Very different futures are available to people who can thrive beyond Earth, versus those whose destinies are constrained to a single world.

For an extensive compilation of references that explore the benefits that have accrued from space exploration, click here.

For an excellent discussion with references on the return on investment of the Apollo program, click here.

Below are a few examples of the many benefits possible from investment in the ILRP.

  • 21st century jobs.  Inspiring new products and solutions for a global market.  The process of building a permanent human settlement on the Moon accelerates advances in IT and robotics and organizes them into more capable tools than sorties do, and certainly more than not going at all.  The spinoffs from this are easy to harvest.
  • Extreme green.  In addition to robotics and next generation tele-operation and IT, a permanent settlement on the Moon will push "extreme green" technologies for life support components and power, again inspiring and advancing solutions faster than other strategies.  The types of technologies that can support a group of people on the Moon or on Mars, were there are few indigenous resources to support life are the kinds that can be made into marketable products to deal with increasing environmental pressures from Earth's expanding population at a time of global climate change.  Examples of technological advances include: life support, water reclamation, waste management, high efficiency hydroponics and agriculture, power generation and distribution, and many others.
  • International collaboration.  A permanent settlement on the Moon, built through the contributions and collaborations of many nations, promotes the type of world community that benefits humanity.  Because all the people of Earth can see the Moon, it can serve as a tangible symbol that no tyrant can erase of what humanity can accomplish if we work together in peace.
  • Accelerate the timetable to destinations beyond. Establishing the infrastructure to support an ILRP sooner rather than later puts in place much of the required capabilities for human exploration and development of NEOs and Mars earlier than currently planned.  As stated in the Augustine Report "By first exploring the Moon, we could develop the operational skills and technology for landing on, launching from and working on a planetary surface. In the process, we could acquire an understanding of human adaptation to another world that would one day allow us to go to Mars."
  • A message of optimism and hope for the future at a time when we cannot save our way out of an economic crisis.  We need new solutions, new products, new ideas to fuel a viable and sustainable future.  Permanent human settlements beyond Earth float all boats.
  • Transition from a space faring nation to a nation of spacefarers.  We need more minds, eyes, and fingers in space to reap the vast untapped potential that space offers.  This in turn fuels new discoveries, new industries, and new opportunities for economic growth.
  • Transforming Discoveries.  On the day he died, one of history's greatest explorer scientsts, Baruch Blumberg, a man who literally saved millions of lives, made the following observation in his keynote address at the International Lunar Research Park Exploratory Workshop.  "We've identified a number of worthy reasons to establish a research park on the Moon.  But the real value in it is the one we haven't mentioned, because we don't know yet what it is."
The development of a new world, and especially of new worlds, cannot be constrained to just one purpose.

Next Generation IT. 
Most of the construction of the International Lunar Research Park will be done tele-robotically or autonomously to create sustainable (green) technologies and capabilities. 

This is an IT driven strategy with as much emphasis on human factors and human development as on machines and rockets. 

Extreme Green.  The need to live on a world with few resources to sustain life requires solutions that should yield valuable technologies for use on Earth. 

 Water and waste management, recycling, energy production and efficiency, ecological life support, and air revitalization technologies, are among  the near-term marketable spinoffs expected from the International Lunar Research Park development.

Skills for 21st Century Jobs.

Accomplishing this objective will require the nation’s investment in universities nationwide to develop the advanced IT solutions necessary for implementing the greatest IT collaborative construction project in history – including building the first university whose campus is on another world.  

Students whose undergraduate and graduate classes telerobotically build the Lunar University, under NASA and industry supervision and mentorship, may be the ones who someday travel to teach there.

There is a near term payoff regardless of how long the enterprise takes. 

An entire generation would gain an extraordinary competitive edge via demanding hands-on experiences in the technologies of the future – teleoperation, robotics, and autonomous systems. 

These skills are as applicable to building tomorrow’s roads, mass-producing green solutions, and expanding the U.S. manufacturing base as they are to building the International Lunar Research Park.

Community Center for the Global Village

But perhaps the greatest benefits that will accrue will be those for humanity as we come together as neighbors in the global village to build a center on the Moon that we can all share and use to create a better future for all.

"Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us.

On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of,

every human being who ever was, lived out their lives.

The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines,

every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization,

every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child,

inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician,

every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,”

every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there –

on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam." 

Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot.

But is that humanity's only option for the future?

Very different opportunities are available to people who can thrive beyond Earth,
versus those whose destinies are constrained to a single world.

Lynn Harper,
Mar 22, 2011, 1:16 PM