Chris Hadfield Says We Should Focus on the Moon Before Going to Mars

Tuesday, 06 October 2015 - 1:18PM
Moon
Mars
Tuesday, 06 October 2015 - 1:18PM
Chris Hadfield Says We Should Focus on the Moon Before Going to Mars
Between the discovery of water on Mars and the hubbub surrounding the real-life science of The Martian, all of the hype around space exploration lately is about getting a manned mission to Mars. But according to former CSA astronaut Chris Hadfield, we may all be jumping the gun, as there's a much more convenient and feasible space object that we haven't fully explored yet: the Moon.


Opening quote
"Unless we have some driving reason to get to Mars, I don't see us going there until we have several generations of invention under our belts."
Closing quote

In this video for Tech Insider, Hadfield claims that we have many years of innovation to go before we can feasibly place humans on Mars, including faster rocket engines, more accurate navigation, logistics surrounding supplies, etc. The only reason we would expedite the process, he claims, is if Earth were becoming uninhabitable. And while the climate is changing, it's not becoming "poisonous," and "there's no great necessity for an exodus off the planet." (He claims that there's "no rush," but if there will be a rush in a few generations, there should probably be a rush now, just saying.)

He admits that the Moon is not nearly as desirable as Mars in terms of human habitability, but that Mars is simply too far away to realistically expect to set up colonies anytime soon:

Opening quote
"If the Earth were being threatened, we know it's very hard to live on the Moon. Mars is a much more desirable place- easier place- for humans to live, but it is really hard to get to, with the engines that we have right now... It takes a lot of incremental invention and probing before you can safely start moving people over a vast distance with limited technology. And that's the stage we're at in space exploration."

It's like when sailing ships were first being invented, to be able to sail up and down the coast of Europe, and somebody saying, 'Maybe we could sail as far as Portugal to Morocco... or down the coast of Africa a little bit,' and somebody else coming up and saying, 'No, let's sail all the way to Australia.' We can just barely make it to the Canary Islands, if we go to Australia, we're all going to die."
Closing quote

As a result, it just makes the most sense to go to the Moon first, not because we can live there, but because we can use the travel to the Moon as "practice" for Mars:

Opening quote
"We have a moon. It just makes sense to test and prove and learn all the things that we need to on the Moon... So that's where we're going to go next. And then eventually, we'll have invented enough things that we can safely point and go as far as Mars. But it's early yet."
Closing quote


Science
Space
Moon
Mars

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