Now that the American presidential election is over and Barack Obama is staying in the White House, NASA is getting ready to unveil plans to send astronauts out to the Moon and beyond (for more information, see this article). NASA has mapped out a series of missions that they hope will put humans back out to the Moon early in the next decade, have them visit an asteroid by around 2025, and eventually go to Mars by around 2035. No human has gone beyond Earth orbit in 40 years – the last people to do so were the Apollo 17 crew that went to the Moon in December 1972.

Going back to the Moon will not be cheap. The development costs for the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and the giant Space Launch System rocket booster needed to send the Orion spacecraft beyond Earth orbit are expected to be at least $18 billion, and possibly well over $50 billion. After development is complete, each mission would cost at least $500 million. NASA, however, is convinced of the value of sending people to the Moon and beyond. This video argues that exploring the unknown is a basic human value:

Space exploration is extremely expensive, and these days governments have to make tough decisions about what to spend taxpayers’ money on. What do you think: should we be sending humans back to the Moon and beyond or is the money better spent on Earth? Join the discussion below.

Discuss below or use the poll to answer - Should we send humans to explore beyond Earth orbit, to the Moon, asteroids, and Mars?

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Scott Taylor

Scott Taylor is Acting Program Manager for CurioCity at Let’s Talk Science. He grew up watching bug-eyed monsters in sci-fi B-movies and dreaming of our future in space, and remembers being a young child watching the first astronauts walk on the Moon. Passionate about the importance of science education and understanding how science and technology impacts our society, he is still a sci-fi geek.    


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