SETI An article on space travel from the Vatican newspaper

Larry Klaes (
Tue, 20 Jul 1999 16:53:41 -0400

>From: "Petroff, Chris" <>
>To: "''" <>
>Subject: An article on space travel from the Vatican newspaper
>Date: Tue, 20 Jul 1999 10:44:01 -0400
>X-Mailer: Internet Mail Service (5.5.2448.0)
>Lunar Applications and Future Projects
>ROME, JUL 19 (ZENIT).- After landing on the moon, Neil Armstrong gave
>his television audience the famous phrase: "That's one small step for
>man, one giant leap for mankind." Today, thirty years after the moon
>landing on July 21, 1969, the question remains: to what degree can the
>enterprise be considered a "giant leap"? More importantly, was it
>worthwhile to spend $70 billion -- the cost of Apollo 11 Mission
>converted into today's dollar, to send three men to the moon?
>Apollo 11 was followed by six other missions, up to and including Apollo
>17; only Apollo 13 did not make a landing. In total, these missions
>would seem to boast only of twelve astronauts who have walked on the
>moon and 840 pounds of rock that have been brought back to earth.
>Chips of rock have been given to virtually all heads of State, including
>the Holy See, and 10% of the material collected has been distributed to
>125 scientific institutes and laboratories, on the condition these are
>returned when the research is completed. The remainder is kept in
>deposits in the Houston and San Antonio Space Centers, awaiting further
>These lunar enterprises have, in fact, significantly influenced life on
>earth. Piero Bianucci, who recently published a book entitled "The Moon:
>>From Landing to Colonization," told the Italian newspaper "Avvenire"
>that NASA counts the number of space program related inventions at more
>than 160,000. "From cellular telephones to pocket calculators, from
>micro-telecameras to devices for paraplegics that can be activated with
>eye movement, from small lasers to solar cells, from nickel-cadmium to
>lithium [batteries] and other services we normally enjoy -- like
>telecommunications satellites and weather forecasts ... all are of
>"lunar" origin." Even clothing was inspired by the moon shots, with
>"moon boots" for snow, inspired by the design of the astronauts' boots,
>and Velcro, which in the early days of the lunar enterprise was
>considered a military secret!
>This is perhaps why today, thirty years later, there is a desire to
>return to our natural satellite, as reflected in some recent missions.
>The most interesting fact discovered in the last few years is,
>undoubtedly, the January 1994 Clementine survey's discovery of water on
>the moon. This find could be decisive for future projects that hope to
>establish bases on the moon, as launch pads to other planets of the
>solar system, especially Mars. Water on the moon makes available not
>only an indispensable element for life, but also hydrogen and oxygen,
>the basic components of rocket fuel.
>Obviously, the future of lunar missions should not be read in terms of
>tourism, although thought is being given to charter flights around the
>moon, but in terms of science. The purpose for returning to the moon is
>to gather materials that are scarce on earth (Helium-3, for example),
>and to carry out experiments that require an "induced vacuum." The
>hidden face of the moon will be very useful: telescopes can be installed
>that will perform in optimum conditions, without terrestrial
>interference from light and magnetic contamination. Also planned is the
>installation of a large antenna in the Saha crater to pick up signals of
>extraterrestrial civilization, continuing the SETI project.

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