Las Vegas, NV, July 19, 2004 Returning to the Moon is the destiny of all humankind and should be a public/private partnership, not be a partisan political football. That's what space entrepreneurs, astronauts, scientists, authors, NASA representatives and international space experts said as they wrapped up the Space Frontier Foundation's fifth "Return to the Moon" (RTM V) conference and workshop in Las Vegas this weekend.
The Return to the Moon V conference was held July 16-18, 2004.
RTM V attendees from the government and private sectors unanimously voted to urge both President Bush and Senator John Kerry to put politics aside and pledge to support the new American Space Policy of partnering with the private sector on the Moon, Mars and Beyond movement. All agreed the effort could only succeed with a joint effort.
At the weekend confab in Las Vegas, Astronaut, Moonwalker and Shuttle Commander Capt. John Young, still active in NASA, said the public must be educated to civilization's risky future, and that the answers lie beyond the Earth's surface. He believes there is a one in 455 chance civilization on Earth will end in the next 100 years, due to some catastrophic event. Our children have a ten times greater chance of dying in the end of civilization than in a commercial airline crash. The technology we will need to work on the Moon is the same technology that will help us here on Earth. We must educate the public to that risk and work together to get to Moon and develop Earth-saving technology, he said.
Dr. George Mueller, former director of NASA's Apollo program, which landed the first man on the Moon, and now associated with the private space venture, Kistler Aerospace, concurred, adding that the cost of such a movement requires government involvement and broad public support. The government tends to think in the short term, and this will take long-term thinking. We have the public support, like we did during Apollo, but the question is, can we sustain the political process over the long term. I see the government trying to create a partnership. It's encouraging, he remarked.
Rick Tumlinson, Founder of the Space Frontier Foundation and long-time space settlement advocate, told the audience that the world is in a New Space Age, and the time has never been better to achieve success. We finally had the first private manned space flight last month, and we have a government directive to go to the Moon, Mars and Beyond. If we can enlist the power of the private sector, along with the muscle of the government, we can return to the Moon, this time to stay, and go on to Mars and beyond. And we can do it in an economically sustainable way. It won't cost a trillion dollars if we do it the right way."
Dr. Paul Spudis, who served on the President's Commission on Moon, Mars and Beyond, said the government can encourage private sector involvement by creating a program of prizes for innovative technological development.
The RTM V conference ended Sunday, July 18th, with an unanimous pledge to move forward with plans to returning to the Moon as a first step to establishing permanent commercial and government bases and businesses, and a training ground for ultimately going to Mars.