Monday, July 27, 2009

Neil, Buzz and Mike are on to something.

Last week marked the 40th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing. After the current shuttle mission, only six flights remain scheduled. Then the “Space Truck” will be retired. It’s 1980’s technology.

Funding for the space station could run out as early as 2016. So, what’s next? For the meantime, we’ll have to hitch a ride to space—and only in low Earth orbit.

Getting to the moon July 20, 1969 was a remarkable achievement. It was more “Stick and Rudder” than high tech. The onboard computers had the power of a Commodore 64, if that. Slide rules, ruled. (Google® that one.) Your cell phone has more computing power than what was available to Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins.

The current goal appears to be a return to the moon through the Orion Project. It looks remarkably similar to Apollo. Just bigger, and of course, with computing power that could only be dreamed about 40 years ago.

The Apollo 11 crew dropped by the White House last week. They suggested Mars instead of the moon. As they’ve “Been there and done that” we should heed their advice.

The Russians just completed a simulation of a flight to Mars. The return trip will take at least 150 days. The challenges are huge. But we’ve proven we can send spacecrafts to Mars, land them safely and explore the surface.

The moon doesn’t offer much. Mars does, including an atmosphere of sorts, and water. Or at least ice.

Two points I’d like to close with, the first being cost. (It’s a CEO thing.) One of the staff here at Video Professor did a paper about the Apollo Program while in college. He discovered that at its peak, Apollo used just half of one percent of the national budget.

Secondly, the Apollo Program drove technology in computing, fuel cells and simply how to boldly go where no one has gone before.

Besides, Mars is “Shovel-ready.”

Do we go it alone? No. It should be a joint effort between the United States, the Russians and even the Chinese. All have established space programs. We already partner with the Russians getting to and from the space station, ferrying food and even equipment to fix the plumbing!

Other nations including Europe, Canada and Japan can also be active partners.

It’s human nature to want to know what’s over the next hill. This continent was discovered by explorers.

We’ve been to the moon. Let’s make the next stop Mars.


John W. Scherer

John is CEO & Founder of Video Professor, Inc.

You can reach him at