Maybe I'm just easily excitable but this latest step by the Russians to mine deterium on the moon by 2020 scares THE PANTS off of me becuase China's already promised the Moon by 2017. HOLY COMIC STRIP PROFANITY
What truly worries me is the prospect of a war (over resources) on the moon between China and Russia (and possibly the United States, since we fielded the original 'explorers,' and would most likely have vested interest in the outcome). This could take warfare to a whole new level, and escalate into a terrible conflict on Earth as well. Has anyone ever read Stark's War by John G. Hemry? It postulates a similar situation.
Inkwell ------------------ "The difference between a writer and someone who says they want to write is merely the width of a postage stamp." -Anonymous
its going to be an awfully long time before anyone can project enough of a presence on the moon to claim any significant chunks of land and there is more than enough land up there to go around for a while.
Unlike the geologically active earth, the moon does not have as much geological variation from place to place. If a compound is present in one area, its present in most areas. I doubt we will see a war over lunar territory this century or next.
I'm more concerned over 'land-grabbing' tactics, for lack of a better term. And over what body will decide whose 'claims' are legitimate and/or take precedence (surely not the U.N.).
Regardless of whether there's plenty of room for everyone, governments can get greedy...and look unkindly on what they consider potential future threats. Look at the animosity between France and England in the New World. Plenty of space, little consideration of the fact.
Inkwell ------------------ "The only difference between a writer and someone who says they want to write is merely the width of a postage stamp." -Anonymous
First to the Land Grab: I agree. Seriously this is like the the Beginning of European colonization of the New World. Sure it looks begnin enough now but we all know how bloody that got (not including conquest of native cultures) between rival powers. Heck Napolean (sp?) never would have had the money to wage his war if he hadn't sold the french's claim to argueably the most fertile and profitable land in the world the American Great Plains.
To the second, What happens when our moon settlers what some independence? Will it be as peaceful as the larkin decision or as violent has say Moon is a Hash Mistress/Moonrise/Moonwar etc?
This the real question for me. What happens when once our space settlements become more or less self sufficient? I mean Japan imports alot of foodstuffs and no considers them less than sovergien.
Sounds like classic science fiction to me, and as is always possible, maybe future fact. Maybe you're dead on Matt. 'The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress', or something similar is possible, but I agree that it's likely to be a long way off, no matter what happens.
My most optomistic guess would be at least 50 years from now due to the feasability in technology and how long it takes things to happen. We've been promised a real space station for over twenty years, and only now do we even have the start of something viable. I can't picture the kind of commitment to resources and technology required to pull off colonizing the moon, much less mining on it, and then making it work right or be very efficient for a long time. Eventually, it's bound to happen, but by 2020? I doubt it. Things always happen slower than promised.
Politicians like to make far off promises because they're easy. These politicians are usually long out of power and the promise out of thought by time the deadlines come about. They make headlines and people feel patriotic and good about their country. JFK was one of the few politicians in this world that has actually promised something (man on the moon before 1970), and pulled it off, even after he was long dead. Heck, maybe even because he was long dead.
A "war" over the moon's resources would probably be carried out entirely covertly by spies and sabotuers working on the ground. Of course, we're at a huge disadvantage in that kind of war, but we also have formidible strengths. Overall, we still suck at that stuff, though.
"Land Grab" type races won't make any sense until the lunar bases are completely self sufficient, and that's not going to happen any time soon. Impairing the effectiveness of a competitor's launch platforms will be far more efficient than boosting weapons into space to destroy what they've already launched, and it's a lot less likely to raise a hue and cry amongst all the little guy nations or provoke an all out war with a nuclear armed opponent.
Just think about this, nobody really knows how much of the horrible bad luck everyone's had in exploring Mars was actually "luck"
Ooh, that first picture - the view of Mars from space - is glorious!
*sigh* It kind of seems like the world gave up on any serious designs for the rest of the universe after we'd explored the moon. Once NASA got people onto the moon, their goal was accomplished and they didn't have anything else to work towards with that single-minded determination. And now... well, in the sixties people thought we'd have a colony on Mars by now, or at least be a lot closer to it than we are. I hope that this revitalizes some of the interest in exploring our universe.
Getting slightly back on track, I don't think you need to be totally self sufficient(ala bio dome) but you simply need to have the ability to trade for what you need.
As far as being technologically advanced enough i personally believe we are.
the question in my mind is not a technological one but more of a motivational one.
Do we care enough to do it? This is why i mentioned what i did in regards to Russia and China. Sure it seems like blow hard right now but I firmly believe that both of these countries have the drive and determination to make this a possiblity. Now the question remains will the US wake up in time? because this time I garuntee there will not be a Sputnik to send us into a frenzy.
I don't think they'll be efficiently harvesting resources from the Moon and/or transporting them back to Earth any time soon. Certainly not by 2020. And, as Survivor pointed out, on-site resource processing would take considerable time to set up.
Automation systems will help, since they do not require oxygen, food, or water (hey, they've already got a robotic astronaut in the advanced protoype stage). I'm wondering how everyone will handle the issue of nuclear reactors going up into space...much less all the way to the lunar surface for static power sources. Realistically, that's the most longevous power source currently available, though the idea of sending nuclear material (especially the type of reactors the Chinese are likely to launch, with or without our knowledge) is disturbing to some.
Personally, I think huge solar collectors on the Moon's 'light side' would be a fantastic energy source (Luna rotates synchronously...locked in phase with its orbit so that the same side is always facing toward Earth, and therefore the Sun. However, there is no true 'dark side' of the Moon, since its slight orbital wobble allows a few degrees of the far side to be seen from time to time).
You also wouldn't have to worry about incredibly long power cables being damaged by natural forces (at least, not in their operational lifetimes), with the exception of solar winds. They, and all the other installations/external equipment on the Moon would have to be protected from the Sun's ionic discharges (since the Moon does not have a magnetic field or atmosphere).
Inkwell ----------------- "The difference between a writer and someone who says they want to write is merely the width of a postage stamp." -Anonymous
[This message has been edited by Inkwell (edited January 26, 2006).]
I honestly think most of us are placing too much emphasis on the tech advances that haven't happened yet.
Its not that hard to get to the Moon. Apollo level technology is worse than ti-89 in terms of computing power. In dealing with launch payload capabilities we (US, Russia, China etc) know what we need its just a matter of doing it.
Further I think we underestimate the number of analogues on earth in places like Siberia especially where the Russians in particular have emerged as the world's experts in extreme conditions habitation.
Moon Colonization could happen in 2010 if we wanted it too. Its just a matter of doing it.
Well, the supply line is a formidible obstacle, even if you don't have to worry about the problem of intentional sabotage.
I would rank building an orbital elevator (or inventing an efficient means of gravity nullification) as a prerequisite for bringing launch costs down enough to make it feasible (as opposed to possible). It's probable that we could have something like that by 2010, and we have better access to the equator than either China or Russia. A sea platform in the Pacific would probably be ideal, and not just because we happen to control most of it
With several elevators running commercial payloads and a few dedicated national resource platforms, we'd have a secure gravy train and enough throughput to think seriously about putting people on the moon for extended tours.
quote:same side is always facing toward Earth, and therefore the Sun
How is this possible?
By my calculation, if the same side of the moon is always facing the earth, then, in the above diagrams, the moon has opposite sides facing the sun.
Since we know the moon is tidally locked with the earth, then the moon can only have any given point in sunlight about half the time and the lunar day lasts about 14 earth days followed by a 14 earth day night.
During the lunar day, the surface is 200+ degrees farenheight, during the night it approaches absolute Zero.
I think there is a major difference between 'possible' and 'practical'. For example, flying with airplanes was 'possible' as soon as Wilbur and Orvil proved it could be done, but that still was a long way from making it 'practical' to ferry people around in them as a common form of transportation. The technology made it 'possible' but far from 'practical'. For me, this is the biggest obstacle, and why I still think it'll take at least 50 years to develop 'practical' technology to make moon bases and mining on them work the way they're being envisioned.
Sure, we could easily send up a dozen guys to live in some kind of station up there and spend billions to send supplies to them with current technology, but I wouldn't call that anything more than an experiment. It's great to dream, but it takes time for those things to come true and work in an every-day kind of operation and be cost effective and 'practical'.
lupac's got a great point but i think the practicality is more than solved.
In my opinon 1969=1903 and 2006=1919 or so.
I use those dates because the current capacity in space travel is more or less equal to the capacity we had following WWI
I think though we are at the brink of a boom. Virgin Galactic among others is beginning the space tourism busines just like people slowly began the passenger services with the beginning of the DC line in the early 1920's
If we refocus I firmly believe we'll be on a roll.
I would agree with one thing, Matt. If this is going to happen sooner rather than later, it'll probably be the private sector that makes it happen, not any government. All it would likely take would be a large enough profit motive and things would start happening. That is, unless governments get in the way, as they have a tendancy to do.
I could see the private sector moving faster with this than any government, but that is the only way I could see it happening in the time window talked about here, and even then, I have my doubts. The private sector has greater motivation than at any time in the past, but they have to be shown the money, so to speak, to risk investing the undoubtedly huge amounts of money it's going to take for infrastructure alone. Even start-up airlines fail, so it has tremendous risk at this point.
I hate to be a cynic, and I'd really like to see something like space travel for the average citizen in my life time. It sure would result in interesting changes if space travel were as common as airline travel is today, so I hope you're right! Go Virgin Galactic!
Hmm....I see your point but really who wants to fight over the canary islands/azores when you've got the entire NA/SA continents to worry about?
OOps that was to Spaceman's point though far more serious than he perhaps intended.
To lupac...I believe that your cyncism is not all that far off.
I'm just a optimist about technological progress.
But what i figure is within say 1-2 years we'll find out just how freaking serious China and Russia are. As several people have pointed out (ill post their worries on Red China Space Control when i find them) its absolutely impossible to hide a Lunar program .
No matter how hard you try the sheer size of the facilities demanded are impossible to be anything else.
So we'll start seeing a tooling up period by one or both of those within the next few years. By my thoughts, unless they're far more policitally deft than I give them credit for, they'll begin the large scale investing and development right smack dab in the heart of US presidential campagining. Now I'm not saying it'll be a huge issue but National Security WILL be and control of space has always been a nat'l security issue. So if this happens I wouldn't be surprised to see a kennedy-esque pledge to have us at least back to the moon by 2020 if not maybe 2015 (I can dream can't I?).
Then once we get to the moon again then you'll see the flood of private dollars.
In terms of English colonization of the NW returning the Moon first is like roanoke we know it existed but it doesn't anymore and its a mystery. The first permanent colony is like James town and then all bets are off.
Note: I use the english model of colonization because they were the only ones to truly "colonize" by bringing lots and lots of settlers; the french, spanish and portugese just conquered and ruled.
[This message has been edited by Matt Lust (edited January 27, 2006).]
[This message has been edited by Matt Lust (edited January 27, 2006).]
Your last post sounds like a good plot line for a novel. You should write it up. You could become the next Michael Crighton or something. Sounds like one of his books, and they're very popular.
You do make good points, and I guess we'll all see what the future holds. I hope for good things too, but I describe myself as a 'realistic optomist' which friends tell me is a contradiction in terms. Hopefully only good things will occur, but whatever happens, I'm sure the trip will be interesting if nothing else.
My "secret" WIP is a Sci-fi Epic about humanity's progression into the stars but its set pre-mars post lunar.
But yeah my "secret idea" note book has got a story plot line alot like the idea i laid out there. I love Political intrigue and social forces in my reading material (Big Bova Fan of his stuff in the universe he set Mars)
Its just that I talk and think alot better than i write.
From Bush's State of the Union Address two days ago:
And to keep America competitive, one commitment is necessary above all: We must continue to lead the world in human talent and creativity... Tonight I announce an American Competitiveness Initiative, to encourage innovation throughout our economy, and to give our nation's children a firm grounding in math and science... First, I propose to double the federal commitment to the most critical basic research programs in the physical sciences over the next 10 years. This funding will support the [research of] nanotechnology, supercomputing, and alternative energy sources.
My inital reaction to this was "COLD WAR! COLD WAR!"... and it seems my reaction wasn't far from the mark. I think that this is a bad thing... but it will get everyone moving... which may be just what we need to get out of our current predicament. Ah well.
I'd like to see the government find a renewed purpose for NASA and make some awesome advances in space technology, but I agree with what's been said before: if anything is going to get done, it will most likely be done in the private sector. I don't think the government has the organization or the motivation to put together something that extensive.