Tooting My Own Horn: One of My Articles is on ScienceDirect as One of the Most Downloaded Articles

Top25CertificateI received in the e-mail recently notification that my article, “Why Go to the Moon?The Many Faces of Lunar Policy,” was one of the top twenty-five most downloaded articles from Acta Astronautica 70 (January–February 2012): 165–75, the journal where it appeared. The certificate above documents this fact. If you would like to read this article it is available here

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7 Responses to Tooting My Own Horn: One of My Articles is on ScienceDirect as One of the Most Downloaded Articles

  1. Dan Lester says:

    Roger – This is an excellent assessment of the forces that led to our lunar landing efforts, many decades ago. Thank you for this. These forces are not well appreciated, and a good understanding of them is necessary to avoid misusing the Apollo program as model rationale for future efforts, where such forces might not be active. The plan for the Apollo landings arose, as you said, from a President in a “crisis atmosphere” of national technological credibility. The base motivation wasn’t really space exploration, but proving national smarts and skill. Even now we can see, in the recent fears advanced about Chang’e-3, a somewhat desperate and largely unconvincing attempt to reconstruct such a crisis atmosphere. This would be to re-energize a lunar program in the Apollo model. It is amusing how one can gin up from Chang’e-3 a technological crisis for our nation that has repeatedly demonstrated its ability to successfully land things on Mars. Your final thought, that an important reason to send humans back to the Moon is to prove that we did it in the first place, is wonderful, though one has to be concerned about whether the thrill of conspiracy will make the next lunar landing any more believable than the last ones were. Not sure what we need to do to prove our accomplishment. (Oh, by the way, we should understand that Chang’e-3 was faked. There – that should make everyone feel better!)

    I should say, however, that I find your six reasons for lunar return somewhat unconvincing. It might be better to consider these six reasons just as ones that have been suggested, or perhaps ones that need to be fleshed out. That the Moon is only three days travel from the Earth isn’t a reason to go to the Moon. It’s a reason not to go to Mars. That the Moon offers a test bed for more extensive space exploration, as an airless body with gravity it should help our future explorations of, what, Mercury? That it provides an excellent base for scientific research is arguable. For geology, lunar geology is certainly advanced. For astronomy, the value is for a somewhat niche application, radio telescopes in the electromagnetically quiet zone on the lunar farside. As to extending peaceful international cooperation in space, there isn’t anything special about the lunar surface. With regard to furthering the development of low-lost energy technologies, I hope you aren’t thinking of He-3. That’s gas for an engine that doesn’t exist. Finally, as a base for nuclear weapons to destroy threatening asteroids, it’s no secret that using a nuke to fragment an incoming asteroid may be a really dumb idea, though Bruce Willis certainly made it look heroic. There are far better ways to deal with such a threat.

    Best wishes for the New Year,
    Dan Lester


    • launiusr says:

      Dan, thanks for your thoughts on this. I don’t see much of anything that is compelling as a rationale for human spaceflight at this point. Would that it were otherwise.


      • Dan Lester says:

        Roger, actually a remaining powerful rationale for human spaceflight is getting humans close enough that we can have a near real-time connection of our brain, our cognition, and in some measure our humanity, to tasks at a distance, whether those tasks be for science, resource development, or conquest. Hard to apply human cognition to anything on Mars, for example, when it’s of order ten minutes away. Now, that rationale isn’t for boots-on-the-ground, but for brains-nearby. That’s something that our cultural bias towards historical exploration makes us not entirely comfortable with. So it’s just a matter of cultural maturation. Our culture has yet to really grow into our new technological capabilities. The promise of space telepresence will let us put human cognition, dexterity, and awareness in places that we could never put humans. But we have to get people close.


  2. Dave Huntsman says:

    Is it meant to be intuitively obvious how to get that article? The link only leads to the Abstract.


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