Return to the Moon to Stay
It looks like it might finally be happening. It could also be the first step towards humans finally going to Mars, the asteroids, and the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. If all this comes to pass, we will have the privilege of witnessing the start of a new civilization in space, a civilization that will someday grow to span the solar system. If this happens, it will be the greatest civilization that humans have ever built. Five hundred years ago the Great Age of Discovery was getting underway, laying the foundation for the world we live in today. If we are successful with the Return to the Moon program, five hundred years from now the total human population could exceed 100 billion people with 9 out of every 10 of those people living off Earth, on moons, on planets, on asteroids, and space colonies all around the solar system. The lives they lead will be as far beyond us today, as our lives are beyond the people of five hundred years ago.
Is this going to happen? Are we going to do this, or will the Return to the Moon program become another political football that gets zero funding from Congress or is canceled by the next President due to cost? In the short term, the answer to this will depend on who wins the next Presidential election and on the Republicans taking control of the House of Representatives. In the long term, it will depend on how expensive our space transportation system for going to the Moon is. Will this transportation system be so expensive that only a handful of government astronauts get to go, or will it be something that companies and private citizens can eventually afford to use? The answer to that will depend on who wins the battle for control of this program, those who view NASA as a source of never-ending government pork, and those who want to open the high frontier for settlement and development. The only chance the open the high frontier people have to win this argument is to show that an affordable space transportation system can be put together using existing hardware and technology. So far they have not done this.
Can it be done?
Yes, it can. Unfortunately, the answer about how to do this is not simple, it is a multi-step answer that will take time and money to put together.
The first step is building a safe, reliable, and reasonably affordable space transportation system that will get us back to the Moon by 2024. The Space Launch System that is being developed by NASA for this is projected to cost 2 Billion dollars per flight. That is not affordable or sustainable. If the Return to the Moon program is going to open the high frontier for development and settlement it needs a transportation system that costs 1/10th of that. It also needs to be a transportation system that can grow and evolve into something that gets more and more affordable as time progresses.
This is possible. The initial system for doing this will consist of the Orion spacecraft, the Falcon Heavy launch vehicle with a Delta IV Heavy upper stage, a lunar orbiting space station, 3 different kinds of lunar landers all based on the original Apollo Lunar Module, and a small fleet of solar electric powered space tugs for carrying cargo from the International Space Station to the lunar orbiting space station. This article is the first of a series that will describe this system.
It is time to step into the universe of unlimited possibilities and create the most wondrous future imaginable.
It is time to Open the High Frontier.
Note: For those of you who are new to this website, this site is about making spaceflight affordable to everyone so we can finally start building the most incredible civilization the world has ever seen. A civilization that will include planets, asteroids, moons, space-based industries, and space colonies throughout the solar system. For those of you who are fans of space exploration but are new to the subject, the best way to read this site is to start at the beginning and read through to the most current article. If you are already familiar with the subject then feel free to jump around.
Index of Articles
- Opening the High Frontier
- Skyhook, a Journey to Orbit and Beyond
- In the Beginning . . .
- Why do Rockets Cost so Much?
- Combination Launch Systems
- It’s All About Speed!
- Visions of the Future
- The Call of an Unlimited Future
- Combination Launch Systems, part 2
- Outward Bound: Beyond Low Earth Orbit
- and someday . . . Starships!
- Mars: how to get there
- Outpost Space Stations
- Dreams of Space
- The Moon or Mars?
- Skyhooks and Space Elevators
- Stratolaunch and the X-15
- Starship Congress
- Making Spaceflight Affordable
- How a Combination Launch System Works
- Starship Conference 2017
- New Worlds Conference 2017
- Opening the High Frontier
- Building a Spacefaring Civilization
- Space Exploration and the Future
- Guiding Vision
- Return to the Moon to Stay
- Return to the Moon Launch Vehicle
- Return to the Moon Lunar Station
- Return to the Moon Lunar Landers
- Return to the Moon Space Tug
- Skyhooks, Space Elevators and Space Exploration
- Vertical Accelerator Launch Tower
- Combination launch system
- Opening the High Frontier (the Book)