Why the Moon? Why not focus on Mars?
All the materials are already on the Moon to make solar panels in the form of dirt. (See Girard O'Neil) The technology for beaming the energy back to Earth from the Moon is already in place. NASA is very good at doing tests, they are not as good on follow-through. The Moon has no clouds, it can absorb solar power 24 hours a day for two weeks solid, there is no atmosphere so energy can be gotten directly from the Sun, and no people will be displaced in gathering the energy.
Helium 3 can be used for clean nuclear fusion. Helium 3 is almost non-existent on Earth. On the Moon, it is impacted into the soil and would be retrieved by heating the soil. There is not enough Helium 3 on Earth to develop reactors for clean nuclear fusion. But there is on the Moon.
The best place to do radio astronomy is the far side of the Moon because the radio waves from Earth are blocked. Also there is no atmosphere to interfere with collection of data.
Let's get storage and experiments with dangerous diseases out of our biosphere and on to the Moon where there is no atmosphere for the diseases to live in. Aside from that, the Moon is separate from the Earth and if there was an accidental escape of pathogens, no death would result.
If you want to work with self-reproducing nanotechnology, the best place is the Moon since if it gets out of control, people will not be killed and we won't be destroying our environment.
Geology and Regular Astronomy
The ancient crust of the Earth formed the Moon when a Mars-sized asteroid whacked the Earth and part of the crust was knocked away and form the Moon. Studying Moon geology will inform our knowledge of ancient Earth geology.
Mars is one year away. There is no way to develop Mars if we haven't practiced on the Moon. If we can't live, build, sustain on the Moon, we won't be able to do it on Mars either. The lessons on the Moon will let us know how to succeed on Mars. Both are places where we can't breathe and there is no water.
If we had just kept going with Saturn V, we would have been at Mars twenty years ago.
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