Space Conference Hears Call for US Return to the Moon
By David E. Hubler
Contributor, In Space News
The annual International Space Development Conference in Arlington, Virginia, opened on Thursday under the slogan, “Back to the Moon to Stay.”
Registrations were running at a record high for the four-day event, according to ISDC 2019 conference chairman Dr. Greg Autry, editor of Ad Astra magazine.
In addition to a lineup of well-known space authorities, panel discussions and award presentations, conference attendees can take advantage of a concurrent, four-day film festival of space-related documentaries, TV series and film trailers.
On Thursday morning, space scientists, scholars, amateur enthusiasts, students from several nations and corporation leaders crowded into the main ballroom of the Sheraton Pentagon City Hotel to hear the first keynote address. Mark Sirangelo, a former Special Assistant to the NASA Administrator and scholar in residence at the University of Colorado, explained: “How to Get Back to the Moon.”
Sirangelo is a licensed pilot and former officer in the U.S. military. He also served on the Defense Innovation Board for the Secretary of Defense and as Chief Innovation Officer for the state of Colorado.
Sirangelo Notes that Walt Disney’s Enthusiasm Popularized the Idea of Space Exploration
In his opening remarks, Sirangelo credited Walt Disney’s early enthusiasm as a catalyst for popularizing space exploration and for “seeing things from a different perspective that can change the world.” It was Disney’s vision that established the futuristic attractions at Anaheim’s Disneyland such as Tomorrowland, and other space-themed attractions at Disney parks after his death.
NASA’s Apollo program from 1961 to 1975 “stimulated the world,” Sirangelo noted. We need something like that type of program again, he said, that will result in “a sustained presence on and around the moon.”
Sirangelo Calls for Improvements to US Space and Lunar Rover Programs
Sirangelo called for the reestablishment of the U.S. space program and an upgraded Lunar Rover program. “We are getting closer to seeing the economic value of a moon landing again,” he said, predicting that we will see that landing by 2024.
Also, Sirangelo asked how will we continue our international cooperation with other nations when the International Space Station (ISS) program ends? That date is expected to be 2028. So far, ISS cooperation has succeeded despite “what’s going on the earth,” Sirangelo noted, without citing specific problems such as U.S.-Russia and U.S.-China relations and the current reliance on Russia for U.S. astronaut journeys to the ISS.
“It’s a huge organizational challenge,” Sirangelo acknowledged. “It will need a small group of very smart people again to make it happen.”
Sirangelo likened that group of people to those who had participated in the D-Day invasion of Nazi-held France, the 75th anniversary of which was simultaneously being commemorated at Normandy while Sirangelo was speaking.
“The idea of leadership is very important,” he underscored. “Do it or don’t do it. We can’t just try; we can’t do this halfway.”