- At a time when the U.S. faces historic debt, NASA announced
last week its intention to establish a permanent base on the Moon by 2024.
There has long been a military connection to NASA's Moon missions. The
NASA plan to establish permanent bases on the Moon will help the military
"control and dominate" access on and off our planet Earth and
determine who will extract valuable resources from the Moon in the years
ahead. The taxpayers will be asked to pay the enormously expensive "research
and development" costs of this program that in the end will profit
the aerospace industry and those corporation like Bechtel that intend to
build the bases and extract resources on the Moon.
- In an interview on December 4 from the Johnson Space
Center in Houston, Texas, Scott Horowitz, NASA's associate administrator
for exploration said, "We're going for a base on the Moon." The
NASA plan is portrayed as the next phase of the space agency's exploration
agenda after space shuttles are retired in 2010. NASA's ambitious schedule
includes a 2009 test of one of the lunar spaceships, a 2014 manned test
flight of the new Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) without a Moon landing,
and a 2020 flight with a four-astronaut crew that would land on the Moon
for a short visit. NASA envisions people living on the Moon for six-month
intervals beginning in 2024.
- The most likely destination for the permanent base is
the Moon's south pole because it's sunlit for three-quarters of the time
and has possible resources to mine in areas nearby. Just to ensure that
Congress will support funding for the Moon program, NASA is spreading the
operation out to 13 states: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut,
Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Ohio, Texas, Utah, and Virginia.
Pratt & Whitney in West Palm Beach, Florida is now working on the engines
for a lunar lander. Bechtel is interested in building structures on the
Moon for NASA.
- Last year, NASA said it would cost $104 billion just
to return to the Moon for a first visit, but has declined to give estimates
for the total cost of a permanent base. The Government Accountability Office
(GAO) reports that NASA's procurement plan for the Moon lander risks delivering
a product that is late, over budget, and short on capability. This is what
happened in the case of the International Space Station (ISS) that was
originally supposed to cost taxpayers $10 billion; the price has grown
to $100 billion and the station is still not complete.
- With space-related spending a low priority for most governments
around the world, NASA hopes that by calling the Moon base an international
post it will be able to recruit partners to help convince their publics
and politicians to buy into the new exploration plan. By inviting some
"allies" to share in the creation of the Moon base, the U.S.
also hopes to absorb energies from countries like Japan that have announced
plans of their own to establish Moon colonies.
- The idea of a U.S. base on the Moon is nothing new. In
a secret study called "A U.S. Army Study for the Establishment of
a Lunar Outpost" published on June 9, 1959, the military maintained
that, "The lunar outpost is required to develop and protect potential
United States interests on the Moon; to develop techniques in Moon-based
surveillance of the Earth and space; in communications relay, and in operations
on the surface of the Moon; to serve as a base for exploration of the Moon.Any
military operations on the Moon will be difficult to counter by the enemy
because of the difficulty of his reaching the Moon, if our forces are already
present and have means of countering a landing or of neutralizing any hostile
forces that have landed."
- In 1999, John Young, former Gemini, Apollo, and space
shuttle astronaut, said that the Moon would also be useful for "planetary
- Recognizing that "control" of the Moon could
cause enormous conflict over time, the United Nations created the Moon
Treaty in 1979. Much of the Moon Treaty reiterates earlier and internationally-accepted
"space law," particularly the Outer Space Treaty of 1967. Article
11 of the treaty maintains, "The Moon and its natural resources are
the common heritage of mankind." The treaty also prohibits national
appropriation, adding the words "by means of use or occupation, or
by any other means." In other words, no military bases and no claims
of ownership are allowed. The U.S. never signed the Moon Treaty, and in
fact it was only ratified by nine nations.
- A 1989 study commissioned by Congress, called "Military
Space Forces: The Next 50 Years" reports that whoever holds the Moon
militarily will control the "earth-Moon gravity well" and thus
will essentially control the front gate to the Moon.
- Former Nazi Major General Walter Dornberger, who was
in charge of the entireV-1 and V-2 missile operation for Hitler's Germany,
testified before the U.S. Congress in 1958 that America's top space priority
ought to be to "conquer, occupy, keep, and utilize space between the
Earth and the Moon." (Dornberger, along with 1,500 other top Nazi
scientists, was smuggled into the U.S. under Operation Paperclip after
WW II. He became Vice-President at Bell Aerospace in New York.)
- The Moon has one resource that is getting everyone's
attention. It is helium-3, and, say many space enthusiasts, could be used
for fusion power back here on Earth. In a 1995 New York Times op-ed, science
writer Lawrence Joseph asks the question: "Will the Moon become the
Persian Gulf of the 21st Century?" Joseph maintains that the most
important technological question of our time will be "which nation
will control nuclear fusion?" He ends his piece by saying, "If
we ignore the potential of this remarkable fuel, the nation could slip
behind the race for control of the global economy, and our destiny beyond."
- One person who is not ignoring helium-3 on the Moon is
former astronaut and engineer Harrison Schmitt who has created a corporation
to mine the Moon for it. Schmitt, though, is concerned about obstacles
to his grand plans. In a 1998 piece for the industry newspaper Space News
called "The Moon Treaty: Not a Wise Idea" he writes, "The
strong prohibition on ownership of 'natural resources' also causes worry..The
mandate of an international regime would complicate private commercial
efforts.. The Moon Treaty is not needed to further the development and
use of lunar resources for the benefit of humankind...including the extraction
of lunar helium-3 for terrestrial fusion power."
- Some scientists predict that one metric ton of helium-3
could be worth over $3 billion. Researchers at the Princeton University
Plasma Physics Laboratory have estimated that some one million tons of
helium-3 could be obtained from the top layer of the Moon.
- If all this turns out to be true and scientifically possible,
imagine the gold rush to the Moon and the conflict that could follow in
years to come. Who would police the Moon, especially when countries like
the U.S. refuse to sign the Moon Treaty that restricts "ownership
- The U.S. Space Command's plan, Vision for 2020, says,
"Historically, military forces have evolved to protect national interests
and investments - both military and economic. During the rise of sea commerce,
nations built navies to protect and enhance their commercial interests....Likewise,
space forces will emerge to protect military and commercial national interests
and investment in the space medium due to their increasing importance."
- I have always been convinced that, by creating offensive
space weapons systems, one of the major jobs of the Space Command would
be to control who can get on and off planet Earth, thus controlling the
"shipping lanes" to the Moon and beyond.
- There has long been a military connection to NASA's Moon
missions. In early 1994, NASA launched the Deep Space Program Science Experiment,
the first of a series of Clementine technology demonstrations jointly sponsored
with the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO). The Pentagon announced
that data acquired by the spacecraft indicated that there is ice in the
bottom of a crater on the Moon, located on the Moon's south pole - the
same venue NASA now envisions as the site for the 2024 permanent base.
According to a Pentagon website, "The principal objective of the lunar
observatory mission though was to space qualify lightweight sensors and
component technologies for the next generation of Department of Defense
spacecraft [Star Wars]. The mission used the Moon, a near-Earth asteroid,
and the spacecraft's Interstage Adapter (ISA) as targets to demonstrate
sensor performance. As a secondary mission, Clementine returns valuable
data of interest to the international civilian scientific sector."
- In the end, the NASA plan to establish permanent bases
on the Moon will help the military "control and dominate" access
on and off our planet Earth and determine who will extract valuable resources
from the Moon in the years ahead.
- The taxpayers will be asked to pay the enormously expensive
"research and development" costs of this program that in the
end will profit the aerospace industry and those corporation like Bechtel
that intend to build the bases and extract resources on the Moon.
- NASA is not really looking for the "origins of life,"
as it tells school children today. Instead, it is laying the groundwork
for a new gold rush that will drain our national treasury and enrich the
big corporations that now control our government. It is beyond time for
the American people to wake up to the shell game underway.
- See also: http://www.space4peace.org