NASA announced last week that it hopes to establish a permanent base camp on the moon by 2024.
Glen Stewart, a professor of astronomy and a research associate in the department of atmosphere and space physics, said that NASA’s motivation is to use the moon as a stepping stone to Mars exploration. The moon also may have valuable resources, such as soil containing raw materials that could be processed into rocket fuel.
“Mars is more interesting scientifically due to its active geological history and the presence of water and the possible presence of early forms of life,” Stewart said. “There’s a few people who claim that there’s this vast resource on the moon, but most people are very skeptical.”
Though the plans for the moon colony are not set in stone, Stewart is skeptical of the timeliness of the project and said he thinks the money could be used for other causes at this time.
“I think eventually people will want to go back to the moon, but having this rushed campaign to do it is not clear to me,” Stewart said.
Freshman fine arts and art history major Jaecie Montgomery is worried about the cost of the project.
“There are so many more important things that we could be spending our money on. Should we really be launching a program to build something that won’t be that beneficial to that many people?” Montgomery said. “And we’re still supporting that conflict in Iraq.”
As for CU’s involvement in the project, Stewart said that no funding has been offered for any research projects yet.
“It’s a fairly new idea to go back to the moon, and NASA hasn’t put out any money to apply to programs for it,” Stewart said. “There’s talk that next year there may be a specific program for moon studies, but we haven’t seen it yet.”
Stewart also said that many people are not aware that NASA’s budget is less than 1 percent of the national budget. There would have to be a significant increase in funding to get the program off the ground.
“Personally, I think that a base on the moon would require an absurd amount of expenditure for minimal good purpose,” said Andrew Hamilton, a professor of astronomical and planetary sciences.
Jess Wagner, a junior psychology major, said that he thinks the money should be used for other things.
“Shouldn’t we be fixing problems on the Earth before we start colonizing the moon?” Wagner said. “I don’t know a lot about the topic, but it just seems ridiculous.”
Stewart said that many scientists are upset because this project will take away funding from other scientific exploration projects.
“I think the appropriate thing to do is to have some balance between the manned program and current science exploration and maintaining the balance in the long term, so there is stable funding for everyone,” Stewart said.
Kersea Boronda, a freshman international affairs major, said that there could be positive programs at CU if NASA follows through with the project, but she agrees that there are more issues that could use the funding.
“I think the aerospace engineering at CU would have a lot of things to offer in terms of research, but right now, I think the money should go towards other things,” Boronda said. “Maybe we should focus on education and international relations.”