posted on Nov, 4 2007 @ 02:38 PM
The International Space Station (ISS) was/is intended as a platform for conducting microgravity research - how materials/chemicals/biological
specimens, etc. react to a microgravity environment. The moon's gravity is about 1/6 G - low, but not low enough to conduct this sort of research.
I think you're a little confused about what we'd be able to do once on the moon and what kind of craft we'd use to get there. I draw this
conclusion from your statement that, quote:
From the moon you would be able to fly a an airplane into space due to the lack of atmosphere. Which would lead to explorations of other planets like
Mars Venus and other moons such as Europa.
Spacecraft shaped like aircraft - like the space shuttle - need an atmosphere to function in an aircraft-like manner. Wings are of no advantage on
the moon - matter of fact they are a disadvantage, because wings add weight, and that weight must be lugged out of Earth's gravity well and
the moon's gravity well on each round-trip from the Earth to the moon.
Having a moon base will not make it easier to explore Mars, Venus, or Europa. There's no fuel/energy advantage in using the moon as a staging area
for such missions (assuming the architecture used to create them follows a modular approach like we have used with the ISS). The environment on the
moon isn't closely analogous to any of those environments (Mars, Venus, etc.), so the practical experience we gain from having a moon base is limited
in terms of skill-set crossover.
As for why we created the space station, the funny thing is that we built the station as a place for the Space Shuttle to go - and now we're keeping
the Space Shuttle in service just long enough to finish the space station. Granted, it isn't funny in the more traditional "ha-ha" sense of the
word, but still...
The ISS is an important facility to have access to - partially because of the research that we will, eventually, conduct there. But it is more
important as a learning tool, a facility that teaches us how to live and work and solve problems in space - and, perhaps most importantly, it has
already taught us how NOT to build a space station in the future.