Back to the Moon?

Forty years after Apollo, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution wanted to run a brief pro/con on “Should we go back to the Moon?” They called Georgia Tech. I volunteered to do “No,” and Dr. Loewy from our School of Aerospace Engineering volunteered for “Yes.” The catch: a tight limit of 150 words. That’s hard.

I suspect that Dr. Loewy and I agree a lot more than we disagree, but I’m glad to have had the chance to have my position printed.

Click on the image below for a high-resolution PDF, or scroll to the bottom to read my original text:


The version above, edited for length but without changing my meaning, is 137 words. In case you’re interested, my original submission (exactly 150 words!) before editing was:

NASA shouldn’t go back to the Moon. But individual Americans should… as explorers and entrepreneurs and colonists.

In the 1960s, America won the space race with the Soviets… but we went to the Moon too early, before the technology was cost-effective, and we haven’t been back in forty years. It’s too expensive.

This time, we should find ways to explore, exploit, and colonize the Moon cost-effectively. That means a national space program designed to create and support a new space industry… not another “flags and footprints” mission with no real-world impact. We can build a new economic sector in which America leads the world — and which supports tens of thousands of high-quality jobs here on Earth.

It’s not NASA’s job to send astronauts back to the Moon. NASA’s job should be to make it possible for the National Geographic Society to send astronauts to the Moon.

And I couldn’t acknowledge it within my 150-word limit, but that last sentence is modified from Rand Simberg; he deserves any credit for it. Check out his blog, and take the time to read his article on “A Space Program for the Rest of Us” at The New Atlantis.


  1. Very interesting! I will say that it’s a shame that for people who scan headlines all they will see is “Should the US go to the moon? Stephen says ‘No’.” Too bad the question wasn’t something like “To the Moon: US Government or Private Enterprise?”

  2. I like how both guys are “Yes” and the “No” actually makes more sense.