Nyack, NY, December 14, 2002 – Thirty years ago this week, the last human being to visit another world stepped off the Lunar surface – so far, not to return. Calling the day Project Apollo ended one of the most regrettable moments in the history of exploration, the Space Frontier Foundation today urged the President and Congress to re-start human space exploration by enabling a return to the Moon, the establishment of a permanent base there and making preparations to move on to Mars.
“Thirty years ago, Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt stepped off the Moon and flew back to Earth in Apollo 17. That day we turned our back on adventure and discovery, and walked away from the future,” said the Foundation’s Rick Tumlinson. “Ever since, we have been going in circles, literally. Our astronauts are supposed to be explorers, not truck drivers or landlords for some building in the sky that could be better run by the private sector. It is time to get our space program back on track, back to opening the frontier – and that means back to the Moon.”
Calling the astronauts of Apollo heroes, the Foundation wants America and the world to build on their legacy. The organization believes that time and momentum have been wasted, and a clear plan needs to be put forward by national leaders…one that will re-invigorate and re-energize our space programs, bring people from around the world together and inspire a whole new generation as America did during the Apollo era.
“There are Apollo generation people who have their own children today for whom the great adventure of Apollo is ancient history, and that is a very sad thing,” stated Tumlinson. “It is time to take our greatest moments and put them back into the future where they belong. This nation and the world needs something positive to lift our eyes upwards from the dark times we face today. Re-starting our human exploration efforts, and building on Apollo’s legacy, is the obvious thing to do.”
The Foundation wants to see a joint government and commercial effort to establish a permanent lunar base as soon as possible. Foundationers cite many reasons for such a return, including resources, business, entertainment, science and astronomy and, importantly, as a training base for future explorers of Mars and other worlds.
“We need to learn how to operate on other worlds. The Moon is the perfect place to learn these skills and to develop the habitats, equipment and planet-to-planet transportation systems we can use to explore and eventually open Mars to human settlement. Working with private companies who are interested in the Moon for its resources and entertainment value, our space agencies could leverage themselves out of the boring, dead-end rut they are now in, and create some real excitement about our future.”
The Foundation has long fought for a return to the Moon, once collecting over 50,000 signatures and delivering them to the White House. It also holds an annual Return to the Moon Conference in Houston, featuring astronauts, space policy leaders, scientists and entrepreneurs presenting their own ideas for a return to the Moon. The 2003 conference will be held on July 17-20 in Houston.
Learn more about the Foundation’s Return to the Moon project at: http://www.space-frontier.org/Projects/Moon/.