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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

Swing voters oppose Texas abortion law

Protesters at a rally at the Texas State Capitol. Photo: Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images

All 10 swing voters in Axios’ latest focus groups — including those who described themselves as "pro-life" — said they oppose Texas' new anti-abortion law.

Why it matters: If their responses reflect larger patterns in U.S. society, this could hurt Republicans with women and independents in next year's midterm elections. The swing voters cited overreach, invasion of privacy and concerns about frivolous lawsuits jamming up the courts.

59 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Biden bombs with Manchin

Then-Vice President Joe Biden conducts a ceremonial swearing-in for Sen. Joe Manchin in 2010. Photo: Tom Williams/Roll Call

President Biden failed to persuade Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to agree to spending $3.5 trillion on the Democrats' budget reconciliation package during their Oval Office meeting on Wednesday, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Defying a president from his own party — face-to-face — is the strongest indication yet Manchin is serious about cutting specific programs and limiting the price tag of any potential bill to $1.5 trillion. His insistence could blow up the deal for progressives and others.

Biden blindsides Europe with new AUKUS alliance on China

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images

President Biden is constructing and deepening new alliances to strengthen the U.S. position in its showdown with China, but he risks alienating longstanding allies in the process.

Why it matters: Biden heralded a new agreement to help Australia acquire nuclear submarines as part of a trilateral security pact with the U.K. and the U.S. as an "historic step" to update U.S. alliances to face new challenges. The message from French foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, was quite different.