like 500 years ago. Going from Europe to North America took months. The world seemed like a huge place. In fact, it seemed to be the entire universe.

Today people travel this distance in just a few hours and do so by the millions on a regular basis. There earth seems much, much smaller today. Especially now that we know that the earth is one of many planets. Astronomers have found so many planets around other stars that they now believe that pretty much every star has a planet. We have learned that the earth represents just a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of the universe. It is even quite small compared to just the rest of the solar system. Earth’s moon, Mars, the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, and the asteroids and comets all represent mysteries to unravel, resources to use, and places that will eventually be part of our world.

Imagine now that you come back 500 years in the future. What is the state of humanity. Are we still contained to earth? Are we still waiting for everything to be perfect before we move out into the solar system? Has a meteor hit the earth and destroyed us all? Or have we learned to use the resources of the solar system. Are we exploring and learning more? Have stories from the frontier between civilization and nature enriched our existence as stories from previous frontiers did?

I vote for us branching out. We can either be inwardly focused. We can either be racing and struggling against each other or we can be outwardly focused. And together we can struggle against the universe. Pushing civilization further and further out into the cosmos.

And if we are to branchout, we must begin somewhere. The moon is a great choice. We have shown that we can get there in 3 days. It is only a couple of seconds communication distance from earth. It has water ice that can be used for people and for fuel. It has many mysteries ready for us to uncover. Its far side can be used for radio astronomy. And it is visible from earth. Who can doubt how far we have gone when we see visible signs of people on the moon from earth?