Back to the Moon – with Company

The moon beckons again – for U.S., 8 other nations
Mike Swift
San Jose Mercury News

In hopes of discovering clues to the origin of life on Earth, the United States and eight other nations signed a landmark agreement at NASA’s Ames Research Center this week that scientists hope will lay the groundwork for a new generation of lunar exploration and science.

Unlike the all-American Apollo program, the new agreement sees a multinational fleet of robot spacecraft returning to the moon in coming years, with the maturing space programs of countries like India, Germany and South Korea playing key roles in an effort that ultimately would lead to the return of astronauts.

“It’s sort of like the beginning of a beautiful friendship, like at the end of ‘Casablanca,’ ” James Green, director of NASA’s planetary science division, said at Moffett Field this week.