Get involved! Readers’ questions answered by Science Museum experts

What’s inside a black hole? Where does dust come from? How fast can a dolphin swim? How do they get chocolate on Maltesers without leaving a little flat bit? There are many questions about the world that perplex human beings, but thankfully some help is at hand from How It Works magazine and the Science Museum

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Every issue a panel of experts from the Science Museum will be applying their expert knowledge to our readers’ questions and you can get involved by either mailing us your question at [email protected] or by leaving a message on the forum. We can’t guarantee an immediate answer, but we promise that the best questions will find their way into the pages of How it Works.  In the meantime enjoy these questions and answers from our first issue on sale 29/10.

“When were we last on the moon and why haven’t we been back since?”


Gene Cernan, the last human to walk on the moon, stepped off its dusty surface and onto his spacecraft’s ladder in the early morning of 14 December 1972. Seventeen hours later Cernan and Jack Schmitt, his fellow moon walker on the Apollo 17 mission, blasted off from the Sea of Serenity to be reunited with their crew mate Ron Evans, orbiting high above in the command service module. Cernan had said, as he climbed the ladder, that he believed it would not be too long before people once again walked on the moon.

Well, almost 40 years on and we have yet to return. Why is this? Put crudely it is because, for those people who would have made the decision to return, there has been no need too. Project Apollo happened because President Kennedy and the US Congress wanted it to; a demonstration of American scientific and technological capability to surpass that achieved by the Soviet Union with its Sputnik and cosmonaut programs. Once Neil Armstrong had stepped onto the Moon in 1969 and been ‘returned safely to the Earth’, Kennedy’s objective had been achieved – the space race had been won – and the political will to maintain a multi-billion dollar manned moon program evaporated. Will we return? Possibly, but whoever gives the decision will have to be happy with the huge price tag it brings with it.

Doug Millard

Do you have a question related to Space? Email [email protected] or post it on the forum