5 March 1998
CONTACT: Karen Rugg, 202-543-1900
(Washington, DC) -- March 5, 1998 -- The National Space Society (NSS) said today that general media and public response to NASA's announcement of evidence from the Lunar Prospector orbiter that water ice exists at the north and south poles of the Moon has been muted.
"At the least, today's news confirms there are many surprises still awaiting us in our solar system, and that they can be as close as our own backyard," said Ms. Pat Dasch, executive director for the NSS. "International media are giving this news an extremely high profile; we still seem to need to catch on to its significance here in the U.S."
The finding of water ice validates the idea of "living off the land" through the use of "in-situ" materials (materials that are "in place"). This is a core concept in proposals to send humans to Mars, with its atmosphere. In the Moon's case, the water ice that has been discovered would offer both water for human consumption, and oxygen and hydrogen to produce fuel.
"We don't have to carry it all with us, which has positive ramifications for launch costs," said Ms. Dasch. "Current plans to conduct experiments on producing in-situ propellant during the Mars 2001 mission become increasingly attractive in light of today's news."
The Society also finds significance in the quantity of water ice that has been discovered. According to NASA, even the lowest estimated amount would be enough to sustain a human community numbered in the hundreds for almost a century on the Moon without recycling.
"Does this news herald the beginning of the 'Moon Rush'?," stated Ms. Dasch. "We expect yes; certainly the scientific phase. But then the rush will continue in ways we couldn't have foreseen when the NSS began our 'Return to the Moon' campaign over five years ago."
The National Space Society, founded in 1974, is an independent, nonprofit space advocacy organization headquartered in Washington, DC. Its 23,000 members and 90 chapters around the world actively promote a spacefaring civilization. Information on NSS and space exploration is available at http://www.nss.org/.