Michael Potter Battles Science Guy Bill Nye on Moon Mission


“Orphans of Apollo” Director Michael Potter goes tete-a-tete with Bill Nye the Science Guy on the pages of The Los Angeles Times today.

The topic: whether we should return to the moon.

Potter says yes – with a slimmed down NASA and the support of the private sector:

The lesson of the last 40 years is that the government has proved it can run neither efficient nor sustainable space activities. More than at any moment in its history, NASA needs the private sector to play a critical role in space exploration. At the signing of the next big commercial deal between NASA and a private company, let us hear the celebratory toast, “To the moon and beyond!”

Nye is a Get Your Ass to Mars man, through and through. The Science Guy say Potter is stuck in the past:

Well, Michael, near as I can tell, you and others are convinced that the United States needs to send U.S. astronauts back to the moon to prove something — that the U.S. can still achieve the same things it did 40 years ago. As vice president of the Planetary Society, I have observed that this strong interest in having the U.S. return people to the moon is generational. If you’re of a certain age, old enough to remember 1969, you are more likely to want to send Americans back there. If you’re young, or, if I may, young of mind, you don’t find those billions of moon dollars worth spending.

People in your camp, Michael, assert that the U.S. must go back to the moon before we do anything new. We have to go back to learn or relearn how to live and work on another world or in space. On my side, we assert that it’s too costly, in terms of fuel and time, in terms of dollars and cents, if what you really want to do is go to Mars. We can leave from here, no moon base needed.

Read the full exchange.