Russia to approve new Moon rocket

Well apparently Russia doesn't like being left out of the upcoming Moon party and they have approved a new Moon rocket.  Frankly, I find the push to get everyone back to the Moon is a badly motivated.  I'm hugely in favour of increased exploration of space, both robotic and manned, but is the Moon the best way to advance?

I think we should have set up a Moon base long ago and that such a base would be fundamentally more interesting and useful than the current space station.  It mightn't have been cheaper mind you, its a long way to the Moon compared to low Earth orbit.  But it would have been more exciting and allowed for more people and more science to happen if we had a solid moon base instead of a rickety floating one.  I know there is micro-gravity science to be done too, but that could mostly be done in shuttles or other experiments.  After all these years it is only now that the space station is complete enough and soon will have room for more crew that real science can be done around the clock.  As it is now the current few astronauts are busy just maintaining the systems.

But I digress.  The planetary society recently released its plan for a bold new future in space and exploration of the Moon is in there, but as an optional addition.  They encourage NASA to allow other nations just getting their feet wet in space, like China, Japan and even Europe, to do the Moon bit. Meanwhile, the more experienced US program should push beyond the Moon, out into interplanetary space with missions to near Earth asteroids.  These missions would be exciting, scientifically useful and ...well exciting!  And they would give some real preparation for the real goal of human space exploration which should be putting some bootprints on Mars.

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