There are several stimulating arguments for why there is a need to return to the moon. 1) Although we have “been there, done that,” the United States only visited the moon 6 times in the history of the Apollo program. Imagine if America had only been visited six times and then explorers stopped. Uncountable amounts of resources and chances for inhabitation would have been missed and life as we know it today would not exist. As of now we know very little about its natural resources. In fact, on the Apollo 17 mission revealed that Helium 3, an isotope found only in rare quantities on Earth, exists in somewhat large quantities on the moon. This could be very valuable in thermo nuclear fusion, as it does not make reactors radioactive. Of course, the argument could be made that these options could be explored through use of robotics, thus eliminating the need for humans to return to the moon. 2) Setting up a permanent lunar camp could both give astronauts a much closer destination than Mars or an asteroid to practice interplanetary space travel and occupation that can later be modified for other planetary use. The other advantage of a lunar camp would be a more advantageous setting for searching for extra-terrestrial life. If a camp could be set up on the far side of the moon, this would eliminate problems caused by the moon getting in the way of signals we might otherwise be able to catch.
With robots, absolutely. With people, I don’t think so. Manned missions are much more costly, and less productive than, robotic missions. Moving farther and farther out into space is the next stage in human exploration, but in the near future, its not a necessity — its more of an inevitability.
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