By Oliver Grayson '18
Photography Courtesy Oliver Grayson '18
"We go to the moon not because it is easy, but because it is hard," thundered the recording of President John F. Kennedy from the projector screen. Echoing his words on the stage stood the acclaimed astronaut, Buzz Aldrin, giving an impassioned speech driving the audience back to the moon and then on to Mars. "Get Your Ass To Mars", proclaimed the shirt beneath his American flag suspenders, as scientists, CEOs, engineers, and high school students listened with rapt attention to the orbital diagrams he drew with his words.
I honestly had trouble processing exactly what was happening when I first heard about the inaugural International MoonBase Summit conference. A conference on building a permanent colony on the moon in only the next few years? Pure science fiction. But then I arrived, and signed in, marking my name down on the same sheet of paper that bore the name "Buzz Aldrin". I knew right away: this could really happen.
Buzz Aldrin was always a childhood hero of mine - growing up, I wanted to go to the moon just like him and Neil Armstrong. At the conference, I finally got a chance to meet him and other people of such scientific caliber. Among all those famous, successful, and intelligent people, I felt a little out of place. But that quickly faded, as I and my fellow high schoolers quickly became engaged in planning how to build the moon-base-on-the-moon. Organized by Jim Keravala, the CEO of Offworld, we were able to sit at the very same table and work on the same problems. From debating how to fund the simulation base, to sketching out robotic operations, to choosing the very crater in which the final base should be, we sat at the very heart of the plans for the base. Representatives from schools across the state were there - three HPA students, a student from Hawaii Technology Academy, a group from Makua Lani Christian Academy, another from Punahou School in Honolulu, along with several other high schools.
After the summit was complete, we began working on the mission itself and designing a Hawaiian analogue base that would simulate the surface of the moon, in the same vein as Henk Rogers' HI-SEAS. Situated in the lava fields on Hawai'i Island between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, the base would allow future astronauts to train and be a testing ground for robotics, life support systems, and other essential technology.
As Mr. Rogers said (referring to us!), "these are the people who will actually go" to the moon. We are the perfect age to fulfill that mission; by the time the group graduates college in the mid-2020's, we as a species will be poised to expand on to the moon to make the Earth's dreams - unlimited energy, a low-gravity spaceyard - a reality. Now fast forward a decade: we will be in our 30's, according to Buzz Aldrin, the perfect age for a few pioneers to commit to living on the red planet and leaving the Earth behind forever. We are the generation that can realize the goals that science fiction has dreamed of for the last century. The tech is finally here - it's time for the people to catch up.