BACK TO THE MOON….The latest from NASA:

NASA announced plans on Monday for a permanent base on the Moon, to be started soon after astronauts return there around 2020.

….Scott Horowitz, NASA?s associate administrator for exploration, said crews of four astronauts would make weeklong missions to the Moon starting around 2020….NASA gave no cost estimate for the program and no design details for the base.

No design details. I can live with that. On the other hand, I would like to have some clue about why NASA wants to go to the moon, something that’s conspicuously missing from the New York Times account.

Not completely missing, though. There’s this:

A site near the lunar South Pole, like the Shackleton Crater, would provide enough sunlight for power generation. It is also near possible deposits of valuable minerals.

From this site, Mr. Cooke said, other nations could add scientific laboratories or observatories, and commercial concerns might want to process rocket fuel and other products from water and other materials that might be found in the ground nearby.

Valuable minerals? Manufacturing of rocket fuel and “other materials”? Scientific laboratories? Did they crib this stuff out of a science fiction novel from the 50s? The scientific community seems barely able to think up anything useful to do with the International Space Station, and that even has zero gee as a selling point.

I love the space program, but if we’re going to spend a few hundred billion dollars on this program shouldn’t they at least pretend that they’re going to accomplish something?