There is only one other natural object in space that humanity has set foot on, the Moon.
In 1969 when the crew of Apollo II touched down and Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the Moon for the first time humanity caught a glimpse of our possible future.
A multi-planet species. Spreading out across the Solar System, onto Mars, into the asteroid belt and further.
But since Apollo II and the following Apollo missions the lustre of space travel seemed to have worn off, until recently.
Reinvigorated by private industries, space flight and space exploration has once again caught the imagination of the world. So much so that in 2024, NASA plans to land another crew on the Moon, for the first time in almost fifty years.
Why the Moon? Because it is symbolic of the greatest period of American achievement. It is a nostalgia kick to a country that seems to be teetering on the edge of anarchy. But while that may be part of the reason, it isn’t the only one.
The Moon is a vital base for future exploration. If humanity wants to reach out and grasp the stars it can’t do it from Earth. It’s too expensive, both economically and materially to launch the required fleet of vehicles to other planets, even relatively close ones like Mars, from Earth.
The Moon provides a solution for that. With almost 1/8th of Earth’s gravity, the Moon provides a launch pad that is more cost effective and easier to expand from.
Yes, it would require setting up a near self-sufficient Moon base, but that is easier to do on the Moon, and far cheaper in the long run than continuing to launch from Earth.
When the Earth was forming it was hit by a Mars sized protoplanet and one of the resulting fragments became the Moon. That was billions of years ago, but without that twist of fate the Earth wouldn’t be what it is today, and humanity wouldn’t have the opportunity that the Moon provides to expand beyond the atmosphere of our planet.