12 February 2004
Opinion - Other (None)
Letter to the President's Commission
Think Long Term as We Explore
by Sam Coniglio
By Sam Coniglio

This message was sent to the President's Commission on Moon, Mars and Beyond. You can contribute your comments by submitting them on their website: www.moontomars.org.

The most common way to explore and develop a new territory is with a combination of government and private activites. Typically, governments have sponsored the initial high-risk exploration. (Lewis and Clark and Christopher Columbus come to mind.) These explorers received government funding to explore the unknown and report back. After that, both government and private businesses invest in further exploration and development of infrastructure to exploit the resources of a new land.

With this analogy in mind, the US government should invest in the inital exploration of the Moon and set up the buildings, communication, and other critical infrastructure for allowing people to live and work there on a long-term basis. After that infrastructure is set, the government should encourage and promote private development on the moon. These two actions could happen concurrently: In fact, a lunar settlement would be developed twice or three times as fast with private business participating with government support.

Space exploration inspires everyone. The mere activity of people living and working on the Moon will inspire generations of children to learn science, math, and engineering. Why? Because of the adventure. Poets, artists, and writers should be able to live and work there too. Why? Because they help inspire people with their creative vision.

Please consider the very long-term implications of space exploration. It goes beyond politics. The landing of the first men on the Moon back in 1969 briefly united the whole planet Earth. It is this achievement that the human race will remember us for the next 1,000 years. We remember the Roman Empire for their engineering achievements. We remember the Greeks for their contributions to poetry, art, and literature. The United States will be remembered for settling the cosmos.

Respectfully yours,
Samuel Coniglio
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Sam Coniglio 12 February 2004
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