Who doesn’t like seeing things explode and crash???
About a week ago, NASA deliberately crashed a rocket into the moon in search of ice. CBS gave a decent preview of the event . Although the results could have been entertaining, the actual crash was fairly anti-climatic.
Regardless, as data begins to slowly trickle in, it seems clear that some form of frozen water exists within the moon. Reports vary on how much ice there is underneath the surface, but several studies indicate that large deposits of ice are randomly distributed throughout the moon.
If large enough ice deposits are found then the steps needed for establishing an effective fueling station are surprisingly easy. NASA currently has developed robot technology that would be capable of melting and electrically dissociating hydrogen and oxygen elements within the ice. The resulting liquid hydrogen and oxygen would create powerful rocket fuel that would be more than sufficient to power further exploratory campaigns. Remarkably, the robot itself would be solar powered and therefore capable of independently preparing the necessary preconditions prior to a human workforce.
Further, ice deposits can be turned into a reliable source of breathable oxygen capable of sustaining any future colonizing efforts. The same technology is presently being successfully deployed within the International Space Station. Finally, NASA has identified areas of the lunar surface that are constantly lit due to the unique tilt of the lunar orbit. Fuel, breathable oxygen and constant sunlight provide the necessary elements for a base.
Even if you do not find exploration and/or lunar colonization particularly compelling, it is hard to discount the benefits of a lunar refueling station that would cost little money (NASA can afford the operation on its present budget… which is saying a lot) and presents little risk in terms of human lives. In the end, even if the U.S. and its citizens do not have any real motivation for further exploration, India, China and Russia all have plans for lunar deployment within the next few years. One way or another (with or without the U.S.) the world will continue to explore the secrets of the moon and ultimately of our universe.
Finally, I wish to point readers to an important video — The released video of the original 1969 moon landing.