In their June 24 Wednesday Opinion essay, “Send the SpaceX Dragon to the moon,” Robert Zubrin and Homer Hickam suggest ways they believe would give the United States a better chance of returning astronauts to the moon by 2024. Aside from a reference to unspecified “economic, scientific and world leadership goals,” they give no hint of why 2024 is better than 2025 or 2026, but the later dates would be after a second term for President Trump would end.

We beat the rest of the world to the moon more than 50 years ago. There’s little to be gained in prestige by doing it again. Scientifically, automated spacecraft can do essentially everything astronauts can, and at a small fraction of the cost. Some propose doing to the moon what we’ve done to much of West Virginia and many other mining sites around the world. Surely there is nothing so valuable there that we need to do that, unless it’s to access materials needed to build human habitats. Why do that?

Let’s concentrate on real problems here on Earth, including climate change, rather than create new ones on the moon, at huge cost.

Bob AllnuttBethesda

The writer was an assistant administrator of NASA from 1967 to 1970 and associate deputy
administrator from 1978 to 1983.