Gerard J. DeGroot's DARK SIDE OF THE MOON
Book review by Dennis D. McDonald
As a longtime fan of the U.S. space program my current lack of interest in the International Space Station and the recently announced Lunar Colony comes as a bit of a surprise to me.
Having grown up with Sputnik, Mercury, Apollo, and SkyLab, in those days my interest in science fiction, alien cultures, and intergalactic travel seemed well balanced by the realities of our small steps into the cosmos. In those days I saw the future coming true before my eyes. I enjoyed every minute of it, despite my spectator status.
This book about the race to the Moon is like a cold shower. It reminds us that support for our early space program was not universal. Some heavy duty thinkers seriously questioned whether we really needed to beat the Russians to the Moon.
Reading about those discussions from a 21st Century perspective, the issues back then seem incredibly familiar to us now. The bottom line, then as now, is that we have to spend an inordinate amount of money to make space travel “safe” for humans, while at the same time we have to scrimp and save to send the unmanned vehicles out there to gather really interesting scientific information.
Don’t get me wrong; I get a lump in my throat whenever I see a safe take-off and landing of the Space Shuttle’s orbiter. But we have had amazing success with unmanned vehicles as well. We’ve explored Martian craters, we’ve photographed comets, we’ve brought back interstellar dust to the earth, and we’ve photographed active volcanoes on other worlds.
I’m just not as interested in humans traveling in space when I think about the worthwhile science we could be doing with that money. This book reminds us that such debates have always existed and that they won’t go away as we work through the budget details of creating a colony on the Moon.
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