Space exploration isn't about science. (Let me repeat this for those of you who may be hyperventilating) Space Exploration/Colonization isn't about science.
Jonathan Goff has a new blog, Selenian Boondocks. He is giving Mike Griffin some tips with Your Focus Determines Your Path - SB - June.16.05
If you think that having a small McMurdo-on-the-Moon style lunar science base is space development, then your opinion on what is an ideal method to accomplish that will differ quite a bit from someone like me who doesn't see the moon as settled until there are dozens of settlements and hundreds of thousands of people living and working there.
Not bad. I have to go along with his position. I have heard it proposed to build an international science station on the Moon like Antarctica. Two words in that idea cause me heartburn, science and international.
Space Exploration/Colonization isn't about science. Exploring the new world wasn't about science. Opening the west wasn't about science. Marco Polo wasn't about science. Science is wonderful. Engineering is even better. Giving us room to roam is the best of all.
I know a lot people (particularly at the Planetary Society) are big on international cooperation. But I am here to tell you, international control of the Moon is a bad idea. Lets say the USA, Russia, and the EU jointly build a nice Moon base. John Q. Entrepreneur wants to move up and start a Helium-3 mining station. Well Russia & the EU don't want American industry to get defacto control over the Moon's Helium-3 mining so they block the proposal. Then the US retaliates when a Japanese company wants to do the same. Nothing would ever get done.
Now, with there three separate bases, when the US mining company sets up shop, Russia & Japan would simply send there own miners up there and compete. Now that sounds like a recipe for human (& capitalist) expansion.
How many people would give up the modern conveniences we are so proud of to work as a miner on the moon. I sure would. Most people I know would. Not everyone, but a lot of people. What does that tell you about priorities. How many people in the 18th and 19th century gave up the conveniences of the east coast to break new ground out west?
Manifest Destiny was a nineteenth century belief that the United States had a divinely-inspired mission to expand, particularly across the North American frontier towards the Pacific Ocean.
I propose we have a Manifest Destiny to live and adapt to every environment accessible to us. Whatever my old history professor said about Manifest Destiny, without it, would we have Silicon Valley? I don't know what effect solar system colonization will have on our society, but I have an unquenchable desire to find out, for better or worse.
Even more than that. This isn't just about nationalism, freedom, and capitalism expanding through the solar system, it is about survival. The most basic need of all humanity. This is Endurance Destiny. Humanity must endure. Why, you may ask. Because we will it to be so, and God wills it to be so, and we have the tools to make it happen.
"NASA is not about the 'Adventure of Human Space Exploration,' we are in the deadly serious business of saving the species. All Human Exploration's bottom line is about preserving our species over the long haul."
Astronaut John Young,"The Big Picture"