From Harrison ("Jack") Schmitt -- Apollo 17

Subject: 35th Anniversary
From: "Harrison H. Schmitt" <..........>
Date: Mon, 10 May 2004 14:25:59 -0700
Cc: ......

Greetings and a hardy thank you to all Apollo veterans and their families
attending. I wish I could be with you and my many other friends in

You helped Apollo established a new evolutionary status for human beings in
the solar system. The human species now has accessible, new ecological
niches, away from the home planet, that expand our envelope for species
survival. Our knowledge of the Moon, and now of Mars, shows that eventually
humans can live on these bodies independently of support from Earth. The
resources exist on both that are necessary for human life.

On the Moon, solar wind derived hydrogen exists in the lunar soils at
concentrations between 50 and 150 parts per million and may be even much
higher, particularly in the polar regions. The heating necessary to
release the hydrogen causes it to react with soil minerals to produce water,
about one ton of water per two tons of hydrogen. Local deposits of
water-ice may exist at high latitudes as well. Helium and nitrogen and
carbon compounds are also released in significant quantities. The fertility
of the lunar soil has been demonstrated so food production in properly
shielded facilities clearly is possible. On Mars, large quantities of
water-ice exist near the Martian surface from which oxygen and hydrogen can
be produced. The Martian carbon dioxide dominated atmosphere can provide
methane based fuels for many purposes.

Importantly for the economy of lunar settlers and for those left behind on
Earth, about 1/2400 of the lunar helium is a light isotope, helium-3.
Helium-3 has the potential to be a highly valuable export to Earth for use
as a fuel for fusion electrical power production with a probably value
relative to coal of about $140 million per 100 kg. The implications of this
lunar resource on the personal and environmental well-being of human beings
on Earth are incalculable
Apollo also accelerated improvements in the human condition for billions of
people on Earth. The technological foundations expanded by or because of
Apollo have revolutionized the world's use of communications, computers,
medical diagnostics and care, transportation, weather and climate
forecasting, energy conversion systems, new materials, systems engineering,
project management, and many other applications of human ingenuity.

An equivalent beneficiary of Apollo has been and continues to be the
science of the Earth, planets, and solar system. From the samples collected
and placed in context by the astronauts came a first order understanding of
the origin and history of the Moon. Debates related to specific questions
about lunar origin and history continue, however, hypotheses can be tested
using the real information from samples. Using the foundation provided by
Apollo exploration, subsequent remote sensing from lunar orbit by the
Galileo, Clementine and Lunar Prospector missions can be broadly interpreted
to provide a more global context to our interpretations of events on the
Moon. Those events included a general perspective of the cratering history
of the inner solar system unavailable on any other body other than possibly
the distant and currently inaccessible planet Mercury. The inner solar
system's cratering history has provided a guide to the early history of
Earth, Venus, Mars, and Mercury, including new insights into the conditions
under which life's precursors and life itself formed on Earth, and probably
on Mars. Combined with the delineation of the potential of lunar resources
discussed above, this was not too shabby a result for a Cold War stimulated
effort that initially did not consider science as a beneficiary.

I hope that this has not been too long, but you can see I think you did a
fantastic job and have given us the foundation to return to the Moon and to
settle the solar system.

Harrison H. Schmitt
Apollo 17 Astronaut