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From our Expert Voices conversation on what we could learn from a new human trip to the Moon.

Returning to the Moon makes good scientific and economic sense and will help enable sustainable human exploration of Mars.

  • There are volatile deposits on the Moon that contain water, establishing the presence of both human-life-support consumables and rocket fuel for human missions to Mars that can be created by recombining hydrogen and oxygen.
  • A protective sheath of water derived from the Moon could also be put around the human-rated capsule for radiation protection. This would be almost cost-prohibitive to launch from Earth.

What's needed: The next step is to find out if these resources are actually reserves that can be extracted, refined, transported and used. Prospecting rovers with drilling capabilities will be essential in that effort.

Why now: Recent efforts to send astronauts to the Moon have fallen through but this time is different in key ways:

  1. Fresh leadership: The Moon has been portrayed as a distraction, but the current nominee for NASA Administrator, James Bridenstine, would have the chance to refocus the agency.
  2. New space race: China is building its own capabilities for space travel, which should spur the U.S. to get back to the Moon.
  3. Unified focus: Our international partners have a common near-term goal of reaching the Moon, not Mars or asteroids. Eight landed lunar missions are planned between now and 2025, all focused on resource exploration and possible extraction.

The bottom line: The Moon has important resources. It's imperative the U.S. be a leader, and not a follower, as humanity expands into the solar system.

Other voices in the conversation:

Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
2 hours ago - World

How Biden might tackle the Iran deal

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Four more years of President Trump would almost certainly kill the Iran nuclear deal — but the election of Joe Biden wouldn’t necessarily save it.

The big picture: Rescuing the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is near the top of Biden's foreign policy priority list. He says he'd re-enter the deal once Iran returns to compliance, and use it as the basis on which to negotiate a broader and longer-lasting deal with Iran.

Kamala Harris, the new left's insider

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images     

Progressive leaders see Sen. Kamala Harris, if she's elected vice president, as their conduit to a post-Biden Democratic Party where the power will be in younger, more diverse and more liberal hands.

  • Why it matters: The party's rising left sees Harris as the best hope for penetrating Joe Biden's older, largely white inner circle.

If Biden wins, Harris will become the first woman, first Black American and first Indian American to serve as a U.S. vice president — and would instantly be seen as the first in line for the presidency should Biden decide against seeking a second term.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Large coronavirus outbreaks leading to high death rates — Coronavirus cases are at an all-time high ahead of Election Day — U.S. tops 88,000 COVID-19 cases, setting new single-day record.
  2. Politics: States beg for Warp Speed billions.
  3. World: Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases.
  4. 🎧Podcast: The vaccine race turns toward nationalism.