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The moon is too rich to be ignored

It's clear from the press releases from NASA these days that the space agency has little interest in sending people back to the moon. 

This might have something to do with President Obama's speech at Kennedy Space Center in 2010 where he [in]famously said, "Now, I understand that some believe that we should attempt a return to the surface of the Moon  . . . but I just have to say pretty bluntly here: We’ve been there before. Buzz has been there." 

Well, Mr. President, Buzz Aldrin has indeed been there but I haven't, neither have you, and neither have a lot of other folks who would love to go, not only to explore but to enrich our country. 

The moon beckons because we have the technology to get there, we already know a lot about it, and most of what we know is enticing. 

In fact, I think an economic case can be made to put our country's focus back on the moon.

Over the years, Washington has consistently looked at space as a place to go for science and inspiration but has never recognized the wealth-producing arguments for it. 

This is foolish because space, and especially the moon, has tremendous industrial potential. Just last week, the International Nuclear Fusion Project announced its intention to construct a fusion reactor that could produce sustainable, cheap, and clean electricity. 

For those of us who want the moon to be developed, that's important because the lunar surface is drenched with an isotope called Helium-3, the perfect fuel for fusion reactors. 

Doesn't it make sense to go there and start figuring out how to recover it? Besides Helium-3, the moon has plenty of thorium, aluminum, calcium, nickel, magnesium, silicon, titanium and possibly even gold.

We also know the moon is much wetter than we used to think and might hold enough water to support a civilization of hardy pioneers and miners. Of course, as a believer in mankind's economic future on the moon, I've given all this a lot of thought. 

My Helium-3 novels beginning with "Crater" and continuing with "Crescent" tell adventuresome stories of pioneers living on that dusty, crater-pocked sphere and mining its riches. 

Among the fans for my series are an interesting set of youngsters. They might not be noticed much because they don't wave signs and yell slogans but a lot of young people world-wide are not only budding capitalists but also admire the spirituality of family and sacrifice found on a raw frontier. They are my true hope for mankind's future in space and especially on the moon.

To be sure, I am not anti-Mars or anti-asteroid or anti-any destination in space. I like the idea of exploring everywhere out there but the moon beckons because we have the technology to get there, we already know a lot about it, and most of what we know is enticing. 

Mining its wealth could alleviate many strains in our economy which makes it all the more unfortunate that the present leadership in Washington has decided not to build the infrastructure to do it. 

Naturally, I believe that's short-sighted but I also believe that no matter what governments do, people will eventually go where the resources they need are located, even if that takes them to the moon. 

There are, in fact, groups working in that direction such as the Golden Spike Company headed up by Alan Stern, former director of NASA's Science Mission Directorate. This gives me confidence that the moon is too rich to be ignored forever, even by a president who says he isn't interested because "Buzz" has already been there.

Homer Hickam, is author of "Crescent" and the #1 New York Times best-seller "Rocket Boys" series.