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STEWARDSHIP: Environment & Energy | July 31, 1989



An Unpublished Letter to Los Angeles Times

Delicia Bracegirdle writes, "I can't see that it did any good for us to put men on the moon, except to say we can do it, and that cost enough billions." That's a legitimate concern, which deserves due consideration.

Especially because of such employment generated as Christopher Schilling writes about, every dollar that's been spent on the space program has generated three dollars' worth of good in our economy -- as much as spending on education, over half-again as much as spending on other social programs, and over twice as much as spending on defense programs [These are comparisons of "multiplier effects"]. And I doubt that this generally accepted figure even takes into account the inestimable benefits derived from modern computers, helping countless consumers and workers in every walk of life and built around the computer microchip -- developed by N.A.S.A. to miniaturize electronic components to fit aboard the tight quarters of our spaceships.

Although I doubt that $400 billion spent on a trip to the dead planet of Mars would show such a return (even considering the international good will generated if it were made a joint venture with the Soviets, Europeans, and Japanese), one day our people will realize that the one and only way to provide the bulk of our energy needs -- not only to maintain our standards of living but also to raise them both at home and abroad -- while at the same time protecting the environment God gave us to live in -- from fossil fuels' greenhouse-effect gases and nuclear fuels' radioactive wastes -- is to construct orbiting solar-energy satellites, using materials mined from the moon (as my old professor at college advocated 15 years ago, as Dr. Gerard K. O'Neill outlined in the Times on March 7th of this year, and as the Soviets and Japanese are working on even as we speak). The survival and prosperity of our nation and world are dependent on the survival and prosperity of our space program: Nothing else will do.

I'm proud to help keep the legacy of J.F.K. alive!

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