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posted by takyon on Tuesday June 23 2015, @12:18AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the regolith-monolith dept.

On July 1, Johann-Dietrich Wörner will become the new general director of the European Space Agency. SPIEGEL speaks with him about his dream of building a colony on the moon and the difficulties of traveling to Mars.

SPIEGEL: Which celestial body would you like to travel to most of all?

Wörner: My dream would be to fly to the moon and build permanent structures, using the raw materials available there. For instance, regolith, or moon dust, could be used to make a form of concrete. Using 3-D printers, we could build all kinds of things with that moon concrete -- houses, streets and observatories, for example.

SPIEGEL: The only question is how you intend to transport European astronauts into space in the future. Currently, you are completely dependent on Russian Soyuz capsules. If relations with Russia continue to worsen, it could jeopardize joint flights.

Wörner: Russia is and remains an extremely reliable partner for us. Even in the Cold War, space travel helped ease political tensions. Just think of the famous rendezvous maneuver in the summer of 1975, when an American Apollo spaceship and a Soviet Soyuz spaceship docked while orbiting the earth. And today, we space travellers can once again help overcome the current period of crisis.

[...] SPIEGEL: Shouldn't we Europeans be capable of taking people into space without outside help?

Wörner: Unfortunately, we missed a number of opportunities. For instance, it would have been possible to convert the ATV cargo spacecraft into a manned spaceship. We should have done more with that.

SPIEGEL: What caused the project to fail?

Wörner: Money, as is so often the case in life. Every nation wants to shoot astronauts into space and toot its own horn for doing so. However, there is only limited enthusiasm among the ESA member states to pay for manned space travel. But perhaps there will be new opportunities at some point. I'm not giving up hope that we Europeans will create our own manned access to orbit.

Can we make it to the stars without national prestige being the goal?


Original Submission

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ESA Plans to Send Mining Equipment to the Moon 10 comments

The European Space Agency plans to start mining for natural resources on the moon

The European Space Agency plans to start mining for water and oxygen on the moon by 2025.

The agency announced Monday it has signed a 1-year contract with European aerospace company ArianeGroup to explore mining regolith, also known as lunar soil or moon dust.

Water and oxygen can be extracted from regolith, potentially making it easier for humans to spend time on the moon in the future, according to ArianeGroup. The research could also make it possible to produce rocket fuel on the moon, enabling future expeditions to go further into space, the aerospace company said.

[...] The mission would be a collaboration between aerospace scientists and technicians in France, Germany and Belgium. The project is now in the research phase, with scientists hoping to use an Ariane 64 rocket in coming years to send mining equipment to the moon.

Previously: New ESA Head Wörner: 'We Could Build All Kinds of Things with Moon Concrete'
ESA Expert Envisions "Moon Village" by 2030-2050

Related: Moon Base Could Cost Just $10 Billion Due to New Technologies
How to Get Back to the Moon in 4 Years, Permanently
Who Owns The Moon? A Space Lawyer Answers


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 23 2015, @12:22AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 23 2015, @12:22AM (#199663)

    "The enemy of my enemy is my bone marrow."

    • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Tuesday June 23 2015, @01:40AM

      by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday June 23 2015, @01:40AM (#199690) Journal

      Hope your blood marrow doesn't turn against you to make you sick with leukaemia.

      --
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
  • (Score: 2) by Tork on Tuesday June 23 2015, @01:04AM

    by Tork (3914) on Tuesday June 23 2015, @01:04AM (#199674)
    I dunno... I mean moon dust is a great portal conductor but it's highly poisonous.
    --
    Slashdolt Logic: "24 year old jokes about sharks and lasers are +5, Funny." 💩
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 23 2015, @01:19AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 23 2015, @01:19AM (#199679)

    Mooncrete would look nice on your patio.

  • (Score: 2) by bart9h on Tuesday June 23 2015, @02:12AM

    by bart9h (767) on Tuesday June 23 2015, @02:12AM (#199699)

    Can you do an apple pie?

    Please?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 23 2015, @02:52AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 23 2015, @02:52AM (#199706)

      Yes.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 23 2015, @07:21AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 23 2015, @07:21AM (#199769)

      It would be possible, but there are trademark issues, so it won't be done.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 23 2015, @12:19PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 23 2015, @12:19PM (#199843)

        And rounded corners.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 23 2015, @02:27AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 23 2015, @02:27AM (#199702)
    Yeap, if you speak mandarin.
  • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Tuesday June 23 2015, @03:22AM

    by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday June 23 2015, @03:22AM (#199712) Journal
    If they get over the Greek crisis, it will demonstrate that nothing is impossible.
    --
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 23 2015, @07:23AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 23 2015, @07:23AM (#199770)

      Well, maybe that's the solution to Greek debt crisis: Put all the debt on a space ship and shoot it to the moon. ;-)

  • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 23 2015, @03:22AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 23 2015, @03:22AM (#199713)

    Oh.

  • (Score: 2) by nyder on Tuesday June 23 2015, @03:49AM

    by nyder (4525) on Tuesday June 23 2015, @03:49AM (#199719)

    Truth is, the Moon is close, easier to get to, and a great launch pad for our space exploration. If we can successfully build a base on the moon, then it proves we can do it on Mars. Not to mention launching rockets from the moon will be easier then launching them from Earth.

    The Americans have dropped the ball on Space big time, and it's going to bite us in the ass.

    • (Score: 1) by anubi on Tuesday June 23 2015, @08:31AM

      by anubi (2828) on Tuesday June 23 2015, @08:31AM (#199783) Journal

      There seems to be an awful lot of things that are unexplained concerning the moon....

      Things like this [bibliotecapleyades.net]. ( Yes, I am serious ).

      --
      "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
      • (Score: 2) by GreatAuntAnesthesia on Tuesday June 23 2015, @09:10AM

        by GreatAuntAnesthesia (3275) on Tuesday June 23 2015, @09:10AM (#199796) Journal

        Many, if not all of those questions would be answered by this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giant_impact_hypothesis [wikipedia.org]

        One of the bulletpoints in your list points mentions a number of competing theories about the moon's formation, and the Giant Impact Hypothesis is not among them, which suggests that your list was compiled before the hypothesis was formed.

      • (Score: 2) by Yog-Yogguth on Thursday July 23 2015, @06:11PM

        by Yog-Yogguth (1862) Subscriber Badge on Thursday July 23 2015, @06:11PM (#212790) Journal

        In before comments close :D (feel free to reply elsewhere if you want to or send a mail, I'm just very late in catching up is all).

        I find the idea of hollow moons and planets very likable/entertaining/appealing but you might want to read this [wikipedia.org] and apply a hefty amount of salt¹ to the page you linked. It's still a lovely idea though and who knows maybe somewhere in the vast future our inheritors might discover such a hollow object somewhere :)

        Unfortunately there's a lot more stuff that shoots holes into that page you linked:

        1. For the existence of any life of the kind that exists on Earth tides are believed [scientificamerican.com]² to be crucial, although the supposed link between lunar months [wikipedia.org] and mammalian menstrual cycles seems weak, nonsensical, or simply nonexistent [wikipedia.org]
        2. The complete lack of any NASA pictures or (search engine readable) texts using the naming convention provided (at least in my search), i.e. not even any partial matches to NASA sources (and in my opinion there should be loads if it was genuine, not of the same picture or feature but at least from the same source).
        3. How trivial it is to add elongated black shadows to a picture or to misrepresent (or create or exacerbate) transmission and/or imaging artifacts in extremely low resolution photographs (judging the unimpressive results I did find on non-NASA speculative pages).
        4. NASA's Project Moon Blink [wikipedia.org]³ and the NASA PDF [nasa.gov] (4.1 MB).
        5. A lot of the claims on the page you linked are simply wrong/outdated, or even “not even wrong” (like the whole volcano thing or not realizing that moonquakes are fueled and triggered by tidal forces from the Earth acting on the Moon). There are magnetic fields [wikipedia.org] on the Moon for instance but it should also be obvious from the surface that a lot of material has arrived from elsewhere, some of which might have been magnetic or become magnetized on impact —plasmas for the win! :D

        Sorry if this is a very dull reply, I'm not against “weird stuff” I only want it to be some of the real weird stuff (like the Moon Blink thing or sprites [wikipedia.org] or ball lightning [wikipedia.org] or Hessdalen lights [wikipedia.org], not that serious [forteana.org] “forteana” [mikedash.com] or unusual history [wordpress.com] can't be fun too although I never really have the time to indulge in it any more), there is enough of that to go around in both science and in life in general :3

        I actually cried when Hynek [wikipedia.org] died :(

        Damn the world has changed an incredible amount in thirty years (and obviously I'm older than that) …and by mentioning that I now feel like a dinosaur …although maybe I kind of look like one too XD *struggles not to get sucked into the massive vortex of nostalgia*

        However if it was my choice the Moon would be a as hollow as a Kinder Egg except for all the spaceship parts (“aliens”/“gods”/ancestors optional) and internal rotating artificial/simulated centripetal gravity XD (no need for any “magic gravity carpets” —I'm not keen on that kind of hand-waving).

        ¹ Funnily enough that idiomatic expression is based on superstition i.e. a superstitious interpretation (cleansing) of the preservative quality of salt.
        ² I write “believed” because while it's convincing it's still speculative.
        ³ Not “Operation” but “Project”, perhaps a trivial difference for something published in 1995, not as easy to find out then I guess (why didn't the writer contact NASA?).

        • (Score: 2) by Yog-Yogguth on Friday July 24 2015, @05:36AM

          by Yog-Yogguth (1862) Subscriber Badge on Friday July 24 2015, @05:36AM (#213030) Journal

          By the way a bit more on moonquakes [wikipedia.org]. Not all kinds are tidal and maybe the sun is a larger source of tidal stresses (I don't know).

          Some other links that might interest: lunar dome/shield volcano [wikipedia.org] and Transient Lunar Phenomenon (TLP) [wikipedia.org].

          --
          Bite harder Ouroboros, bite! tails.boum.org/ linux USB CD secure desktop IRC *crypt tor (not endorsements (XKeyScore))
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 23 2015, @05:45AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 23 2015, @05:45AM (#199752)

    That window is closed now as we ran out of fossil fuels.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 23 2015, @02:13PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 23 2015, @02:13PM (#199889)

      There are centuries of available fossil fuels, solar and nuclear propulsion methods, and rocket fuels not made of hydrocarbons.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 23 2015, @06:46PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 23 2015, @06:46PM (#200026)

        Show me a coal powered rocket... Yes we have ways to produce energy but the catch is the cost. And since we're out of economically feasible fossils, we can't afford to do jack.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 24 2015, @03:32PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 24 2015, @03:32PM (#200423)

      We don't have to get all of us to space, just a small self sustaining colony. Reproduction will do the rest. We've got plenty of fuel to do that. Water = Hydrogen & Oxygen (rocket fuel), and it can be split with electrolysis powered by solar.

      Consider water "fossil fuel" left over from our ancestral supernova's decomposition.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 23 2015, @06:37AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 23 2015, @06:37AM (#199759)

    i'm surprised there hasn't yet been a star wars 'that's no moon' joke :/

  • (Score: 2) by WizardFusion on Tuesday June 23 2015, @10:59AM

    by WizardFusion (498) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday June 23 2015, @10:59AM (#199821) Journal

    It's always about money and national pride.
    Once we have a totalitarian global government, there will be no more wars to spend the money on, so it can all go into space travel. :)

  • (Score: 2) by gnuman on Tuesday June 23 2015, @05:14PM

    by gnuman (5013) on Tuesday June 23 2015, @05:14PM (#199985)

    Concrete requires one thing that Moon doesn't have in abundance - water. Concrete is also based on carbon chemistry, again, something that moon doesn't have.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portland_cement#Manufacturing [wikipedia.org]

    But then even if you could somehow build concrete without carbon or water, then it is still a very bad idea to build on surface. Moon doesn't have an atmosphere. It doesn't have a magnetic field. It's surface is exposed to solar flares. Anyone living in a surface structure will die from radiation poisoning.

    The only way to live on the Moon or on Mars is to build underground, like ants. Build a tunnel boring machine, and start building homes and roads underground. You are then protected from outside vacuum, outside radiation. The only things that could be placed on surface of these (near?) lifeless rocks are solar collectors, launch pads and maybe dumps.