Houston, TX, July 18, 2002 In the shadows of the Johnson Space Center near Houston, TX, a group of private lunar engineers, enthusiasts and astronauts today looked to the future as they opened the Space Frontier Foundation's annual Lunar Development Conference, Return to the Moon IV at Hilton NASA Clear Lake Hotel. The 3-day confab culminates Saturday on the 33rd anniversary of humanity's first lunar landing.
Poster image for Return to the Moon IV. Lunar artwork by Pat Rawlings, courtesy NASA.
In his opening remarks, conference co-chairman Wendell Mendell, Manager of the NASA JSC Office for Human Exploration Science, recommended a new direction for what has become a national gathering place for those who wish to design a blueprint for joint government and commercial human settlements on the Moon, including commercial hotels, mining facilities and a planetary training base for future Mars explorers.
Returning to the Moon remains a viable first step in development of the space frontier, he said, but to get there we've got to play the hand we're dealt. We're in a different world than we were last year at this conference. In some ways it is encouraging and other ways challenging. Nevertheless, we must adjust our strategies accordingly.
Mendell noted that those changes include a new NASA Administrator and hints of future lunar missions, along with a new national security priority and the dot-com bust that lead to a cautious economy. Everything we want to do requires money, political will, and the involvement of both government and private enterprise. It can and will happen if we act positively in the context of the world we now live in, he said.
Mendell co-chairs the conference along with John Young, the first human launched seven times from a planetary surface (six from Earth, one from the Moon), an active astronaut and Associate Director at the Johnson Space Center, and George Abbey, former NASA JSC Director and current Senior Assistant for International Issues at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Sponsors of this year's conference are: Space Island Group, Apogee Books, Celestis, FINDS, Lunar Enterprise Corporation, Forever Bound, National Space Society, and John Hanks Communications.
Other notable speakers include: Paul Spudis, Lunar Science Expert; James Oberg, America's Premiere Russian Space Expert; and Rick Tumlinson, a Founder of the Space Frontier Foundation.
CNN.com has published an Associated Press article, Lunar enthusiasts promote moon as first step to Mars, which reports on the Foundation's Return to the Moon IV Conference in Houston last week, and extensively quotes Foundation Founder Rick Tumlinson. A fine article:
Space.com's story on George Abbeys RTMIV speech is at:
Space.com's Leonard David, Senior Space Writer, wrote a very good review of the RTM IV Symposium: The United States Has Unfinished Business on the Moon: