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ANALYSIS

Everybody’s talking about water on the moon

A full moon with the top covered by a cloud.
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
Ice is present on the poles of the Moon in places that never see sunlight.
  • Tim Fernholz
By Tim Fernholz

Senior reporter

Since Galileo spotted mountains on the moon in the seventeenth century, humans have itched to go there.

When the Apollo missions made that a reality in 1969, the US space program began envisioning an elaborate future on the moon. In 1984, a NASA symposium on the topic was convened after its organizers “realized the space transportation technology of the year 2000 would be capable of routinely carrying payloads to the moon” and thought they should start planning ahead.

Unfortunately, no nation on Earth possessed space transportation technology capable of routine visits to the moon by 2000. Moreover, we had little idea of the true nature of the lunar surface.

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