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← The Moon Village | John Mankins | TEDxLagunaBlancaSchool

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Showing Revision 7 created 02/05/2020 by Theresa Ranft.

  1. (Video)
  2. (John F. Kennedy) Many years ago,
  3. the great British explorer George Mallory,
  4. who was to die on Mount Everest,
  5. was asked why did he want to climb it.
  6. He said, "Because it is there."
  7. (Video ends)
  8. So, in 1962,
  9. then-President Kennedy announced
    at Rice University in Texas
  10. the goal of sending humans to the Moon
  11. and returning them safely to Earth
    within that decade.
  12. And, of course, we sort of take it
    as a given that the President said it,
  13. it became a national initiative,
    vast amounts of money were spent.
  14. But, in fact, one of the things
    that had to happen
  15. was a large number
    of policymakers and taxpayers
  16. all had to be persuaded
    that this was a good idea.
  17. Well, in August of 1963,
  18. about 11 months after Kennedy
    made his historic speech in Texas,
  19. two NASA scientists
  20. by the name of Newell and Jastrow
  21. wrote a little booklet
    which was distributed very widely
  22. among policymakers and to anyone
    in the public who was interested,
  23. and basically posed the question:
  24. Why should we land on the Moon?
  25. Why was this worth
    a vast amount of money?
  26. And there were three
    principal lines of argument
  27. that are discussed in this little booklet.
  28. One, of course, has to do
    with the national interest,
  29. national security, national prestige.
  30. We were in the midst of the Cold War,
  31. and the space race with the Soviet Union
  32. was at that moment,
    in 1962 and then in 1963,
  33. still being lost.
  34. The Soviet Union had been
    the first to space with a satellite.
  35. They had been the first to space
    with an animal, a living animal, a dog.
  36. They had been the first to space
    with an astronaut,
  37. and the administration
    was looking for an initiative
  38. that was something that the US
    could win in the space race
  39. because that would demonstrate
    that the US socio-economic system
  40. was competitive
    and was superior to communism.
  41. So, first and foremost,
    national interest, national prestige,
  42. demonstrating that the US
    was a superior system.
  43. Secondly, as Kennedy
    mentioned in his speech,
  44. we do these things
    not because they are easy
  45. but because they are hard.
  46. And the pursuit of the space race
    and the pursuit of the Apollo program
  47. would lead to tremendous
    technical innovation
  48. in aerospace technologies and computing
    and materials and all these technologies
  49. that were of great value
    both in the Cold War
  50. and for the future of the United States.
  51. And lastly, for science.
  52. Because there was at that time
    still a big question
  53. about how was the Moon formed,
  54. what is the relationship
    between the Moon and the Earth,
  55. and what was the earliest origins
    of our solar system,
  56. and how did the Earth and the Moon
    get affected by the impacts
  57. that came from deep space?
  58. All of those things were unknown.
  59. Well, all of those questions
    were addressed
  60. and all of those technologies
    were developed.
  61. The space race was won;
    missions took place.
  62. So why are we talking now
    about going back to the Moon?
  63. There are really
    three principal reasons again.
  64. First and foremost,
    there's been a fundamental change
  65. in our understanding of the Moon
    in the last 10 or 15 years,
  66. based on the discovery
  67. that there is, in fact,
    vast amounts of water
  68. in the form of ices and hydrated minerals
    at the north and south pole of the Moon.
  69. One of the things
    we learned from Apollo
  70. was that the Moon was bone dry
  71. and always would be
    and always had been.
  72. There was no water,
    no hydrogen, no oxygen,
  73. no way to make life support materials,
    no way to make rocket fuels, and so on.
  74. Turned out none of that was true,
  75. and there is, in fact,
    a vast amount of water
  76. at the poles of the Moon, where it's cold.
  77. Second big change.
  78. Right now, there is a revolution going on
  79. in space launch systems technology,
  80. driven in large measure by two firms:
    SpaceX and Blue Origin,
  81. both of which are developing new launchers
  82. which will deliver payloads to space,
  83. and therefore to the Moon,
  84. at a 90% cost reduction,
  85. from the costs of getting into space
    and getting to the Moon,
  86. compared to the glory days
    of Apollo and the space shuttle.
  87. That changes everything.
  88. And lastly - and I use these metaphors -
  89. and lastly, there has been
    tremendous advances
  90. in a wide range
    of technologies here on Earth,
  91. which allow large numbers of 3D printed,
  92. technically modular,
  93. rapidly reconfigurable intelligent systems
  94. to be mass-produced all over the world.
  95. If you have ever seen a little CubeSat,
  96. or you have seen ...
  97. if you have one of these things
    in your pocket,
  98. then you are enjoying -
    it's a mobile phone -
  99. you are enjoying the benefits
    of mass-produced
  100. modular digitally reconfigurable systems.
  101. This changes how we return to the Moon
  102. and what we can do there
    and at what price.
  103. As a consequence of water on the Moon,
  104. new launch systems,
    lower prices, new technologies,
  105. a vast number of countries and companies
  106. are now all planning to go to the Moon.
  107. And so, one reason
    now is the time to go to the Moon
  108. is because everybody else is also going.
  109. And they are going
  110. for the purposes of exploring,
    finding those resources,
  111. developing those resources and using them,
  112. not only for basically
    the operations on the Moon,
  113. which is kind of a selfie
    if you're eating watermelon -
  114. we go to the Moon to get resources
    to operate on the Moon -
  115. it's not really useful.
  116. But, in addition, finding materials
    on the Moon like water ice,
  117. using the other resources of the Moon
  118. silicon, aluminum, iron, and so on
    to manufacture things,
  119. print things, 3D printing on the Moon,
  120. affordably will allow us
    to basically use the Moon
  121. as a stepping-stone
    to the rest of the solar system,
  122. and to introduce lunar resources
  123. in the form of manufactured things
  124. into a larger near-Earth economy,
  125. including the delivery of energy,
  126. solar energy harvested in space
    to the markets on Earth
  127. in tremendous quantities
  128. and in completely carbon neutral fashion
  129. during the coming decades.
  130. Moreover, we go back to the Moon
  131. because it is a tremendous test bed
    for new technologies,
  132. a research and development lab.
  133. We can use it as shown
    in the lower right image
  134. as a test bed for going back to Mars.
  135. So it's a tremendous R&D lab
  136. because it's going
    to be cheaper to get there
  137. because we'll have the resources
    to be there in a sustainable fashion.
  138. And operations in near-Earth space
    on orbital platforms
  139. will basically open
    the gateway - pun intended -
  140. for a current NASA program on this level
  141. to the rest of the solar system.
  142. Just going in and being on the Moon
  143. is not the same as being able
    to go anywhere in the solar system.
  144. That becomes possible.
  145. And, lastly, we go back to the Moon
  146. because it is a tremendous platform
  147. for doing astronomy
    and for observing our universe
  148. in ways that we cannot achieve
    here on Earth.
  149. And, finally, we go back
    to the Moon to stay.
  150. There is no better place
    in our solar system
  151. where we might consider the creation
    of a sustainable Earth-like habitat
  152. than at the north
    and the south pole of the Moon
  153. where we have basically
    the same amount of energy,
  154. we have the same kind of minerals.
  155. We have some shortcomings.
  156. But the discovery of water
    fundamentally changes the opportunity
  157. for human settlement of the Moon.
  158. And, ultimately, we do all these things
  159. not individually, not in a race,
  160. but we do them because we have
    the opportunity to do them together.
  161. We have the opportunity
    to do all of these things,
  162. development of the Moon's resources,
    delivery of energy for Earth,
  163. sustainable settlements in space
    in the form of a village as a metaphor -
  164. not in a race but rather
    doing these things altogether.
  165. And I think that many of the students
    here at Laguna Blanca
  166. will be part of these programs
    in these efforts over the coming years.
  167. Thank you very much.
  168. (Applause)