Author Topic: 25 Good Reasons To Go To The Moon  (Read 4679 times)

Offline Proponent

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Re: 25 Good Reasons To Go To The Moon
« Reply #20 on: 09/10/2018 06:11 PM »
US federal policy regarding space is reset or rebooted every four to eight years. Courtesy of a new president coming in:

- Kennedy: Moon
- Nixon: Shuttle (LEO)
- Reagan: Space Station (LEO)
- Bush sr.: Mars
- Clinton: Space Station (LEO)
- Bush jr.: Moon, and then Mars
- Obama: Asteroids on the way to Mars
- Trump: Moon

I think that the policy has been more steady than not since Bush Jr.  The consistent policy has been to build a big Shuttle-derived heavy launch vehicle (SDHLV) and the Orion capsule.

It's true that the destinations proposed for the SDHLV and Orion have drifted about (Moon, NEA or rock therefrom in lunar DRO, LOP-G in lunar DRO or other cis-lunar orbit), but that doesn't really matter, because no significant amount of money has ever been committed to destination-specific systems.  For example, the proposed Altair lunar lander was not in development as of the time Constellation was canceled.  NASA was not going to the lunar surface then any more than it is now.

It may be that Congress will soon begin commit funds to LOP-G, which would superficially be an addition to the long-standing SDHLV/Orion policy.  For the majority (I believe) of us who see LOP-G principally as a make-work for Orion/SLS*, however, it's just a red herring to justify the program's continuation.

The policy long has been and remains SDHLV and Orion all by themselves.



* And, once again, if you think LOP-G is a sensible step toward a worthy goal, why has it been absent from the many proposals for human exploration the moon and Mars produced in recent decades?  Can you identify some new finding that has made LOP-G highly desirable for missions deeper into the solar system?
« Last Edit: 09/10/2018 07:13 PM by Proponent »

Online ThereIWas3

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Re: 25 Good Reasons To Go To The Moon
« Reply #21 on: 09/10/2018 09:04 PM »
I had not even noticed that.  EML-2 is the last place I would want to put a space station, as it messes with the one big thing farside has going for it;  the isolation from Earth.   Plus it then itself has to deal with being blocked from Earthcom.

It is so much easier to deploy massive telescope structures (talking multiple km across) on the lunar surface than in zero-G.  Most of the articles I have read on this propose unrolling wide Kapton tape with embedded antenna dipoles across the surface.   You also need some amount of power generation facilities - easier to do in 1/6G and on a stable platform.  Plenty of room to spread out.

But then if you mess up the quietness with some space staion overhead, with vehicles coming and going, you've lost it again.  It does not matter if you could "filter out" specific frequencies - the presense of any RF or even heat energy at all ruins the radio receivers for these things for a period of time.   I remember being told on a tour of the Big Ear telescope that if a Canada Goose would happen to fly though the antenna (it was the size of a football field), just its body heat would decalibrate their liquid-Nitrogen-cooled detector.

Nothing should go at EML-2.  The scientists should be jumping all over this.
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Offline su27k

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Re: 25 Good Reasons To Go To The Moon
« Reply #22 on: 09/11/2018 04:46 AM »
I'm also a bit annoyed with Bob Zubrin's whole "If you're going to the Moon/MARS!, go to the Moon/MARS!. 

Actually what he said is "If you want to go to the Moon, then go to the Moon". The whole point is the USG says they want to go to the Moon, but their action shows they have no intention of doing that, Zubrin was just pointing out this cognitive dissonance.

Quote
It strikes me as focusing on the methodology that worked well for the Cold War approach to Apollo: focus, focus, focus/win, win, win.  If we're just building pyramids then okay, yeah, that's the approach.  But if we're looking to build out the infrastructure to enable a robust movement of people out into the Solar system to tap its energy and resources, then no, we need a different strategy, more complex and multi-layered.  Just like industries in the real world.

You need to focus because the budget is limited and opportunity cost is high, if you chose to do project A then you probably won't be able to do project B. While "build out the infrastructure to enable a robust movement of people out into the Solar system to tap its energy and resources" sounds great, the reality is any infrastructure will have a maintenance cost, and in NASA's case this cost is super high, so you should be careful with what infrastructure to build.

Remember launch systems are infrastructure too, so is a LEO spacestation. In fact a reusable LEO launch system + a LEO space station is part of the Space Transportation System which was supposed to be "the infrastructure to enable a robust movement of people out into the Solar system to tap its energy and resources" back in the 1970s, but it didn't work out too well, did it? NASA said the Space Shuttle limited them to LEO for 30 years, so they need to get rid of that; now they want to get rid of ISS too since it's too expensive; why do you think NASA's next infrastructure project can do any better?

Offline Lunadyne

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Re: 25 Good Reasons To Go To The Moon
« Reply #23 on: 09/11/2018 06:56 AM »
Point of Information: Halo orbits can be varied, and so a facility at EML-2 is not necessarily Earth-blind.  If you make the radius of the halo big enough then the facility would be able to peek around the rim of the Moon.  There are consequences to this, as the orbit period is substantially longer than a halo that's in tight around the Earth-Moon CoM line.  Big halos are absolutely not a problem.

What scientists are going to be jumping up and down about this?  The last scientist I knew who was really big on Lunar radio telescopes was Paul Lowman, whom I met at the NASA Academy at GSFC in 2002.  He made sure I got a reprint of the article he had written for Sky & Telescope (hold on..."Regards from the Moon", Sep. 1992).  Dr. Spudis has just passed away.  It's not like there has been a big and vibrant Lunar community at NASA or, really, anywhere.  It has been shunned and marginalised for decades in pursuit of MARS!.  There are some notables still around like Clive Neal, Carle Pieters, and, uh, yeah...  Oh, Sarah Noble is a young one.  Don't see those very often.  I have one of her Lunar landscape paintings in the Lunar Library.

This lack of depth in the Lunar bench is the reason that NASA has been caught flatfooted on the Lunar pivot this time around.  They have no strategy for the Moon, which is why they're trying to Frankenstein together an architecture that will at least get them to the Lunar surface (which they don't want to do), while still maximizing their MARS! options (which they do want to do).  They're not really sure what they're going to do when they get there, which is why you keep hearing the ISRU buzzword (Because: Water!). 

Me?  I'd have them focus on two things: core samples to study the SWIE record, and crater counting, sizing & dating.  These two things are probably the most Earth-ecosystem-relevant space science in the whole freaking Solar system.

The core samples would be separated by layer, which would each represent an impact event at some point in time laying down a new ejecta blanket.  These would be dated, and the composition of the embedded SWIEs would be analyzed.  Over time, as we collected cores from more locations and learned how to better read them, we would develop a history of the Sun's output over time, and the compositional variations.  Is there anything more important to life on Earth than the Sun?  We think we know what it has been up to, but let's go read its diary to see what has really been going on as it has matured into a middle-aged star.

Crater counting, sizing & dating relates to the fact that the Earth and Moon have been co-orbiting in space for aeons.  Since Mama Gaia has made herself over so much, it's hard to get a good read on her astroblemes (star blemishes, an esoteric word for impact craters), a little over 200 so far.  The best proxy we have for the terrestrial impact record is the lunar impact record.  In space terms they're basically right on top of each other.  Over 500,000 craters have been identified on the Moon's nearside; there are way more on the far side as it doesn't have the mares resurfacing things.

The reason this is relevant is that the dating of the terrestrial impact craters seems to be spacing itself into 30-35 million year buckets.  This would put Chixculub about two cycles ago, and the big die off 250 million years ago at about eight cycles.  I don't put much credence in this, but I do feel that knowing the impact record will better help us in really understanding the impact risk here on Earth, and goshdarnit that is science worth doing.

But I'm not a scientist.  I have the wrong sheepskins.  My aptitudes are engineering-related anyway and I've got way the wrong sheepskins for that.  So, like most folks, I get to watch from the sidelines as events unfold in predictable ways.

Offline woods170

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Re: 25 Good Reasons To Go To The Moon
« Reply #24 on: 09/11/2018 07:00 AM »
US federal policy regarding space is reset or rebooted every four to eight years. Courtesy of a new president coming in:

- Kennedy: Moon
- Nixon: Shuttle (LEO)
- Reagan: Space Station (LEO)
- Bush sr.: Mars
- Clinton: Space Station (LEO)
- Bush jr.: Moon, and then Mars
- Obama: Asteroids on the way to Mars
- Trump: Moon

I think that the policy has been more steady than not since Bush Jr.  The consistent policy has been to build a big Shuttle-derived heavy launch vehicle (SDHLV) and the Orion capsule.

Some "fine" policy that is. Have a big rocket and a spaceship with nowhere to go. In essence you are saying that US Space Policy is to have a "how" but not a "where".


Offline woods170

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Re: 25 Good Reasons To Go To The Moon
« Reply #25 on: 09/11/2018 07:04 AM »
My viewpoint and opinion however is that we are coming to a break point in policy.  At some point the Trump administration will end either really or effectivly...the 2020 election is going to be a referendum on America's future...and I think part of that will include space policy.    in other words I think a political cycle is coming to an end, a space business cycle is starting and some foreign issues are moving...

and in the end that will cause a lunar goal done as never before to come up.  I might not be "that smart" but I am an eternal realist couple with pragmatic optimist.

we will see. 

I admire your optimism and your view of what the future may bring.

However, I must warn you: I've seen the crystal balls of many here fail spectacularly.

Including mine.

Online MATTBLAK

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Re: 25 Good Reasons To Go To The Moon
« Reply #26 on: 09/11/2018 07:20 AM »
Unless the U.S. gets more politicians and billionaires who are true 'Space Geeks', progress is going to be slow.
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Offline Proponent

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Re: 25 Good Reasons To Go To The Moon
« Reply #27 on: 09/11/2018 11:12 AM »
I think that the policy has been more steady than not since Bush Jr.  The consistent policy has been to build a big Shuttle-derived heavy launch vehicle (SDHLV) and the Orion capsule.

Some "fine" policy that is. Have a big rocket and a spaceship with nowhere to go. In essence you are saying that US Space Policy is to have a "how" but not a "where".

Exactly.

Online ThereIWas3

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Re: 25 Good Reasons To Go To The Moon
« Reply #28 on: 09/11/2018 12:50 PM »
Google "lunar farside radio telescope" and you get lots of recent articles.  Here are just a few:

New Scientist, 2012 "Far side of the moon offers quiet place for telescopes"

Forbes, 2017 "Could We Put A Telescope On The Far Side Of The Moon?"

Space.com, 2015 "How Robots Could Build a Radio Telescope on Far Side of the Moon"

People working in this area usually have degrees in Astronomy or Electrical Engineering.
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Offline TripleSeven

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Re: 25 Good Reasons To Go To The Moon
« Reply #29 on: 09/11/2018 01:21 PM »
My viewpoint and opinion however is that we are coming to a break point in policy.  At some point the Trump administration will end either really or effectivly...the 2020 election is going to be a referendum on America's future...and I think part of that will include space policy.    in other words I think a political cycle is coming to an end, a space business cycle is starting and some foreign issues are moving...

and in the end that will cause a lunar goal done as never before to come up.  I might not be "that smart" but I am an eternal realist couple with pragmatic optimist.

we will see. 

I admire your optimism and your view of what the future may bring.

However, I must warn you: I've seen the crystal balls of many here fail spectacularly.

Including mine.

as the guy said "through the glass darkly"

one thing I learned a long time ago when the first "commercial space" boomlet came and floundered (remember when Av Week had its sister publication "commercial space"?)  is that nothing can force markets, but when the synergy comes together "for Markets", nothing can stop them either

the best example of this in space is communications satellites.  the US government forced Syncom (after rejecting Advent) and while it worked, the idea sat more or less proped up by government spending...until the mid 70's when the technology all came together...and bang Westar and Anik (and PBS) changed history

human spaceflight came about 70 years to early.  and has gone no where...but the synergy that was lacking the 80's when Shuttle and Ariane did their battle...is trying to form again

and this time I think :) its there.  now this may just be the Syncom phase...but I sense we are going to at least give "market formation" a try one more time.  and the Moon/LEO will be the target

Online TrevorMonty

Re: 25 Good Reasons To Go To The Moon
« Reply #30 on: 09/11/2018 07:42 PM »
The following link is Dr George Sowers s
Testimony to Subcommittee on Space Committee on Science, Space and Technology
United States House of Representatives

https://www.google.co.nz/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.hq.nasa.gov/legislative/hearings/9-7-17%2520SOWERS.pdf&ved=2ahUKEwjM1oH91rPdAhWSdd4KHRStAkIQFjACegQIBxAB&usg=AOvVaw0DpLY1hTisKm9AzgBdWTcv

It is on the importance of moon future space activities. Top list is mining lunar water for life support and more importantly fuel. 
He gives a price of $500kg on surface, $1000kg at EML1 and $3000kg at LEO, this price of lunar fuel at these locations.  I'd expect SpaceX and Blue to provide it lot cheaper than $3000kg at LEO.

Based on these prices a here are costs of 10ton lunar lander doing round trip from LEO-moon-LEO. NB return leg is lot cheaper than outward leg.

Leo-EML1 13t x$3m = $39m
EML1- moon 8t x$1m =$8m
Moon-EML1 8t x$500k =$4m
EML1-LEO 13t x$1m =$13m.
Total $64m.
« Last Edit: 09/11/2018 07:49 PM by TrevorMonty »

Offline DougSpace

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Re: 25 Good Reasons To Go To The Moon
« Reply #31 on: 09/17/2018 03:12 PM »
Here’s some more reasons:

- Ensuring the survival of the human species
- International leadership
- Crewed lunar exploration
- Political experimentation and freedom
- Retirement & tourism
- Solar history
- Impact history
- AG & Rx
- Public inspiration
- Backing up the biosphere
- Lunar jewelry
- Virtual reality
- Training ground for Mars & beyond
- Mastering ISRU
- Propulsion services

Offline Lar

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Re: 25 Good Reasons To Go To The Moon
« Reply #32 on: 09/17/2018 04:09 PM »
AG and RX?

Some of your reasons might need a bit of elaboration (which you can do via "modify this post")...   Thanks!!!
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Offline jbenton

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Re: 25 Good Reasons To Go To The Moon
« Reply #33 on: 09/20/2018 12:15 AM »
I had not even noticed that.  EML-2 is the last place I would want to put a space station, as it messes with the one big thing farside has going for it;  the isolation from Earth.   Plus it then itself has to deal with being blocked from Earthcom.

...

But then if you mess up the quietness with some space staion overhead, with vehicles coming and going, you've lost it again.  It does not matter if you could "filter out" specific frequencies - the presense of any RF or even heat energy at all ruins the radio receivers for these things for a period of time.   I remember being told on a tour of the Big Ear telescope that if a Canada Goose would happen to fly though the antenna (it was the size of a football field), just its body heat would decalibrate their liquid-Nitrogen-cooled detector.

Nothing should go at EML-2.  The scientists should be jumping all over this.

Point of Information: Halo orbits can be varied, and so a facility at EML-2 is not necessarily Earth-blind.  If you make the radius of the halo big enough then the facility would be able to peek around the rim of the Moon.  There are consequences to this, as the orbit period is substantially longer than a halo that's in tight around the Earth-Moon CoM line.  Big halos are absolutely not a problem.

Not Earth-blind:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chang%27e_4#Queqiao_relay

Having a persistent comms link between Earth and the Far Side is the whole point of going to EML-2

I don't know what to do about the thermal issues, but it would be a simple matter to pass an int't treaty banning RF comms in Far Side Lunar orbits and at L2 except for Quegiao (which will run out of fuel eventually and lose it's orbit - L1, L2, and L3 do not produce stable orbits - so that issue solves itself).
Lasers are better anyways.
« Last Edit: 09/20/2018 02:53 AM by jbenton »

Offline DougSpace

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Re: 25 Good Reasons To Go To The Moon
« Reply #34 on: 09/20/2018 12:20 AM »
I’ll select certain items to elaborate.  I can elaborate on more items if necessary.

AG Rx = Finding out the artificial gravity prescription for health gestation and childhood using an indoor centrifuge.  Yes, we could figure out these AG Rxs in a dedicated LEO station but the point is to apply the findings on the Moon and Mars.  So, why not go there first and then find out the answer in the setting that we need to know it in.  Here’s a diagram I made illustrating what might be the fastest way of determining AG Rxs.  http://www.developspace.info/images/agprotocol.png

International leadership: America’s leadership in space is a big motivator for space funding on both sides of the aisle.  By encouraging other countries to follow our lead in funding their own companies to develop redundant, dissimilar elements to our end-to-end lunar transportation system, the US would be setting the tone as we open up the Moon and space to human exploration and settlement.  By making it affordable for about 2/3rds of the countries to purchase at least one seat in a lunar exploration team, significant international gratitude, prestige, and influence would result.  See: http://spacedevelopment.org/ilcots.html

Retirement:  Who will be able to afford the ticket price and the free time to move to the Moon?  Retirees will have had the time to save up the ticket price and the freedom from childrearing and occupational responsibilities.  Retirees will be way over-represented among the initial settlement population.

Public Inspiration: Educational goals for the first crew on the Moon could inspire youth around the world to study the STEM subjects.  If done right, the first crew back to the Moon could be very historic and do a large number of newsworthy things.  If selected for this, the initial crew could speak the languages of and so connect with about 70% of the world’s population.
http://spacedevelopment.org/inspiration.html
http://spacedevelopment.org/watching.html

Propulsion Services: Harvest and electrolyze lunar polar ice and, in about 44 days, a XEUS lander could be refueled and ascend to about EML1 and retrieve about 20 tonnes of payload launched on a Falcon Heavy.  But also, the XEUS could dock with a satellite and push it to a higher or junk orbit.  Two refueled landers docking in LLO could perform service throughout cislunar space and make it back to the Moon to refuel.

Lunar Jewelry: A cubic meter of lunar rock could be cut into five million 1 x 1 x 0.2 cm pieces and incorporated into jewelry.  Even with that many pieces, only one in 750 women would own a piece of the Moon — rarer than diamonds.  The revenue could be a substantial portion of the development costs of the initial base.

The BioPreserve: A consortium of universities and colleges worldwide could collect specimen of he scientifically-described species in their most reproducible forms and aggregate them into two 10-tonne payloads. These could be landed on the Moon and moved to a deep, cryogenic shelter at a lunar pole serving as a back-up of the biosphere in case some human-made, self-replicating technology infected Earth’s atmosphere.
« Last Edit: 09/20/2018 12:26 AM by DougSpace »

Online Tulse

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Re: 25 Good Reasons To Go To The Moon
« Reply #35 on: 09/20/2018 01:24 PM »
I very much doubt that retirees would be very desirable in an initial settlement, as they are more likely to develop age-related health problems than younger people.  In addition, I have a hard time imagining that one would want to retire to a relatively austere location with little in the way of amenities, remote from one's family and friends, where the cost of resources for merely living (such as air, water, and heat) are enormous and likely passed on to you.

There is a reason there aren't a lot of retirement communities in northern Greenland.

And as for survival of the human species, I am very dubious that a Moon settlement will ever be truly self-sufficient, which is what is needed to be a real backup for humanity.  Mars is by far a better choice for a second self-sustaining human presence.

Offline Lunadyne

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Re: 25 Good Reasons To Go To The Moon
« Reply #36 on: 09/20/2018 06:04 PM »
I agree with Tulse in that an initial facility on the Moon would be unlikely to be a geriatric facility, however it has long been speculated that older folks moving to the Moon could get a new lease on life through a combination of the significantly lower gravity (aiding the heart, among other things) and a controlled environment.  Don't think that people aren't thinking about it.  I was interviewed a number of years ago by an Israeli newspaper about the Moon and the journalist mentioned that the reason they contacted me was because people were asking about the validity of retirement communities on the Moon.  My guess is that some fraudster was trying to sell rich Jews on investing in Lunar retirement homes.  I pointed out that it was unlikely to happen quickly, but is nevertheless an interesting concept worth exploring.  The most likely phrase to be uttered at Earthlight Acres is "I've fallen and I can't get...oh wait, yes I can get up.  Never mind!"  Plus the heightened levels of radiation are less of an issue for them.  Still an issue, but less of one.

Totally disagree about self-sufficiency.  There are few communities on Earth that are entirely self-sufficient; if they are they've likely stagnated technologically.  Trade brings benefits, and the Moon is going to be a much better trading partner than Mars.  If only from a capital investment perspective.  If I have a cargo vessel, I'll have a choice between the Moon run and the Mars Run.  The Moon is less than a week each way, while Mars is -at best- 6 months away each way.  Let's say 15 months round trip for this example.  In the time it takes to run a cargo load to Mars, I could have run 30+ trips to the Moon.  30 monetized cargo loads (plus deadheading lunar regolith, Moonshine and lunajuana™) compared with one.  Throw in some asset depreciation accounting tricks and you're talking some real money.

An initial Mars colony is absolutely not going to be self-sufficient in anything even remotely resembling the near term.  There will absolutely be supply chains braving six plus months of collision risk to run supplies to the settlers.  To assume otherwise is imprudent.

Glad for the clarification on AG and Rx.  My first thought was Agriculture and Pharmaceuticals (derived from plants), which, when considered in the unique terroir of the the Moon, is actually kind of interesting.  Hmmm, the trace elements are going to allow for genetic expression you won't normally see here on Earth, which combined with epigenetics...hmmm.  I need to cogitate on this one a bit more.

ThereIWas3 pointed to several more recent articles on Lunar radio astronomy, from which I identified three scientists interviewed (plus team members).  I decided not to contact one of them because their webpage indicated a dual teaching focus in Physics & Astronomy and Women's Gender Studies.  Call me sexist, but I consider the latter to be an unserious 'science' when compared with Physics or Chemistry or even Biology.  Of the two I did contact one is semi-retired, the other active.  Both have been aware of the issue.  They don't really see the regular comms as being an issue because they're going to be at wavelengths well, well beyond where the radio telescopes will be looking.  I even noted to them that NASA is probably going to announce laser comms as the silver bullet solution to the issue. 

The issue is going to be the RFI generated by the equipment used to broadcast the comms.  That is probably going to have to be shielded in some way, and the active scientist indicated that they are about to start a study with LockMart on the topic.  This would likely be the case even if lasers were used.  Which brings me back to my initial question: Is the slight delta-V advantage of staging from EML-2 for MARS! as compared with EML-1 worth the likely opportunity cost of the quietest and potentially most significant radio telescope location in the Solar System?  Call me a sciencephile, but I've got to lean towards the telescopes; just stage from EML-1 for crying out loud.

On the jewelry angle - one idea I had (that I've probably already mentioned but will do so again) was for a pendant that would incorporate a circular thin section of a lunar breccia mounted above a polarized LED.  One or the other would rotate (probably the thin section), and as it did so the colors of the different minerals in the sample would be changing in a constant cycle.  It would definitely be an eye-catching piece, and is something different from the usual watch faces, cuff links, earrings, bracelets, &c. that are offered up as jewelry options for lunar rocks.

Which now has me wondering: What if you could assemble watch mechanisms in a vacuum environment?  It's unlikely to be able to be entirely sealed (wait, magnets?...) but would it allow the mechanism to function more efficiently over longer periods?

See, this is why cislunar space needs to be developed as an economic sphere.  Human creativity will make it an enriching part of our lives in innumerable ways that we cannot possibly imagine from our current perspective.  It's not until we're out there in a robust way, leveraging off of infrastructure that has been emplaced to enable such things, especially, primarily, can we just get it done already, transport of crews to orbit, and then throughout cislunar space, that the value of the efforts will start revealing themselves.

Online TrevorMonty

Re: 25 Good Reasons To Go To The Moon
« Reply #37 on: 09/20/2018 07:45 PM »
No space colony will be totally self sufficient. To be independent of earth will require millions of people spread across different colonies, eg moon, Mars, Oneil cylinders in cislunar and asteriod belt. The complete supply train for technology needed to survive in space is huge, requiring lots factories and different materials.

We need to start somewhere, moon is good place to begin. Has lots of resources, low gravity well and most important close to earth for supplies and as a market for any exports.


Online Tulse

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Re: 25 Good Reasons To Go To The Moon
« Reply #38 on: 09/20/2018 08:23 PM »
Regarding retirees, I am dubious that many folks will be willing to trade the health benefits of lower gravity for the health dangers of limited medical facilities, along with a rather austere lifestyle.  It's presumably an empirical question, but I just don't see the Moon ever being so luxurious, at a reasonable cost, and with sufficient health care resources, for it to be attractive to a significant number of older adults.  Even if northern Greenland were at .16g, I don't think many people would retire there.

As for self-sufficiency, I agree that there aren't many societies on earth that are, but the claim was that going to the moon could ensure survival of the human species.  And that criterion most definitely requires self-sufficiency.  Any moon colony that relies on the Earth for crucial supplies can't ensure humanity's survival -- a global extinction event on Earth would kill a lunar colony as well.  I agree that actual self-sufficiency is really hard, and likely not achievable at even a moderately long time scale.  But I think that, given their comparative resources (both on the bodies themselves and in nearby accessible bodies) it is far more likely to be achievable on Mars than on the moon.

Offline DougSpace

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Re: 25 Good Reasons To Go To The Moon
« Reply #39 on: 09/21/2018 12:51 AM »
The problem here is that you guys are reasoning from analogy and not from first principles.  Yes, we live in a modern society with factories, international shipping, Home Depots nearby, etc.  But this analogy is not the right way of looking at the issue of self-sustaining because all of those things were developed to bring down costs and not to become self-sustaining.

Rather, I believe that the right way of looking at this matter is by asking, "What actually is necessary to become self-sustaining".  The answer to that question is not factories, interplanetary trade etc, but rather things like pressure vessels, oxygen to breath, food, water, protection from radiation, reproduction, the equipment to provide these things and make the equipment, etc.  So then the reasoning becomes like, "OK, how do we make oxygen from local resources"?  Does that require civilizations, factories, etc?  Or does it require specific pieces of equipment?

People who work on ISRU have definite ideas for how to make water, food, oxygen, metals, etc from local resources and it has relatively little to do with the mass efficiencies employed in modern society.  They are specific technical challenges.

But space advocates can usually acknowledge that the bulky materials ("dumb mass") and parts from those could be made from ISRU.  But what it usually comes down to is the electronics which is probably the hardest thing for a small base to produce.  This is where I introduce the concept of "sufficient supply" and "good-enough".  If one were to deliver a 1 x 1 x 1 meter box, it could hold about 2,000 AMD CPUs.  For a small base that could last many decades if not hundreds of years.  True, they will run out one day but what you are doing is buying the base time to implement technology protocols to develop the capability of producing not modern, AMD CPUs but something easier like an 8088 processor.  Given that the 8088 came out well after the Apollo program, it would probably be "good enough" to run telerobots or a lander.

So we need to think about these things from the specific itemized challenges and work on knocking off those challenges.

Then there is the issue of retirees being living in cramped quarters.  Yeah, this is only the case if you are not trying to solve that problem.  I did a presentation at a previous Mars Society Convention in which I describe how very large, relatively low-mass, inflatable habitats could be delivered and telerobotically shielded prior to crew arrival.  There's really no good reason to presume that people will have to be in a small tin can or something.  That video is here:


ADDENDUM: I imagine that most space colonies will not be trying to become self-sustaining.  They will engage in trade to keep their costs down as do all cities on Earth.  But it is possible and advisable to establish small colonies specifically for the purpose of being self-sufficient.  And connection to them from the outside world should be controlled through quarantine and they should be aiming for being sufficiently supplied with stockpiles and working on those technology protocols to becoming completely self-sustaining.  As with self-sustaining but isolated tribes on Earth, their goal should be to be technically self-sustaining rather than economically efficient.
« Last Edit: 09/21/2018 01:03 AM by DougSpace »

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