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Return to the Moon

A lunar rover refuels
It has been nearly 25 years since a human last walked on the surface of the Moon. By 1970, the Apollo space program had met President Kennedy's challenge to make it to the Moon "before this decade is out." And in so doing, Apollo completed its unstated motive of beating the Soviet Union with a superior space program. The remaining Apollo missions gave us tantalizing first-hand knowledge of the Moon's geography. However, the Apollo program left America without a compelling reason to stay there. Our space program changed directions to compete in the growing LEO (Low Earth Orbit) commercial/defense market and soon began experiencing a series of budget cuts that continue to this day.

Apollo was a showcase, never intended to build infrastructure to further space development on the Moon. Since that time a considerable amount of research has been done on how humans could survive on the Moon; for instance, prototypes of machines that can produce oxygen from lunar soil. Furthermore, the possibility of water ice in a permanently-shadowed crater at the lunar South Pole has been identified by the Clementine spacecraft .

Nonetheless, a return to the Moon remains a potential in search of a new motive. The amazing potential of astronomical observatories on the Moon (particularly on the Farside) is one strong reason. Of course, the Moon would be a fantastic springboard for further space development, and one might this to be reason enough.

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