In order for governments, private agencies, and non-governmental organizations to work towards returning to the Moon, the economic case has to be sound. While spaceflight requires large upfront investments, the money generated through jobs and industry development throughout all phases of lunar settlement, and lunar resources and services once human presence is established on the Moon, make that investment worthwhile.
Space exploration utilizes and creates new markets for existing technologies, and also inspires the creation of new technologies. The innovations that have taken place due to space activities have resulted in numerous spin-offs in every conceivable field, which benefits life on Earth. While space activities require significant investment, the societal impact of space spin offs indicates that this investment is a good one.
The Moon is a compelling science case, as discovering more about lunar geology and geophysics will allow us to understand the events that shaped the formation of our solar system. The Moon also constitutes a prime location from which to conduct scientific research in astronomy, hypogravity medicine, biology, and other fields. While the lunar environment itself poses exploration challenges, the development of new technology and techniques to combat the harshness of the Moon will prepare space actors for the next steps of Deep Space exploration.
The Moon is well represented throughout human culture and literature. Returning to the Moon could inspire future generations to be involved with exploration, to reinterpret our relationship with the Moon through various art forms, and create new ways of interacting with Earth. However, mitigation measures may need to be put in place to ensure that the Moon remains the “common heritage of all humankind.”
Current military involvement in space focuses primarily on the protection of assets and territory. Returning to the Moon would offer security benefits to Earth as a whole, as the Moon would provide the ideal location from which to protect Earth from external threats, and to collaborate internationally to develop methods of dealing with the harsh environments caused by natural disasters and other Earth centric threats to humanity.
The creation of policy is not a reason to go to the Moon in itself. However, in order to support the other rationales explored in this chapter, policy must be created to guide space actors toward ethics of sustainability and cooperation, and to mitigate the risks that are posed by the somewhat unclear current regulations regarding resource extraction and settlement on the Moon.