Re: The Title of the Article
The public thinks of manned space missions in terms of a "flags and footprints" mission. It may feel good and be exciting. It may impress other countries. But what's the point?
I think there are many. It's part of human nature to want to explore and find out "What's over that hill?". So for the Moon, we've partially answered that question, ie we've been there, and so have our robots. But there are other reasons.
So we keep being told about "Peak X" and resource depletion. There are zillions of tonnes of resources floating above our heads. OK, so there's a huge cost involved in exploitation, or maybe there's some stuff on the Moon or in asteroids that might be worth the cost, eg theories about Tritium abundance. That would be handy if we crack fusion using aneutronic designs, which currently use Tritium fuel. And fusion doesn't really have any proliferation risk (other than economic), and is much less risky than trying to beam gigawatts of energy down to Earth from solar power sats*.
Or Greta says "We're Doomed", and "Extinction Rebellion" echo that cry. So having an off-world life raft would seem like a sensible idea. And establishing a lunar, or large space station would cost less than we've already spent on going back to the pre-Industrial era and building windmills..
It might be possible to fabricate useful stuff in space due to microgravity. Or harder, eg my favorite lunarcrete. On Earth, simple to pour concrete into forms and wait for it to cure. A bit more challenging on the Moon, but there's always vacuum forming. Or we might be able to use cheap solar power to produce high-energy stuff in space. Something that's getting increasingly expensive on Earth due to the rush to build those windmills..
Or it's just one of those stretch goals to promote STEM and get kids excited about the future. Personally I'd like to see it done as a multi-national project, but that would mean bureaucracy and fraud. It may have been the US that put a man (ok, person) on the Moon, but like he said, that was just one small, first step for mankind (ok, personkind).
* It's.. strange that Greens support the idea of beaming renewable power down from space given their usual electrosensitiveness & FUD. The concept seems.. reasonable, but there are obviously quite a few risks in trying to beam any significant power down from orbit. Or benefits. Hey, Iran, check out our new MASER!