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Artemis I: Is the Moon Worth the Money?

By: Terrence Mower

Americans love money. We’re constantly arguing over rent, the price of goods, and anything else that comes with a price tag. This fondness of finance leads American taxpayers to hate government waste. And with pricey tech races ramping up all over the world, the government is spending more and more money.

Billions have been spent on projects like the recent Artemis rocket launch to send unmanned rockets around the moon. In the past 5 decades, progress in space travel has remained relatively stagnant. But because international conflicts have now begun to escalate, competition to dominate space outside of international borders has also escalated.

The Artemis 1 rocket was launched on November 16 and declared successful on December 11. It traveled 1.4 million miles around the moon and back. NASA scientists used this launch to test the Artemis rocket's capsule, which normally houses astronauts on their trip through space.. It was an unmanned mission, but astronauts will use the rocket to return to the moon for the first time since 1972. In the future, the trip in the Artemis 2, planned for 2024, will hope to establish a colony on the moon, a gateway to the rest of the solar system. Or so NASA scientists say. But how far can the moon really take us?

New technology is certainly being invented. But reaching beyond our planet and starting projects that would take months on Earth to do is on an entirely new level of difficulty.

A trip to the moon takes two days. With the current rocket capacity, only 77 tons of cargo can be taken to the moon for every launch. Considering that it takes nearly 100,000 tons of concrete to build one skyscraper, the moon base could take decades to even get started.

Some scientists say that they can use metals in lunar rocks for construction. However, knowledge of the moon is so limited that we don’t know what kind of metals are on the moon, how we can use them for construction, and if they are even sturdy enough to be used for such a project.

Every rocket that NASA has launched has cost, on average $4.1 billion to design, build, and use, according to scientist Miles O’Brien. The development and research of the Artemis program held a $93 billion price tag, more the federal government puts into the agricultural and technology sectors combined every year. Estimates set a lunar base at $35 billion, but historically, these usually underestimated the cost of such feats.

While, yes, it is crucial for a civilization to venture to other planets, the space industry is simply too expensive right now. With other things like the war in Ukraine and Iran’s revolts, the United States cannot focus on space tech right now. In the past, only when interstellar exploration was a main focus did the US experience success in the field. The space race during the Cold War started up this program. Only can it continue in similar circumstances.

If we as Americans love money so much, then we should not let it go to waste as part of something that we cannot yet be invested in.

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