No One is Calling Out NASA on Artemis Extravaganza
1 February 2023
A week before Christmas, the media were falling over themselves to congratulate the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on the success of NASA’s moon shot, where an unmanned spacecraft flew past the moon, before returning to land safely in the Atlantic Ocean.
The Orion project to send an unmanned spacecraft past the moon is part of the Artemis mission, which will ultimately set up a manned station on the moon and later send a manned spacecraft to Mars, the planet closest to earth in the Solar System.
The cost of the Artemis mission up to 2025 has been estimated at $US93 billion, about $A140 billion.
In light of the fact that outer space is an environment extremely hostile to life — being a vacuum, and subject to constant exposure to dangerous radiation from the sun and the cosmos — the question must be asked as to whether there is any other way in which mankind can continue to explore our Solar System?
The obvious answer is that the United States and other countries have for decades been involved in unmanned satellite probes to every other planet and even to the outer limits of the Solar System, as well as using powerful telescopes to study our own Solar System, and then beyond that to the rest of the universe.
These methods have been used for decades, and have resulted in a greatly enhanced knowledge of the Solar System, and have even enabled the collection of soil and rock samples from the moon and Mars, and fragments of asteroids that have been brought back to earth for examination.
While much of this is pure research with no commercial implications, the study of space has some practical applications, including monitoring of meteors and other rock fragments that could potentially collide with Earth causing massive damage, and the need to protect ourselves from nations such as China, Russia and North Korea, which want to use space for military purposes.
The growth of military espionage from space, threats of cyberterrorism and the vulnerability of global telecommunications from attacks are very good reasons for the West to continue to invest in space technology.
These are not the lived experience of most people, but they are very practical considerations.
But the Artemis mission has very different objectives.
According to NASA, it “will land the first woman and first person of colour on the Moon, using innovative technologies to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before”.
“We will collaborate with commercial and international partners and establish the first long-term presence on the Moon. Then, we will use what we learn on and around the Moon to take the next giant leap: sending the first astronauts to Mars.”
This is nothing but virtue signalling on a grand scale, funded by taxpayer money. We can expect that, before the project reaches completion, representatives of GLBTQI, indigenous and other “oppressed” minorities will be included in the program.
Other claimed justifications, including the mining of rare minerals, are nothing more than weak rationalisations unsupported by any objective evidence. Mineral extraction on a large scale requires large and complex mining equipment and huge quantities of water and energy; which are unavailable on the desolate surfaces of the moon and Mars.
There is no rational explanation for this extravagant waste of public money, particularly when there are so many issues that need to be dealt with in the US, including crumbling infrastructure and a poor national health system, and, more generally, throughout the developing world where billions of people still live in extreme poverty.
It is hardly surprising that the Greens and their allies, so insistent on stopping the use of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas, are completely silent on the extraordinary waste of energy and other scarce resources involved in the Artemis mission.
It is perhaps more surprising that centres of knowledge including the universities, and centres of moral authority such as the churches, should remain totally silent in the face of this obscene and scandalously wasteful project.
There is a very practical reason why it has been 50 years since the US last sent astronauts to the moon: the cost was unsustainable, the risks were high, and the benefits were non-existent.
We will hear much more about the Artemis mission as billions of dollars are spent on this wasteful and extravagant project. But the sooner it comes to an end, the better.
Originally published in News Weekly. Photo by Pixabay.
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