Thursday, June 14, 2012

Will We Ever Live On The Moon?

 Kallamis writes in a great question of Moon habitability in an article he found on BBC future:

Finally someone that somewhat agrees with me. At least to the point that he is actually thinking about this. The article is actually too long to sum up here, but here is the basics of it. We could live on the moon, and use it for many applications. Mining, research into science, medicine, and even the history of the solar system. We could also have tourism, and mining H3 would provide a strong fuel source. Add in asteroid mining, and the best place to be is a massive space station, or a base on the moon. Landings and takeoffs would be easy from the moon. (Personally I still feel we could launch from the moon by magnetic rail launch.) I can think of nothing better than a large moon base, and work from there for the station. Mine the asteroids, run vacation tourism ships, and you watch how much better the economies or the world would be, (provided they and we can all give up our own ignorance and prejudices, distrusts, etc), not to mention the overall satisfaction of the entire planets peoples. I still feel that space is the answer to world peace and prosperity. 
   Not to mention that in theory, asteroids could be brought to the moon to be mined, or at least into an orbit that could be easily reached, maybe even by building a mining base in orbit connected by a space elevator. 
  Works great in my game, but there I don't have the world hating each other problem. Here's an idea. Everyone just stop. Just for 10 minutes, everyone stop, and do nothing. Amazing what it would be like with 10 minutes of true peace across the earth, everywhere. I'll be covering that concept soon, from Morgan Freeman's through the wormhole on the subject of is the universe alive.


Dave Tackett said...

I completely agree that a lunar colony, and more space exploration overall, would certainly be a benefit to humanity, but I'm afraid it may not happen in our lifetimes, if at all. We have the technology, though I think mining and enriching the Uranium there might be easier than H3.

Unfortunately, it sill seems very cost prohibitive to private enterprise and neither our current president nor his competitor have been especially pro-NASA. The only candidate to seriously suggest a lunar colony was ridiculed mercilessly for it. Still if it did happen, it might well be the catalyst for a much larger, longer lived economic boom than the internet boom.

I think you are being overly optimistic on the peace issue though.

Beam Me Up said...

Dave, I agree with you in part, mainly because most people are not aware of any commercial venture that would be viable on the moon. BTW have you seen the movie "Moon" about a lone person running an extraction facility? Great movie for the pathos but it does have one point right, there is a commercial product to be had that could possible be worth billions....H3 which would make fusion power a very real possibility. Come to find out, the first meter or so of Luna regolith contains a high percentage of H3. So much in fact that it could well be worth a commercial venture, but those are being blocked by a "no one can own the moon" treaty that everyone signed as a lark, because who is Really going to LIVE on the moon?! ha ha funny everyone is getting bit on the ass with that one.

Dave Tackett said...

I'm not denying the potential value of H3, merely that until we have more experience with using it on Earth, more conventional forms of nuclear power might be a safer initial power source for a very vulnerable colony.

I know many opponents of space travel make the claim that the commercial use of the moon is prohibited by international treaty, but they are either misinformed or lying to us [I believed them at one time]. The only treaty that applies is the Outer Space Treaty of 1967. This treaty does state that outer space, specifically including the "Moon and other celestial bodies" is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty. It nowhere prohibits the commercial use of, nor establishment of private property there. Indeed in article VIII it states "Ownership of objects launched into outer space, including objects landed or constructed on a celestial body, and of their component parts, is not affected by their presence in outer space or on a celestial body or by their return to the Earth." In simpler words, if you own an object on Earth and launch it into space or build an object in space - you still own it. This would obviously include colonies.

The draconian treaty that would have prevented commercial use was the Moon Treaty of 1979 has only been ratified by Australia, Austria, Belgium, Chile, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, and Uruguay. The US, UK, Japan, China, and Russia have all wisely rejected it, making it as meaningless as most other UN power grabs. Many opponents of commercial space travel will quote this one as if it were not a "failed treaty."

Even the "the moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation" could be interpreted as meaning that the whole of the moon can't be claimed by one nation, while a part might.

Beam Me Up said...

whoop hold up there boss check it:
The Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies,[1] better known as the Moon Treaty or Moon Agreement, is an international treaty that turns jurisdiction of all celestial bodies (including the orbits around such bodies) over to the international community. Thus, all activities must conform to international law (notably this includes the UN Charter).

From the Wiki itself.

Now it does go on and qualify it by saying:In practice, it is a failed treaty since it has not been ratified by any nation which engages in self-launched manned space exploration...

Which mean that there IS a treat on the moon and any celestial body, but given have a chance it is not worth the paper it is drawn on.

Now as to experimenting more with H3. That's proplematic mainly because there is virtually none available in any real sense. That is why I feel the moon is still a viable option.

Dave Tackett said...

I think we're in complete agreement about H3 - I just wasn't clear in that collecting H3 would be one of the reasons to build a lunar colony, just that colony itself would likely use enriched uranium initially, until H3 experiments had been successful, either on the Moon or Earth.

Right about there being a treaty, and like literally thousands of other non-ratified treaties is a failed idea that was resoundingly rejected by the international community. It has absolutely no legal authority (Unless your business based is one of the tiny number of countries that have ratified it. And I doubt most of them would try to enforce it.)

My complaint is when the anti-space people quote it as if were actual law instead of a failed idea. There have been countless attempts at international law that have failed miserably including feeble attempts to mandate Esperanto as a universal language, sed nur google traduki kaj malbona Shatner filmo vere uzas ĝin.

Beam Me Up said...

Yep ok I see where you are Dave. Yeah the countries that SHOULD have ratified are the very same that will most likely take advantage of the resource. You really think that a luna colony would go nuclear? I know it would be easy to get there, but I would think that a large solar array, possibly in orbit, with an efficient battery supply would be a stronger runner. Battery tech is due to make some great strides in lower weight and power density. These techs would be online by the time we start hearing about a colony. It could happen!

Dave Tackett said...

You're quite likely right about solar. I just didn't want to assume any technological breakthroughs (especially with solar power and better batteries, which have been "right around the corner" since Carter was president.)

Beam Me Up said...

Oh I know, solar power has been a big pipe dream for ages. But as far as batteries are concerned, we ourselves have born witness to huge strides in battery tech. Now with the new power densities in lithium, we are going to see, unheard of capacity and shelf life. This isn't vapor ware here. I am willing to bet less than 5 years batteries will either be the same power at a third the weight or triple the output at the same cross section as today.