The moon as our 51st state

It isn’t just that Newt Gingrich wants us to go back to the moon or that he wants to set up a colony there.  He is thinking that when the population of the lunar colony reaches 13,000 the moon could apply for statehood.  Yes the notion is crazy, absurd, and inappropriate.  But imagine!  The moon as the USA’s 51st state!  Think how indignant the rest of the world would be, looking up in the night sky and seeing America.

First Read – Gingrich promises US moon colony by 2020.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://abitibibob.hubpages.com/ Bob Hunter

    Not a bad idea. The nation’s capitol could be moved there, along with Congress and the Senate!

  • http://abitibibob.hubpages.com/ Bob Hunter

    Not a bad idea. The nation’s capitol could be moved there, along with Congress and the Senate!

  • Tom Hering

    What will the inhabitants of Moon Base Newt call their new state? “Gingrich”? We already have the state of Washington, and we once had the state of Franklin.

    “Think how indignant the rest of the world would be, looking up in the night sky and seeing America.”

    So what will the official state bird be? A middle finger?

  • Tom Hering

    What will the inhabitants of Moon Base Newt call their new state? “Gingrich”? We already have the state of Washington, and we once had the state of Franklin.

    “Think how indignant the rest of the world would be, looking up in the night sky and seeing America.”

    So what will the official state bird be? A middle finger?

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    An interesting, and obliquely related story, is the fact that the European Space agency, being slightly cash strapped, and seeing its options dwindle this side of the Atlantic (what with the dwindling capabilities of Nasa), and the misfortunes plaguing the Russian program, have started thinking about China. This is sure to irritate the America autorities.

    The Chinese program, however, is showing great promise, apparently, but the US authorities would like to keep them away from the ISS (why – I thought I stands for International – after all, the Russians go there all the time?).

    See this link: http://www.spiegel.de/international/0,1518,812273,00.html

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    An interesting, and obliquely related story, is the fact that the European Space agency, being slightly cash strapped, and seeing its options dwindle this side of the Atlantic (what with the dwindling capabilities of Nasa), and the misfortunes plaguing the Russian program, have started thinking about China. This is sure to irritate the America autorities.

    The Chinese program, however, is showing great promise, apparently, but the US authorities would like to keep them away from the ISS (why – I thought I stands for International – after all, the Russians go there all the time?).

    See this link: http://www.spiegel.de/international/0,1518,812273,00.html

  • WebMonk

    My fairly libertarian leanings are demonstrated that I really don’t think the federal government ought to be doing space exploration, at least not with the goals and methods they’ve been using. However, compared to a lot of the spending the government does, I think the spending on space development is downright wonderful with awesome sauce on top!

    So, you won’t hear me get very strident about federal spending on space development, pro or con.

    That said, I really don’t think this is the time for the government to be undertaking such an effort, even if I were to consider the government spending on space development a purely good thing.

    NASA is rife with waste and inefficiency, and building them back up to the sort of level necessary for _them_ to build a moon colony would require spending on a level that would make Obama’s worst spending bills look like child’s play.

    I would guesstimate at least a trillion dollars per year for the next 8 years would be necessary, and then probably another several hundred billion per year in support costs for decades afterward.

    And that money comes from … where?

  • WebMonk

    My fairly libertarian leanings are demonstrated that I really don’t think the federal government ought to be doing space exploration, at least not with the goals and methods they’ve been using. However, compared to a lot of the spending the government does, I think the spending on space development is downright wonderful with awesome sauce on top!

    So, you won’t hear me get very strident about federal spending on space development, pro or con.

    That said, I really don’t think this is the time for the government to be undertaking such an effort, even if I were to consider the government spending on space development a purely good thing.

    NASA is rife with waste and inefficiency, and building them back up to the sort of level necessary for _them_ to build a moon colony would require spending on a level that would make Obama’s worst spending bills look like child’s play.

    I would guesstimate at least a trillion dollars per year for the next 8 years would be necessary, and then probably another several hundred billion per year in support costs for decades afterward.

    And that money comes from … where?

  • Tom Hering

    From green (unaged) cheese exports to Earth.

  • Tom Hering

    From green (unaged) cheese exports to Earth.

  • Tom Hering

    A return to the moon would be expensive, but less expensive than you fear, WebMonk, if we use existing technology. For example, we don’t really need to fund a new heavy-lift rocket. We could send sections of our moon ships up to Earth orbit on current rockets, and ISS crewmembers could assemble them in space. The only reason we built the Saturn V in the ’60s was the end-of-the-decade deadline for a moon landing. We had to send the lunar lander, command capsule, and service module up as a single package. We didn’t have enough time to build a station and develop the techniques needed for assembly-in-orbit. But we have both now.

  • Tom Hering

    A return to the moon would be expensive, but less expensive than you fear, WebMonk, if we use existing technology. For example, we don’t really need to fund a new heavy-lift rocket. We could send sections of our moon ships up to Earth orbit on current rockets, and ISS crewmembers could assemble them in space. The only reason we built the Saturn V in the ’60s was the end-of-the-decade deadline for a moon landing. We had to send the lunar lander, command capsule, and service module up as a single package. We didn’t have enough time to build a station and develop the techniques needed for assembly-in-orbit. But we have both now.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @#4 I propose making the moon colony a joint venture between Disney and the Monsanto Corporation. They could create the happiest place orbiting earth and the colony would soon be self supporting.

    More seriously, the NASA budget is pitiful. And as Tom pointed out, a lot of the technology needed has already been developed. Much of the current heavy lifter work is refining plans from the 60′s with improved electronics and manufacturing techniques. That kind of work isn’t really that expensive.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @#4 I propose making the moon colony a joint venture between Disney and the Monsanto Corporation. They could create the happiest place orbiting earth and the colony would soon be self supporting.

    More seriously, the NASA budget is pitiful. And as Tom pointed out, a lot of the technology needed has already been developed. Much of the current heavy lifter work is refining plans from the 60′s with improved electronics and manufacturing techniques. That kind of work isn’t really that expensive.

  • Tom Hering

    “… the happiest place orbiting earth …”

    Hmm. I can’t really picture Newt Vader stepping out of an airlock, accompanied by the seven dwarves dressed as little Imperial Stormtroopers. But I can almost hear Snow White saying, “Help me Obama-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope and change.”

  • Tom Hering

    “… the happiest place orbiting earth …”

    Hmm. I can’t really picture Newt Vader stepping out of an airlock, accompanied by the seven dwarves dressed as little Imperial Stormtroopers. But I can almost hear Snow White saying, “Help me Obama-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope and change.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Sure, let’s colonize the moon. Then after awhile, they’ll be wanting independence, and their HOLMES IV (“High-Optional, Logical, Multi-Evaluating Supervisor, Mark IV”) computer nicknamed Mike will strat catapulting large rocks at the Earth to make a point…

    TANSTAAFL, y’all…

  • http://www.facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Sure, let’s colonize the moon. Then after awhile, they’ll be wanting independence, and their HOLMES IV (“High-Optional, Logical, Multi-Evaluating Supervisor, Mark IV”) computer nicknamed Mike will strat catapulting large rocks at the Earth to make a point…

    TANSTAAFL, y’all…

  • D’Arcy

    It’s more a Catholic question, but the canonical question arises as to which diocese a Moon colony would belong. One candidate would be the Diocese of Orlando (Cape Canaveral) or Diocese of Houston (Mission Control). Issues like these provide a bit a levity for canon lawyers.

  • D’Arcy

    It’s more a Catholic question, but the canonical question arises as to which diocese a Moon colony would belong. One candidate would be the Diocese of Orlando (Cape Canaveral) or Diocese of Houston (Mission Control). Issues like these provide a bit a levity for canon lawyers.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Of course, then India or China will set up a colony on the other side:

    Cue: Dark side of the moon….

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Of course, then India or China will set up a colony on the other side:

    Cue: Dark side of the moon….

  • deh

    D’Arcy, it would most likely be under the Diocese of Houston because Cape Canaveral has control of the flight only until it leaves the tower, once it has left the tower it is under the control of mission control.

  • deh

    D’Arcy, it would most likely be under the Diocese of Houston because Cape Canaveral has control of the flight only until it leaves the tower, once it has left the tower it is under the control of mission control.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    I think I’m with DL21. Why not? We go back and forth to the space station all the time, of course we have stopped going ourselves and now use Russian rockets rather than the space shuttle that used to be our pride and joy.
    Yes the media has run on this and has tried to make Newt the laughingstock with it. For the most part the fact that that tact has worked has made me depressed. In times past the people of the United States would have rallied behind such a plan, just as they did when Kennedy announced plans to go to the moon the first time.
    It seems to me this is evidence of a far greater problem in America. The people have so lost confidence in America that they can’t but laugh at a presidential candidate that does have confidence in America. Growing up, I believed America could do what ever it wanted. I was a bit closer to events of the world I suppose. I saw America doing what other countries only dreamed of.
    Space travel wasn’t something that ever captivated me as much as some of my friends. I didn’t sit around making models. I never thought Star Wars was really feasible, that is the movie. The defense system is another story, still hasn’t worked, but I could see it working. But that America was a leader in space, that was something to be proud of, and our efforts there have paid off immensely, especially in the area of communications, and then there are those tinfoil blanket thingies I keep in the back of my jeep in case I get stuck for a couple days in the desert. (I really don’t know how to walk the line between serious and not serious.)
    But I don’t know why we shouldn’t have a space station on the moon. If a space station is a good idea, and if there are things we can learn there that are beneficial for us, why not have one on the moon, where presumably different experiments, and explorations could take place.
    As for the cost, I’m always curious about these things. Sure there is cost up front, but sometimes I wonder if there aren’t ways of tackling programs like this that don’t actually help the economy, and pay off in the end rather than just contributing to it. I think it’s possible. Of course here in Mormon land, they will shut down a liquor store because it costs the state a hundred thousand to run the store, even though the store makes 500,000 for the state. Sometimes I think government is just like that when it comes to cutting things. They cut the wrong things, and it ends up costing us more.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    I think I’m with DL21. Why not? We go back and forth to the space station all the time, of course we have stopped going ourselves and now use Russian rockets rather than the space shuttle that used to be our pride and joy.
    Yes the media has run on this and has tried to make Newt the laughingstock with it. For the most part the fact that that tact has worked has made me depressed. In times past the people of the United States would have rallied behind such a plan, just as they did when Kennedy announced plans to go to the moon the first time.
    It seems to me this is evidence of a far greater problem in America. The people have so lost confidence in America that they can’t but laugh at a presidential candidate that does have confidence in America. Growing up, I believed America could do what ever it wanted. I was a bit closer to events of the world I suppose. I saw America doing what other countries only dreamed of.
    Space travel wasn’t something that ever captivated me as much as some of my friends. I didn’t sit around making models. I never thought Star Wars was really feasible, that is the movie. The defense system is another story, still hasn’t worked, but I could see it working. But that America was a leader in space, that was something to be proud of, and our efforts there have paid off immensely, especially in the area of communications, and then there are those tinfoil blanket thingies I keep in the back of my jeep in case I get stuck for a couple days in the desert. (I really don’t know how to walk the line between serious and not serious.)
    But I don’t know why we shouldn’t have a space station on the moon. If a space station is a good idea, and if there are things we can learn there that are beneficial for us, why not have one on the moon, where presumably different experiments, and explorations could take place.
    As for the cost, I’m always curious about these things. Sure there is cost up front, but sometimes I wonder if there aren’t ways of tackling programs like this that don’t actually help the economy, and pay off in the end rather than just contributing to it. I think it’s possible. Of course here in Mormon land, they will shut down a liquor store because it costs the state a hundred thousand to run the store, even though the store makes 500,000 for the state. Sometimes I think government is just like that when it comes to cutting things. They cut the wrong things, and it ends up costing us more.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    I also want to add, if we go to the moon for an extended mission, I am so signing up for a chaplain position.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    I also want to add, if we go to the moon for an extended mission, I am so signing up for a chaplain position.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Look Bror – Newt was being ridiculous, for no 1. – it is not possible in the 8 year term for the US to do it all by itself, given the state of the US finances. No 2 – the 51st state thing is so absurd, it sounds like a third grader joke.

    But at the same time, I think the Libertarian idea that Governments should not spend money to go into space is also wrong. Therefore I think that the best solution is greater international co-operation, such as what has been happening with respect to the ISS. But we have to bring China and India in on the deal. See my article linked earlier. The intellectual spin-off of putting men back on the moon, even some sort of moon base (not a an American colony, humph), and yes, a Mars mission, and unmanned probes etc etc is immense.

    The drive of humanity to advance, to explore, “to boldly go….” to steal the phrase is a very powerful one, and has immense positive spin-offs. But the time has come to recognise that the costs of this effort ought to be shared – and who knows? Maybe – just maybe – when we all stared at our screens, seeing men and women of different nationalities walking on the surface of the red planet, we would be less likely to want to beat the living daylights out of each other. This might sound idealisitc, and maybe it is so, but I’d rather try it than another round of stupid peace talks that go nowhere, or another round of military hardware that will sit somewhere as a threat till it rusts away, to be replaced by the next generation of hardware.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Look Bror – Newt was being ridiculous, for no 1. – it is not possible in the 8 year term for the US to do it all by itself, given the state of the US finances. No 2 – the 51st state thing is so absurd, it sounds like a third grader joke.

    But at the same time, I think the Libertarian idea that Governments should not spend money to go into space is also wrong. Therefore I think that the best solution is greater international co-operation, such as what has been happening with respect to the ISS. But we have to bring China and India in on the deal. See my article linked earlier. The intellectual spin-off of putting men back on the moon, even some sort of moon base (not a an American colony, humph), and yes, a Mars mission, and unmanned probes etc etc is immense.

    The drive of humanity to advance, to explore, “to boldly go….” to steal the phrase is a very powerful one, and has immense positive spin-offs. But the time has come to recognise that the costs of this effort ought to be shared – and who knows? Maybe – just maybe – when we all stared at our screens, seeing men and women of different nationalities walking on the surface of the red planet, we would be less likely to want to beat the living daylights out of each other. This might sound idealisitc, and maybe it is so, but I’d rather try it than another round of stupid peace talks that go nowhere, or another round of military hardware that will sit somewhere as a threat till it rusts away, to be replaced by the next generation of hardware.

  • http://chaz-lehmann.livejournal.com Rev. Charles Lehmann

    Strangely enough, Mars is much more cost effective than the moon, and in addition to that, there is actual potential there for the colony to become self-sufficient.

    The trajectory to launch to Mars requires far less fuel than the moon, and Mars has water and other chemicals necessary for a sustainable colony. It also has a greater potential for useful exports.

    A good book on this is “Entering Space” by Zubrin.

  • http://chaz-lehmann.livejournal.com Rev. Charles Lehmann

    Strangely enough, Mars is much more cost effective than the moon, and in addition to that, there is actual potential there for the colony to become self-sufficient.

    The trajectory to launch to Mars requires far less fuel than the moon, and Mars has water and other chemicals necessary for a sustainable colony. It also has a greater potential for useful exports.

    A good book on this is “Entering Space” by Zubrin.

  • Cincinnatus

    A moon base–heck, just going back to the moon at all–sounds like a perfectly useless waste of non-existent money.

  • Cincinnatus

    A moon base–heck, just going back to the moon at all–sounds like a perfectly useless waste of non-existent money.

  • SKPeterson

    Eight years is completely unrealistic. The Moon could serve as a nice manufacturing, resupply and launch pad for Mars colonies. We also need to put a host of small resupply platforms in orbit between the Earth and Mars that can be used by colonizing missions so they don’t have to wait for Earth to get into a convenient orbit with Mars in order to get the occasional store of goods. But, the necessary ingredient is robots. Lots and lots of robots. Scads of robots. And then robot manufacturing facilities on the Moon to make more robots to send to Mars. All of which could be financed by private companies if they could obtain property rights for mines on both the Moon and Mars, then the asteroids, the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, gas mining of the outer planets, more robotic mining of Pluto and then on to Mysterious Planet X. But I’d want Robby the Robot to be along for the ride.

  • SKPeterson

    Eight years is completely unrealistic. The Moon could serve as a nice manufacturing, resupply and launch pad for Mars colonies. We also need to put a host of small resupply platforms in orbit between the Earth and Mars that can be used by colonizing missions so they don’t have to wait for Earth to get into a convenient orbit with Mars in order to get the occasional store of goods. But, the necessary ingredient is robots. Lots and lots of robots. Scads of robots. And then robot manufacturing facilities on the Moon to make more robots to send to Mars. All of which could be financed by private companies if they could obtain property rights for mines on both the Moon and Mars, then the asteroids, the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, gas mining of the outer planets, more robotic mining of Pluto and then on to Mysterious Planet X. But I’d want Robby the Robot to be along for the ride.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Cincinnatus – you’re such a spoil sport :)

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Cincinnatus – you’re such a spoil sport :)

  • WebMonk

    I’m less hopeful for the ability for NASA to do it cheaply. They’re still running well north of $10,000 per pound to lift something to GTO, and that’s only to GTO. Crank the cost up by roughly a factor of 5 to take it on to the moon and then set it down where needed. (setting it down safely is the tricky part that makes the cost soar) That’s $50,000 per pound.

    Let’s give it 25,000 tons of materials for the base infrastructure (50,000,000 lbs) – that’s a super, super, super tiny base, barely anything more than a habitat. Multiply that by at least three or four for a mostly self-supporting base complete with some sort of manufacturing capability. Then there’s the people: 10,000 people times 180 lbs each is 1,800,000 lbs. Food stuffs and water for one year (hopefully they could grow their own food and get water from ice after that) is about 11,500,000 pounds (2 lbs of food per person per day and 50 gallons of water per person).

    Just in pure lift costs, NASA is looking at 63,300,000 lbs times $50,000 per pound, coming out to $3.165 TRILLION.

    Pure lift cost, ONLY. For a tiny base that does little more than subsist. Forget manufacturing or significant mining. Forget a transportation system. Forget the systems necessary for getting stuff back off the moon.

    Toss in all the extra stuff that my bare-bones check doesn’t take into account – extra satellites, extra studies of the moon, the development and testing of the systems, the costs of the materials themselves, blah, blah, blah.

    No, I would be hugely shocked if NASA was able to do it for only a trillion dollars per year for the next eight years. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to find out if it were double or triple that price.

    Tom @ 6: That’s entirely using our existing rockets. Besides, it’s not like they could design a new rocket system in the next year or two anyway, even if they did have funding – rocket design doesn’t work that quickly.

  • WebMonk

    I’m less hopeful for the ability for NASA to do it cheaply. They’re still running well north of $10,000 per pound to lift something to GTO, and that’s only to GTO. Crank the cost up by roughly a factor of 5 to take it on to the moon and then set it down where needed. (setting it down safely is the tricky part that makes the cost soar) That’s $50,000 per pound.

    Let’s give it 25,000 tons of materials for the base infrastructure (50,000,000 lbs) – that’s a super, super, super tiny base, barely anything more than a habitat. Multiply that by at least three or four for a mostly self-supporting base complete with some sort of manufacturing capability. Then there’s the people: 10,000 people times 180 lbs each is 1,800,000 lbs. Food stuffs and water for one year (hopefully they could grow their own food and get water from ice after that) is about 11,500,000 pounds (2 lbs of food per person per day and 50 gallons of water per person).

    Just in pure lift costs, NASA is looking at 63,300,000 lbs times $50,000 per pound, coming out to $3.165 TRILLION.

    Pure lift cost, ONLY. For a tiny base that does little more than subsist. Forget manufacturing or significant mining. Forget a transportation system. Forget the systems necessary for getting stuff back off the moon.

    Toss in all the extra stuff that my bare-bones check doesn’t take into account – extra satellites, extra studies of the moon, the development and testing of the systems, the costs of the materials themselves, blah, blah, blah.

    No, I would be hugely shocked if NASA was able to do it for only a trillion dollars per year for the next eight years. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to find out if it were double or triple that price.

    Tom @ 6: That’s entirely using our existing rockets. Besides, it’s not like they could design a new rocket system in the next year or two anyway, even if they did have funding – rocket design doesn’t work that quickly.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Klasie,
    That aspects of Newts speech might be over ambitious is not something I want to debate. What I am saying is that it wasn’t too long ago that we as Americans would not have laughed at the entire idea as silly. It wasn’t too long ago the nay sayers would have been ridiculed.
    I think it is symptomatic of a larger problem in America today. I blame public schools and the communist party, I mean the teacher’s union. Why is it that it has become in vogue to criticize America, and belittle ourselves? We used to say we can, now we just tell ourselves we can’t until we believe it and then guess what? we can’t.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Klasie,
    That aspects of Newts speech might be over ambitious is not something I want to debate. What I am saying is that it wasn’t too long ago that we as Americans would not have laughed at the entire idea as silly. It wasn’t too long ago the nay sayers would have been ridiculed.
    I think it is symptomatic of a larger problem in America today. I blame public schools and the communist party, I mean the teacher’s union. Why is it that it has become in vogue to criticize America, and belittle ourselves? We used to say we can, now we just tell ourselves we can’t until we believe it and then guess what? we can’t.

  • WebMonk

    This is also something of a condemnation of NASA. They’re notorious for cost overruns on a massive scale.

    For a private company that is aiming at setting up a profitable system … well, they aren’t going to shoot straight for the moon, and they wouldn’t be making a “habitat”. They’re going to be building up multi-purpose infrastructure along the way until it gets to the point where it’s closer to being cost effective to do a moon base. And they would be aiming at building something which will make money – not a really expensive living space in which it’s also possible to do some work.

    I imagine them setting up a mining base that is mostly automated at first, only needing periodic maintenance that can be accomplished by temporary people. As the mining base grows, permanent quarters would be added, and capabilities would be added.

  • WebMonk

    This is also something of a condemnation of NASA. They’re notorious for cost overruns on a massive scale.

    For a private company that is aiming at setting up a profitable system … well, they aren’t going to shoot straight for the moon, and they wouldn’t be making a “habitat”. They’re going to be building up multi-purpose infrastructure along the way until it gets to the point where it’s closer to being cost effective to do a moon base. And they would be aiming at building something which will make money – not a really expensive living space in which it’s also possible to do some work.

    I imagine them setting up a mining base that is mostly automated at first, only needing periodic maintenance that can be accomplished by temporary people. As the mining base grows, permanent quarters would be added, and capabilities would be added.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    I imagine them setting up a mining base that is mostly automated at first,

    Even here on earth it takes enourmous investment to find, delineate, and to a feasability study on a potential mineral deposit. The amount of surveys, drilling, core logging, geochemical assays and other analyses, geotechnical analyses etc, followed by financial models, mine plans etc etc is phenomenal. It takes years, often more than a decade from discovery to production, and longer to profit. To imagine that a private company will raise the capital to do something like that on the moon is simple a pipe dream. The investors won’t touch it.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    I imagine them setting up a mining base that is mostly automated at first,

    Even here on earth it takes enourmous investment to find, delineate, and to a feasability study on a potential mineral deposit. The amount of surveys, drilling, core logging, geochemical assays and other analyses, geotechnical analyses etc, followed by financial models, mine plans etc etc is phenomenal. It takes years, often more than a decade from discovery to production, and longer to profit. To imagine that a private company will raise the capital to do something like that on the moon is simple a pipe dream. The investors won’t touch it.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    That should be “and to complete a feasability study..”

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    That should be “and to complete a feasability study..”

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Klasie is right on the mining bit. It’s possible we find something on the moon worth mining. But even a simple mining process is a complicated thing that is normally not open to automation. Not saying it is impossible, but I do very much wonder what the moon could possibly have that would be worth mining. Suppose we could come across something by sheer luck with one of those rover thingies, A rich deposit sitting on the surface, not requiring much process at all…. But I’m skeptical of all that.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Klasie is right on the mining bit. It’s possible we find something on the moon worth mining. But even a simple mining process is a complicated thing that is normally not open to automation. Not saying it is impossible, but I do very much wonder what the moon could possibly have that would be worth mining. Suppose we could come across something by sheer luck with one of those rover thingies, A rich deposit sitting on the surface, not requiring much process at all…. But I’m skeptical of all that.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    “To the moon, Alice!” :D

    Seriously, Heinlein’s book The Moon is a Harsh Mistress would take on a whole new meaning if something like that were to happen.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    “To the moon, Alice!” :D

    Seriously, Heinlein’s book The Moon is a Harsh Mistress would take on a whole new meaning if something like that were to happen.

  • trotk

    Can you imagine Al Gore’s heart attack over the idea of us strip-mining the moon? We could change the tides forever, destroying thousands of coastal communities as the fish populations moved because of the lack of food!

  • trotk

    Can you imagine Al Gore’s heart attack over the idea of us strip-mining the moon? We could change the tides forever, destroying thousands of coastal communities as the fish populations moved because of the lack of food!

  • kenneth

    Hey——- doctor Vieth what happened to my slam on Obama and his “administration”. Hey ain’t it the truth——-Uh, just sayin as one our good bloggers put?

  • kenneth

    Hey——- doctor Vieth what happened to my slam on Obama and his “administration”. Hey ain’t it the truth——-Uh, just sayin as one our good bloggers put?

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Kenneth – don’t be an ass. Not even Al Gore is that stupid.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Kenneth – don’t be an ass. Not even Al Gore is that stupid.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @20 Actually, NASA has been working on the heavy lift rocket for sometime. My father-in-law is working on that project.
    Also you are assuming straight linear cost. The initial boost phase will be more expensive than the journey to the moon. Less energy is needed once they are out of the earth’s gravity well. In addition, your supplies estimates are off. Recycling waste will lower the amount needed. A moon-base would have better ability to support the machinery to process the waste products than an orbital station.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @20 Actually, NASA has been working on the heavy lift rocket for sometime. My father-in-law is working on that project.
    Also you are assuming straight linear cost. The initial boost phase will be more expensive than the journey to the moon. Less energy is needed once they are out of the earth’s gravity well. In addition, your supplies estimates are off. Recycling waste will lower the amount needed. A moon-base would have better ability to support the machinery to process the waste products than an orbital station.

  • http://steadfastlutherans.org/ SAL

    I work near the International Space Station: Payload Operations Center. When I speak with folks at NASA they tend to have a very pessimistic view about the potential for space beyond its current uses.

    I work on the military side of the space arena but I share their view that space is ironically both economically/militarily/scientifically vital but extremely limited in its potential for habitation and natural resources.

  • http://steadfastlutherans.org/ SAL

    I work near the International Space Station: Payload Operations Center. When I speak with folks at NASA they tend to have a very pessimistic view about the potential for space beyond its current uses.

    I work on the military side of the space arena but I share their view that space is ironically both economically/militarily/scientifically vital but extremely limited in its potential for habitation and natural resources.

  • WebMonk

    @30 – yes, I know NASA has been looking into a new heavy lift rocket. They’ve just recently started looking at proposals. From this point to the point of actual deployment is nearly a decade, far too long to have any significant effect on the cost of building a moon base within eight years. The first unmanned test of the system isn’t happening until 2017, assuming no delays. (unlikely)

    I fully appreciate the hope that NASA will be able to do something amazing again, but they’re well past their heyday and are now far too bureaucratic to do anything in even a vaguely efficient manner themselves. (No offense meant to your FiL, the organization is problematic, not the individuals.)

    Also, I’m not sure how familiar you are with the process of moving things into and out of gravity wells. It’s not just the fuel which drives up the costs of moving things from orbit to the moon – it’s the systems and equipment needed. Taking something like Voyager and shooting it from orbit out into the solar system is cheap compared to taking something from orbit and then landing it on the moon safely. You’re right that “less energy” is needed for the jump from orbit to the moon, but you’re completely wrong to think that “less energy” translates to less cost.

    The current cost of moving stuff to the moon is eight to ten times the cost of moving it to GTO. I am hopeful that we would be able to apply some techniques that would cut that down to merely five times the cost of getting it to GTO.

    As far as recycling things like food goes, that is taken into account in what I put in my estimate up above. At the very least, with 100% efficient recycling of food from waste, you would have a 90-day turn-around time at the beginning, and you would still slowly lose mass from what the body uses up from the food. In reality, you have closer to a 60-75% recycling percentage.

    I haven’t even bothered to try to also calculate the water needed to water the plants, the nutrients for them, and everything else involved.

    I’m not sure you guys understand what an insanely bare-bones sort of estimate I offered up above. (and that those figures aren’t just pulled out of my butt) For a full-blown consideration of costs, I would increase my total estimate by 50%.

    If NASA were less wasteful, I would start cutting my estimate some, but still not less than a trillion dollars per year for NASA.

    Private efforts would be very different, and so I’m not sure a direct comparison could be made, at least not cleanly.

    When I mentioned mining, I didn’t quite have in mind traditional mining. He3 is a potential goal for mining which would have much simpler search issues. Titanium is another hopeful avenue.

    However, with all this talk of a moon base, I would personally prefer an L5 base or something in lunar orbit. A possible mining operation (if a profitable one could be found) might work on the moon, but there are some really awesome possibilities that are much easier to accomplish with space stations than with a moon base.

  • WebMonk

    @30 – yes, I know NASA has been looking into a new heavy lift rocket. They’ve just recently started looking at proposals. From this point to the point of actual deployment is nearly a decade, far too long to have any significant effect on the cost of building a moon base within eight years. The first unmanned test of the system isn’t happening until 2017, assuming no delays. (unlikely)

    I fully appreciate the hope that NASA will be able to do something amazing again, but they’re well past their heyday and are now far too bureaucratic to do anything in even a vaguely efficient manner themselves. (No offense meant to your FiL, the organization is problematic, not the individuals.)

    Also, I’m not sure how familiar you are with the process of moving things into and out of gravity wells. It’s not just the fuel which drives up the costs of moving things from orbit to the moon – it’s the systems and equipment needed. Taking something like Voyager and shooting it from orbit out into the solar system is cheap compared to taking something from orbit and then landing it on the moon safely. You’re right that “less energy” is needed for the jump from orbit to the moon, but you’re completely wrong to think that “less energy” translates to less cost.

    The current cost of moving stuff to the moon is eight to ten times the cost of moving it to GTO. I am hopeful that we would be able to apply some techniques that would cut that down to merely five times the cost of getting it to GTO.

    As far as recycling things like food goes, that is taken into account in what I put in my estimate up above. At the very least, with 100% efficient recycling of food from waste, you would have a 90-day turn-around time at the beginning, and you would still slowly lose mass from what the body uses up from the food. In reality, you have closer to a 60-75% recycling percentage.

    I haven’t even bothered to try to also calculate the water needed to water the plants, the nutrients for them, and everything else involved.

    I’m not sure you guys understand what an insanely bare-bones sort of estimate I offered up above. (and that those figures aren’t just pulled out of my butt) For a full-blown consideration of costs, I would increase my total estimate by 50%.

    If NASA were less wasteful, I would start cutting my estimate some, but still not less than a trillion dollars per year for NASA.

    Private efforts would be very different, and so I’m not sure a direct comparison could be made, at least not cleanly.

    When I mentioned mining, I didn’t quite have in mind traditional mining. He3 is a potential goal for mining which would have much simpler search issues. Titanium is another hopeful avenue.

    However, with all this talk of a moon base, I would personally prefer an L5 base or something in lunar orbit. A possible mining operation (if a profitable one could be found) might work on the moon, but there are some really awesome possibilities that are much easier to accomplish with space stations than with a moon base.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Webmonk,

    I can only comment on the mining side of things, so here goes:

    Titanium: Prices range in the $10 – $30 / kg range. Hardly a commodity that would be worthwhile to mine on the moon and then transport back to earth. We have enourmous reserves still here. Currently the world’s biggest mining company, BHP Billiton, is getting out of Titanium. So – not really.

    He3: As far as I could ascertain, the main lunar source of Helium-3 is lunar dust, because Helium-3 is a product of the solar wind. The concentration of lunar He3 in the samples brought back by Apollo-11 is about 13ppb. But also remember this is a “grab sample”. Like an exploration geologist walking up to an outcrop, taking one sample, and then making off with it and claiming he can build a big mine because he found some gold in it. Any mining exec will first have a good laugh, then fire his ass. Also, we have no definitve answer about the depth to which the He-3 is retained/present in the lunar surface, and how consistent or widespread it is. What I’m trying to say is that we have some very nice theories, but what we do not have is enough concrete evidence, the results of a decent, proper exploration program.

    Now exploring for mineral deposits here on earth takes a lot of money, and only a small portion ever pays off. But when it pays off, it does so in a major way. That is why the process is a very long one, and it takes an enourmous amount of money to get any mining project of the ground. You have to do all those things I listed in my earlier posts. But with this He-3 thing, you have to build a refinery on the moon too. But that can only happen once you have proven, long term resource, good enough to warrant the costs of mining, refining, transport, reactor building etc etc.

    The mere thought that this could be accomplished by private capital is ludicrous. Take it from one who understands what it takes to discover and investgate mineral deposists.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Webmonk,

    I can only comment on the mining side of things, so here goes:

    Titanium: Prices range in the $10 – $30 / kg range. Hardly a commodity that would be worthwhile to mine on the moon and then transport back to earth. We have enourmous reserves still here. Currently the world’s biggest mining company, BHP Billiton, is getting out of Titanium. So – not really.

    He3: As far as I could ascertain, the main lunar source of Helium-3 is lunar dust, because Helium-3 is a product of the solar wind. The concentration of lunar He3 in the samples brought back by Apollo-11 is about 13ppb. But also remember this is a “grab sample”. Like an exploration geologist walking up to an outcrop, taking one sample, and then making off with it and claiming he can build a big mine because he found some gold in it. Any mining exec will first have a good laugh, then fire his ass. Also, we have no definitve answer about the depth to which the He-3 is retained/present in the lunar surface, and how consistent or widespread it is. What I’m trying to say is that we have some very nice theories, but what we do not have is enough concrete evidence, the results of a decent, proper exploration program.

    Now exploring for mineral deposits here on earth takes a lot of money, and only a small portion ever pays off. But when it pays off, it does so in a major way. That is why the process is a very long one, and it takes an enourmous amount of money to get any mining project of the ground. You have to do all those things I listed in my earlier posts. But with this He-3 thing, you have to build a refinery on the moon too. But that can only happen once you have proven, long term resource, good enough to warrant the costs of mining, refining, transport, reactor building etc etc.

    The mere thought that this could be accomplished by private capital is ludicrous. Take it from one who understands what it takes to discover and investgate mineral deposists.

  • Tom Hering

    Make Moon Base Newt the ultimate sex tourist destination. Where absolutely everything is legal and available. The place will pay for itself, and turn a profit, in no time flat. And honor its namesake. :-D

  • Tom Hering

    Make Moon Base Newt the ultimate sex tourist destination. Where absolutely everything is legal and available. The place will pay for itself, and turn a profit, in no time flat. And honor its namesake. :-D


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