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Humans and the moon: A closer look at an evolving relationship


The moon is cycling through the news ahead of a new chapter in space. The first private mission to touch down on the lunar surface may land as early as February. Separately, NASA aims to send astronauts back to the moon within the next few years

Rebecca Boyle, a science journalist, urges deeper interrogation into the impulse to return more than 50 years after the last American landing. Controversy surfaced late last year when the Navajo Nation decried a commercial mission for carrying human remains, arguing that such deposits on the moon would desecrate sacred space. (That spacecraft, however, failed midflight.)

Why We Wrote This

The moon is back: Private companies are attempting lunar landings this year, and NASA is preparing to return astronauts. One science journalist offers perspective on stewarding the new phase of exploration.

Ms. Boyle’s new book, “Our Moon,” traces the closely intertwined relationship among the moon, Earth, and humanity. In an interview with the Monitor, Ms. Boyle explores lunar stewardship, moon mining, and the case for returning people to the pearly satellite. 

“There’s a lot of excitement, and there’s a lot of interest in making money, or creating a new lunar economy of some kind,” says Ms. Boyle. “I think there maybe is less discussion about how that should look, or who should get to have a part in that.”

The moon is cycling through the news ahead of a new chapter in space. The first private mission to touch down on the lunar surface may land as early as February. Separately, NASA aims to send astronauts back to the moon within the next few years

Rebecca Boyle, a science journalist, urges deeper interrogation into the impulse to return more than 50 years after the last American landing. Controversy surfaced late last year when the Navajo Nation decried a commercial mission for carrying human remains, arguing that such deposits on the moon would desecrate sacred space. (That spacecraft, however, failed midflight.)

Ms. Boyle’s new book, “Our Moon: How Earth’s Celestial Companion Transformed the Planet, Guided Evolution, and Made Us Who We Are,” traces the closely intertwined relationship among the moon, Earth, and humanity. In an interview with the Monitor, Ms. Boyle explores lunar stewardship, moon mining, and the case for returning people to the pearly satellite. This conversation has been edited and condensed.

Why We Wrote This

The moon is back: Private companies are attempting lunar landings this year, and NASA is preparing to return astronauts. One science journalist offers perspective on stewarding the new phase of exploration.

We may soon see the first private-mission moon landing. What are your hopes, or concerns, tied to this new era in space? 

I hope that the next lander succeeds. … I also hope that people are more aware of what is going on up there. I think the issue with the cremated human remains just shows that there wasn’t a lot of awareness around this whole program.

I’ve written about this for years, but I write about it in science magazines. It doesn’t get as much attention, I think, from the mainstream, non-scientific-minded press. And I think it should. It’s the moon! 



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