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posted by janrinok on Tuesday November 22, @02:41PM   Printer-friendly
from the not-just-for-bacteria dept.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/63694132

So according to NASA humans could be living on the moon, for long periods of time, before the end of the decade. So from more or less nothing to (pre-) colonization in about seven (or eight) years then. At least the moon is closer then Mars, but you are probably still borked if something goes wrong.

"We're going to be sending people down to the surface and they're going to be living on that surface and doing science," Mr Hu said.

"It's really going to be very important for us to learn a little bit beyond our Earth's orbit and then do a big step when we go to Mars.

"And the Artemis missions enable us to have a sustainable platform and transportation system that allows us to learn how to operate in that deep space environment."

Big question then is -- if asked (or given the opportunity) would you go?


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  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, @02:59PM (20 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, @02:59PM (#1281034)

    No one is going to be colonizing, or even living on the Moon based on the NASA rocket that costs $2 billion a pop and takes over a year to produce a single rocket.

    Maybe Musk could do it, but the last I heard he was aiming for Mars (and without NASA's help).

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Username on Tuesday November 22, @03:56PM (4 children)

      by Username (4557) on Tuesday November 22, @03:56PM (#1281054)

      Astronauts are motivated by achievements and career goals. They do not possess the pioneering will to create a homestead in a hostile environment. They will just check the box next to "walk on moon" and head home. That's the best we will get out of NASA.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, @05:02PM (3 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, @05:02PM (#1281072)

        Egotistical billionaires are entirely different.

        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday November 23, @03:46AM (2 children)

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday November 23, @03:46AM (#1281201) Journal

          Egotistical billionaires are entirely different.

          I get that you're trying to be sarcastic, but well, it's quite true. Musk started from zero in 2002 and has built the top orbit launch platform in the world in 20 years. I don't buy the present claimed economics for the Spaceship launch stack, but it will put the SLS to shame.

          • (Score: 1, Troll) by mhajicek on Wednesday November 23, @05:33AM (1 child)

            by mhajicek (51) on Wednesday November 23, @05:33AM (#1281214)

            Or more accurately, he hired people to build the top orbital launch platform.

            --
            The spacelike surfaces of time foliations can have a cusp at the surface of discontinuity. - P. Hajicek
            • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday November 23, @05:37AM

              by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday November 23, @05:37AM (#1281215) Journal

              Or more accurately, he hired people to build the top orbital launch platform.

              So did a couple dozen other government agencies and businesses. Turns out you need more than that.

    • (Score: 2) by theluggage on Tuesday November 22, @04:31PM (10 children)

      by theluggage (1797) on Tuesday November 22, @04:31PM (#1281063)

      Maybe Musk could do it, but the last I heard he was aiming for Mars (and without NASA's help).

      Isn't SpaceX supposed to be making the lander for Artemis (and getting it to lunar orbit)?

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, @05:05PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, @05:05PM (#1281074)

        Yes, but that's a sideline for them. At the rate things are going, NASA will never make it far enough for an actual manned (personed?) landing to take place.

      • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Tuesday November 22, @05:32PM (8 children)

        by Immerman (3985) on Tuesday November 22, @05:32PM (#1281087)

        Yep. In fact I want to say NASA just recently commissioned a second Lunar Starship.

        Fortunately NASA no longer seems to have any great attachment to SLS. It's the politically cancel-proof legacy of an era when there was no other viable options that was delayed into irrelevance, but it's mission list doesn't appear to be expanding beyond those originally laid out.

        Meanwhile, NASA appears to be tentatively embracing Starship for their long term plans, while SLS's success means the orbital gateway missions at least can proceed despite the SpaceX delays. And that there will be a human-rated vehicle to get astronauts to lunar orbit. Starship's lack of an abort system means it will be unlikely to be crew rated on Earth any time soon - but on the moon there's not much point in an abort system - getting back to orbit is a long shot without an enormous amount of additional hardware, and getting safely to the surface without a return rocket leaves you just as dead, only with more time to say your goodbyes. At least until substantial surface infrastructure is in place.

        Now lets just hope SpaceX can get their shit together to have a human-safe lunar lander in time for the 2025 mission. NASA may not be requiring an abort system - but if SpaceX's "move fast and break things" philosophy ends up killing the astronauts, the fallout could end the Artemis program and hand the moon to China.

        • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, @06:21PM (7 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, @06:21PM (#1281112)

          SpaceX already has a safe, proven way of getting astronauts to/from the Earth: Falcon/Dragon. With the Moon lander, they will have everything else to do human Moon landing missions without NASA. They don't need SLS, and they certainly don't need the ridiculous orbital gateway (that exists only to make up for the shortcomings of SLS).

          • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Tuesday November 22, @10:23PM (1 child)

            by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday November 22, @10:23PM (#1281167) Journal

            My understanding is that the Dragon is not a lunar capsule. Only an ISS and LEO capsule. I have no doubt SpaceX can design and build a lunar capsule.

            Also Dragon cannot reboost the ISS. But Boeing's yet to fly Starliner is able to reboost the ISS. So the Russians have to reboost the ISS for now.

            --
            I get constant rejection even though the compiler is supposed to accept constants.
            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 23, @03:08PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 23, @03:08PM (#1281282)

              Only an ISS and LEO capsule. I have no doubt SpaceX can design and build a lunar capsule.

              SpaceX is building the lunar "capsule". SpaceX can get astronauts into Earth orbit today, which is something NASA can't do. NASA is relying on SpaceX to build a manned vehicle to take astronauts between Lunar orbit and Lunar surface. The SpaceX moon lander has to successfully make it from Earth orbit to Lunar orbit for NASA to get astronauts on the Moon.

              Are you really suggesting that the the SpaceX Lunar lander is capable of safely carrying astronauts in Lunar space, but not capable of carrying them between Earth and Lunar orbits???

          • (Score: 1, Troll) by Immerman on Tuesday November 22, @11:48PM (4 children)

            by Immerman (3985) on Tuesday November 22, @11:48PM (#1281174)

            I'm pretty sure Falcon/Dragon can't reach lunar orbit. Falcon Heavy easily could, but that's a whole additional ordeal of human-safe certification that SpaceX has no interest in wasting resources on. Especially not with them being way behind schedule on Lunar Starship - if they can't get that running in time the Artemis program could be screwed. They haven't even reached orbit yet, and only have two years to master both orbital refueling and landing on squishy, uneven surfaces - preferably without launching a bunch of lunar material into cislunar orbit where it would become a permanent navigation hazard, which is a realistic concern given Raptor exhaust speed.

            The Lunar Gateway is going to be a lot more than just a transfer station - at a minimum it's the orbital base camp from which we'll scout out where to build a permanent lunar base, and a fallback position in case of a disaster early on. Though, granted, if Starship had been around when the Artemis program was conceived things would likely be very different, and a permanent space station might not be established until some time after a robust lunar base was in operation. Being able to land an entire space station on the surface and bring it back to orbit does change things, but you're still going to want orbital backup - though that could easily take the form of keeping one or more additional Starships in orbit in case they're needed. Even the Lunar model is likely to come it at under half-a-billion dollars each, a positive steal (the standard Starship is estimated to cost a quarter-billion without life support, landing gear, etc.)

            • (Score: 3, Informative) by mhajicek on Wednesday November 23, @05:40AM (3 children)

              by mhajicek (51) on Wednesday November 23, @05:40AM (#1281216)

              Falcon/Dragon wouldn't need to reach lunar orbit.

              SpaceX is already going to have to launch Lunar Starship, refuel it, and get it to the moon. Have Dragon transfer crew in LEO before it goes. Do the mission, come back to LEO, transfer back for landing.

              SLS and Gateway have nothing to add to this equation.

              --
              The spacelike surfaces of time foliations can have a cusp at the surface of discontinuity. - P. Hajicek
              • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Wednesday November 23, @06:03AM (2 children)

                by Immerman (3985) on Wednesday November 23, @06:03AM (#1281221)

                Yeah, if the plan wasn't already in place before Starship was even a serious proposal, that might be the way to go. But "nimble" is not NASA's strong suit.

                You still don't want to be shipping equipment back from the Moon to Earth orbit though - that's a ferociously expensive flight. Much better if you can leave it in lunar orbit for the next landing. At least until you decide where the base on the surface will be and start leaving it there.

                I agree SLS is (mostly) useless - but as I already mentioned it's politically untouchable, at least until it completes it's pre-planned mission roster. No sense wasting complaints on it unless you're talking to NASA's future mission planners.

                • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 23, @09:01PM (1 child)

                  by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 23, @09:01PM (#1281333)

                  No sense wasting complaints on it unless you're talking to NASA's future mission planners.

                  At 4 billion a shot, I think it's worth complaining as widely as possible.

                  • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Friday November 25, @01:01AM

                    by Immerman (3985) on Friday November 25, @01:01AM (#1281531)

                    To what end? The senators forcing it to continue are using it to pull in the pork for their home districts and are unlikely to be voted out, which seems to be the only way SLS will be retired before the initial Artemis missions have flown.

                    I agree it's a travesty, but at this point everyone recognizes that - even NASA administrators are beginning to speak openly against it. But sanity and ethics have little place in politics.

    • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Tuesday November 22, @04:58PM (2 children)

      by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday November 22, @04:58PM (#1281071) Journal

      the NASA rocket that costs $2 billion a pop

      From what I've read, conservative estimates are $4+ billion a pop.

      Musk says $2 Million for a Starship launch. Even if he's off by a factor of 100, and thus $200 Million per launch, that is less than 1/20 the cost of an SLS launch. For a substantial payload. Even multiple launches to put up support infrastructure is likely cheaper than SLS.

      --
      I get constant rejection even though the compiler is supposed to accept constants.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, @08:03PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, @08:03PM (#1281135)

        The only profitable "colony" on the moon will be the LunarMax prison

      • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Wednesday November 23, @07:21AM

        by Immerman (3985) on Wednesday November 23, @07:21AM (#1281231)

        It will be interesting to see how Lunar Starship stacks up. It won't be able to return to Earth (no heat shielding), so it will get minimal servicing while operating in a much harsher environment. NASA's current plan seems to be a single use, though it sounds like they're starting to consider at least limited re-use.

        And a normal Starship will likely be unsuitable for lunar landings, even with landing gear, since the Raptor exhaust velocity is over 50% greater than lunar escape velocity, and can thus kick debris into Earth orbit where it becomes a permanent hazard to everything in lunar space.

        From what I've heard the manufacturing cost estimate for a basic orbital Starship is a quarter billion dollars - and the Lunar model is likely to be at least as expensive. Much better than the SLS, even with single-use, but that's a really low bar to cross. In fact, too low to really matter to realistic plans to develop the moon.

    • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Tuesday November 22, @05:54PM

      by Immerman (3985) on Tuesday November 22, @05:54PM (#1281100)

      Even Musk is going to want to practice landing on undeveloped regolith, and NASA is paying them a huge amount of money (I want to say billions?) not just for a couple Lunar Starships, but also for the development and testing of the unsupported landing systems. Especially important now that they're trying to remove the landing system entirely from their initial orbital rockets.

      Besides which, Musk's fortune can only do so much. Especially since it seems he just threw away a not inconsiderable portion on the Twitter debacle. And there's not really anyone else with money that's vocally interested in Mars colonization in the near future.

      There's lots of demand for the moon though. From NASA and the other space agencies involved in Artemis, to China, to the many private companies looking to get in on the ground floor of in-situ resource utilization. Artemis is really just establishing a foothold - the moon is the stepping stone to the rest of the solar system: an "asteroid" 33x more massive than the entire asteroid belt combined, conveniently located just a few days away. It may not have the "easily" accessible rare metals we expect from smaller asteroids, but the lunar regolith is over 20% iron and aluminum, and 40% oxygen, and Sadoway's electrolytic magma refinery can already extract those with a minimum of moving parts. Setting the stage to develop collection, processing, and industrial infrastructure to the point that it can be deployed to the asteroid belt.

  • (Score: 2) by Rosco P. Coltrane on Tuesday November 22, @03:07PM

    by Rosco P. Coltrane (4757) on Tuesday November 22, @03:07PM (#1281036)

    before the end of the decade

    No no no... Any promised or predicted lunar mission should happen "before this decade is out". It's a tradition since 1961.

  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by bradley13 on Tuesday November 22, @03:09PM (4 children)

    by bradley13 (3053) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday November 22, @03:09PM (#1281038) Homepage Journal

    This is the agency that things that the SLS is actually a useful rocket, even though it takes years to produce one. Starship may (maybe) be the solution, but it hasn't actually flown yet. And yet, they want to talk about a permanent habitat in 8 years. Riiiight.

    I am actually a space enthusiast. However, I am seriously pissed at NASA for wasting literal decades throwing money at "old space". Yes, I know it's the fault of Congress, only - that isn't entirely true. NASA could have changed the specs of what they want from old space. They could have demanded something like Falcon, and something like Starship. They didn't, because of "Pournelle's Iron Law". We should have had a permanent moon habitat at the turn of the century. Currently, we'll be lucky to have one before 2035 at the earliest, and it may be China that builds it.

    I'd love to be pleasantly surprised...

    --
    Everyone is somebody else's weirdo.
    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, @03:28PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, @03:28PM (#1281045)

      They will be lucky to have boots on the Moon by 2028. No long-term habitat.

    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, @05:09PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, @05:09PM (#1281076)

      It's like the palaces of old. You need an entire country of slave workers to maintain a few Royal palaces. We'd literally have to get everyone "hardcore" focused on L Ron's mission so he and a few buddies could yuck it up on the moon, until it all disintegrated.

      Look at what happened in Britain in the early 20th Century when people started to get the vote and put some mild limits on extravagances by way of taxation. Poof! All those country houses became instantly unaffordable and got donated to the State.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, @05:15PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, @05:15PM (#1281078)

      If you didn't catch it, the roll-up to the Artemis launch was hours of hype for Boeing and what NASA thinks
      they are going to do building a permanent base at the lunar south pole.
      During that whole thing, there was almost no mention of SpaceX

    • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Tuesday November 22, @06:02PM

      by Immerman (3985) on Tuesday November 22, @06:02PM (#1281103)

      Nope. This is the agency required by law to commission and use the SLS because of an uncancelable pork program. I believe they even lost a director because (according to the rumor mill) he was too vocal of an opponent. I don't believe the SLS has yet been scheduled for a single mission beyond those spelled out by Congress.

      Going forward it doesn't look like SLS has a future beyond being a backup in case of delays, and transporting astronauts from Earth to lunar orbit and back until there's another crew-rated option.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by janrinok on Tuesday November 22, @03:28PM (28 children)

    by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday November 22, @03:28PM (#1281046) Journal

    What will be the attraction of going the the Moon in the foreseeable future? Will it be a more comfortable life there? Will we escape the 'harsh' environment of Earth? Will there be more job opportunities, better healthcare, the chance to build a comfortable home, better education? Will there be a better work/life balance with significant social activities, culture, places to visit?

    Or is it simply so that one could say 'I have been to the Moon'? Most people haven't even seen 1% of earth yet. It is not some trivial bus journey that we are talking about, where you can return almost immediately if you don't like it.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by bradley13 on Tuesday November 22, @03:39PM (6 children)

      by bradley13 (3053) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday November 22, @03:39PM (#1281049) Homepage Journal

      Long term, humanity can and should expand. Earth is great, but why not live on other rocks in the solar system? If people can live in shoe-box apartments, they can live in space habitats just as (un-)comfortably

      --
      Everyone is somebody else's weirdo.
      • (Score: 2) by janrinok on Tuesday November 22, @03:45PM (4 children)

        by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday November 22, @03:45PM (#1281052) Journal

        I'll be all for it when those places are ready for us. You can live there, but can your family get food, be educated, get the medical treatment that they need? All by the end of the decade. It's been 50 years since we first went there. We have planted a flag. Perhaps we should all spend our free time dancing round it?

        • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, @04:00PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, @04:00PM (#1281055)

          The youth are becoming increasingly isolated, not marrying, not having kids. Just train incels to become geologists and miners, and send they asses to the Moon. They will eat cheap bug paste and get entertainment and education online with 1.4 second latency. For health care they can get a telemedicine checkup over Zoom or pay for the 3 day trip back to Earth.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, @08:20PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, @08:20PM (#1281139)

          It's a long way from this now, but as I get older I would appreciate lower gravity. More time for slower reflexes, less strain on old joints. And by the time people can retire to the Moon I expect we will have a pill that triggers the same effect as impact and gravity on bone density, so that shouldn't be a problem.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 23, @06:56AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 23, @06:56AM (#1281228)
          Many years ago when it first became possible to pay for a trip to the ISS, I proposed that there should be a reality TV show: "Vote Them Off The Planet" with various options like 1 way, return trip and destinations like the ISS(or Moon in this case.

          And various candidates like: Biden, Trump, Hillary Clinton, Elon Musk, Johnny Depp, Amber Heard, Kim Kardashian, etc.

          They need to get enough votes and if they win the 1 way they have the option of paying for their return trip, then they can go (assuming they are fit enough)...

          Otherwise all voters get is potentially just a funny call/interview... "Hi X, you've just been voted off the planet in the 1 way category; what is your response to that?"
        • (Score: 2) by Joe Desertrat on Friday November 25, @01:46AM

          by Joe Desertrat (2454) on Friday November 25, @01:46AM (#1281532)

          I'll be all for it when those places are ready for us. You can live there, but ...

          ... will it have high speed internet? People will be living in isolation, with little in the way of activities available that are not related to work. In a 1/6 G environment everyone, no matter the stress and fatigue they endure, will be able to erm, stand at attention. A diversion will be needed that likely, for most people on the moon, only the internet might be capable of providing.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, @05:21PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, @05:21PM (#1281081)

        Face it, it's a vanity project.

        We're all still soaking in the narcissism of Kings and emperors, like Putin's ridiculous nostalgia for an era of greatness that never really existed. We, as a species, are like the delusional caterpillar with a parasitic fungus, that climbs to the top of a blade of grass - attracted by the moonlight - and releases pheromones that attract bugs to try to mate with it... in order to spread the fungus spores. The solution is not to climb a higher blade of grass, but to smoke it ;) Or see it for what it is and step out of the delusion. Gonna take a while.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, @03:40PM (4 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, @03:40PM (#1281051)

      Resources?

      People go to all sorts of inhospitable places in the hopes of becoming rich. Nobody went to Alaska (for example) because of the weather.

      • (Score: 2) by janrinok on Tuesday November 22, @03:48PM (3 children)

        by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday November 22, @03:48PM (#1281053) Journal

        I agree with somebody going there - the question was "if asked (or given the opportunity) would you go?" Why would I go? Do you want me to take a spade and start my own mine?

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, @07:31PM (2 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, @07:31PM (#1281125)

          Are you not sufficiently motivated by being called "hardcore" by a cocaine sniffing douchebag?

          • (Score: 2) by janrinok on Tuesday November 22, @08:00PM (1 child)

            by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday November 22, @08:00PM (#1281132) Journal
            Perhaps surprisingly - I am not...
            • (Score: 2) by deimtee on Tuesday November 22, @08:22PM

              by deimtee (3272) on Tuesday November 22, @08:22PM (#1281140) Journal

              You Hardcore.

              --
              No problem is insoluble, but at Ksp = 2.943×10−25 Mercury Sulphide comes close.
    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by theluggage on Tuesday November 22, @04:49PM (7 children)

      by theluggage (1797) on Tuesday November 22, @04:49PM (#1281069)

      What will be the attraction of going the the Moon in the foreseeable future?

      Initially, ask the people currently living on Antarctica. Slightly longer term, if there really are resources worth extracting that can't be done by robots, ask people currently living for months on oil platforms in the middle of the ocean.

      I think we're a long, long way from displacing significant portions of the population to colonies in the solar system in search of a nicer place to live - there's plenty of space on Earth to build sustainable habitats in the deserts or floating on the oceans more easily than in space if we can get the energy and resources.

      We just need to keep Bruce Willis and his dirty vest on standby to deal with any inconveniently large comets (we ought to be able to work out better ways of doing that - and we're less vulnerable to comets, solar flares etc. here than on Mars or the Moon). Anything short of total wipe out still leaves it easier to survive on Earth than on a rock - and we're a very long way from off-planet colonies that can survive log-term without periodic goodie bags from Earth.

       

      • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Tuesday November 22, @05:19PM

        by Thexalon (636) on Tuesday November 22, @05:19PM (#1281080)

        We just need to keep Bruce Willis and his dirty vest on standby to deal with any inconveniently large comets (we ought to be able to work out better ways of doing that

        NASA is already working on that problem [nasa.gov].

        --
        The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
      • (Score: 2) by NotSanguine on Tuesday November 22, @05:32PM (5 children)

        I think we're a long, long way from displacing significant portions of the population to colonies in the solar system in search of a nicer place to live - there's plenty of space on Earth to build sustainable habitats in the deserts or floating on the oceans more easily than in space if we can get the energy and resources.

        I sure hope so, as we will never be "displacing significant portions of the population to colonies in the solar system".

        All you have to do is look at birth rates [macrotrends.net] and you'll realize that we'd need several times the global resources (energy, materials, etc.) available just to send enough people into space to keep the population constant.

        As such, while I think colonizing space is a wonderful idea that should be pursued vigorously, we will still need to support a large population here on Earth pretty much forever. Well, at least for the next billion and a half years or so, at which point the earth will be uninhabitable [daytondailynews.com].

        --
        No, no, you're not thinking; you're just being logical. --Niels Bohr
        • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Immerman on Tuesday November 22, @06:08PM (1 child)

          by Immerman (3985) on Tuesday November 22, @06:08PM (#1281107)

          Not displacing, certainly - but eventually it's very possible that most humans will be born somewhere other than Earth in the first place. There is after all vastly more space and resources elsewhere. And the more industrial load we can move off Earth (and the more we can turn the eyes of the profiteers towards space), the easier it will be to preserve the only natural oasis of life we know of.

          • (Score: 2) by NotSanguine on Tuesday November 22, @07:33PM

            Not displacing, certainly - but eventually it's very possible that most humans will be born somewhere other than Earth in the first place. There is after all vastly more space and resources elsewhere. And the more industrial load we can move off Earth (and the more we can turn the eyes of the profiteers towards space), the easier it will be to preserve the only natural oasis of life we know of.

            Absolutely. Assuming technology to keep people alive for the long term in non-Earth environments is feasible at some point in the future -- and is reproducible without significant resources (energy, water, metals, etc.) from Earth, I'd expect the human population off Earth would exceed the population on Earth within a few centuries or so as we build new habitats and fill them up with people.

            I fully agree about the necessity of using the Earth's resources wisely, which is why I pointed out that we're never going to move a significant fraction of the population of Earth off-planet. Especially since, if we don't husband our resources and environment carefully, we won't be around to die when the oceans evaporate in a billion years or so.

            The billions who will still be on Earth in this hypothetical future will still need to exploit the Earth's resources, just as we'd need to do so elsewhere with local resources. But it seems likely that the technologies which enable living off-Earth will aid us in being less destructive when so doing.

            --
            No, no, you're not thinking; you're just being logical. --Niels Bohr
        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday November 23, @02:45PM (2 children)

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday November 23, @02:45PM (#1281277) Journal
          I see these lines in your link:

          The current birth rate for World in 2022 is 17.668 births per 1000 people, a 1.15% decline from 2021.
          The birth rate for World in 2021 was 17.873 births per 1000 people, a 1.13% decline from 2020.
          The birth rate for World in 2020 was 18.077 births per 1000 people, a 1.12% decline from 2019.
          The birth rate for World in 2019 was 18.282 births per 1000 people, a 1.1% decline from 2018.

          The world is still on track to see negative population growth by 2100 or so. But it's just not that many people in the first place. For example, there are a number of major airports which move more people than the increase in population. I think we can achieve that rate of emmigration.

          • (Score: 2) by NotSanguine on Saturday November 26, @09:35PM (1 child)

            The world is still on track to see negative population growth by 2100 or so. But it's just not that many people in the first place. For example, there are a number of major airports which move more people than the increase in population. I think we can achieve that rate of emmigration.

            And where, exactly would we launch these people from? And once they're in space, do we just throw them out of an airlock and say "you're on your own!" or will we need to provide food, water, metal, plastics, etc. for the vessels that take them to their eventual destination, wherever that might be -- and would that destination be wholly self-sufficient? How would/could that work?

            Even if we could answer those questions, how many people/how much of Earth's resources would be required to launch enough people just to maintain the population?

            Right now the population is ~8 billion and there are ~17 births/1000. That's 136,000,000 births per year. At current levels, that would require launching ~370,000 people into space (and once there, where would they go?) every day to maintain the current population.

            But even if we agree to kill 2,000,000,000 people and reduce the birth rate to 5/1000, that's still 30,000,000 people per year, so we'd need to launch ~80,000 people per day just to keep the population stable.

            The amount of resources required for this likely (as I mentioned) exceeds several times the total economic/resource output of the planet.

            So no. We'll never export any significant portion of Earth's population off-planet -- even if (unlikely) you could convince that many people to go. Shall we force them onto rockets/space elevator/whatever at gunpoint?

            I'm not saying we shouldn't colonize space. In fact, we absolutely should, and as soon as possible too. But space colonization won't address population issues here on Earth.

            --
            No, no, you're not thinking; you're just being logical. --Niels Bohr
            • (Score: 1) by khallow on Sunday November 27, @02:49AM

              by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Sunday November 27, @02:49AM (#1281862) Journal

              And where, exactly would we launch these people from? And once they're in space, do we just throw them out of an airlock and say "you're on your own!" or will we need to provide food, water, metal, plastics, etc. for the vessels that take them to their eventual destination, wherever that might be -- and would that destination be wholly self-sufficient? How would/could that work?

              Anywhere within 45 degrees of the equator. That's most of the Earth. And food, water, metal, etc are just mass. We've figured out how to launch mass.

              Even if we could answer those questions, how many people/how much of Earth's resources would be required to launch enough people just to maintain the population?

              Not much. Earth has a lot of resources and there aren't that many people even if we launched all 8 billion every year. And launching enough people "just to maintain the population" becomes trivial when there's negative population growth.

              Right now the population is ~8 billion and there are ~17 births/1000. That's 136,000,000 births per year. At current levels, that would require launching ~370,000 people into space (and once there, where would they go?) every day to maintain the current population.

              And a large number of deaths too (~8/1000). So we're now down to ~70,000,000 people a year - airport scale as I already noted.

              But even if we agree to kill 2,000,000,000 people

              This wouldn't be a helpless too many people diatribe without some murder/death/kill. It's unnecessary. We can just launch more people, if the rate of putting people in space is too low.

              I'm not saying we shouldn't colonize space. In fact, we absolutely should, and as soon as possible too. But space colonization won't address population issues here on Earth.

              Except, of course, if it does. We'll just have to see what sort of infrastructure actually gets created.

    • (Score: 1, Offtopic) by DannyB on Tuesday November 22, @05:04PM (2 children)

      by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday November 22, @05:04PM (#1281073) Journal

      What will be the attraction of going the the Moon in the foreseeable future?

      So we can plant flags and steak our claim with wooden steaks in the ground instead of just footprints. Before the Chinese do. Follow the water. And wells. A well. Plant well done stakes around the water.

      Then of course, we have to be able to defend our claims and God given lunar rights and protect the steak holders' claim. And American icons like McDonalds. Not the taco trucks that Trump promised we would get if Hillary won.

      --
      I get constant rejection even though the compiler is supposed to accept constants.
      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday November 23, @02:46PM (1 child)

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday November 23, @02:46PM (#1281278) Journal
        I hope at least that we use vat-grown steaks to steak.
        • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Wednesday November 23, @06:10PM

          by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday November 23, @06:10PM (#1281303) Journal

          Only if the vat-grown steaks are free range.

          --
          I get constant rejection even though the compiler is supposed to accept constants.
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Immerman on Tuesday November 22, @06:26PM (3 children)

      by Immerman (3985) on Tuesday November 22, @06:26PM (#1281115)

      >What will be the attraction of going the the Moon in the foreseeable future?
      - Pure research - the moon is a vast treasure trove of knowledge about the early solar system and Earth's development
      - Applied research - it's an excellent nearby testbed for the technologies that will be needed to profitably extract rare and valuable materials from the asteroid belt.
      - Industrial infrastructure to support further development in space - Lunar regolith is over 40% oxygen by mass (a.k.a. rocket fuel - 80% of Starship's propellant mass is O2), and another 20% easily extractable aluminum and iron (the "by catch" from extracting the easiest oxygen)

      Consider that right now everything used in space has to be launched by rocket from Earth at enormous expense. Even if Starship lives up to the loftiest long-term goals for it, it will still be orders of magnitude more expensive than shipping stuff around Earth.

      From the moon though - a full-scale Spinlaunch system could launch Lunar supplies into Earth orbit (say, the L4 and L5 points?) for less than 1kWh/kg of electricity, plus inefficiencies. That's orders of magnitude cheaper than you can ship supplies around on Earth. And a somewhat more powerful system could launch supplies around the solar system - Venus and Mars wouldn't even need all that much more oomph than to reach Earth orbit. And a linear accelerator could even launch passengers between planets without needing rockets until they arrived, though that's a much larger project than a Spinlaunch facility.

      That's the sort of thing that makes it possible to build cheap space hotels and cyclers insulated from radiation and micro-meteors by a meter or three of concrete.

      • (Score: 2) by janrinok on Tuesday November 22, @06:54PM (2 children)

        by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday November 22, @06:54PM (#1281118) Journal

        I am 70 years old. When it is ready for people - not just astronauts, not just explorers, not just scientists, - then ask me again, But it will not be in this decade or, I'll wager, the one after that either.

        I support all the exploration that we are doing - but that is not the question that was posed. Would I go? No, why the hell would I. Should all the others go - of course, it is the only way forward. But, would I go - no, not now.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, @07:34PM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, @07:34PM (#1281127)

          > it is the only way forward

          BZZZT. Bullshit. If you can't think of ONE other delusional sci fi fantasy, I pity your decrepit imagination.

          • (Score: 2) by janrinok on Thursday November 24, @07:47AM

            by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Thursday November 24, @07:47AM (#1281424) Journal

            I can think of many - they are just irrelevant to an intelligent conversation at this point.

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by Gaaark on Tuesday November 22, @10:02PM

      by Gaaark (41) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday November 22, @10:02PM (#1281160) Journal

      Welp, sign ME up, but only if I can stay.
      I want to go and be there and troubleshoot and advise and yes, probably die.

      Go for a vacation, sure, but I like visiting/staying places rather than doing the tourist thing of see quickly and leave.

      You can put me on the Enterprise ANYTIME, though!

      --
      --- Please remind me if I haven't been civil to you: I'm channeling MDC. ---Gaaark 2.0 ---
  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by oumuamua on Tuesday November 22, @04:37PM (2 children)

    by oumuamua (8401) on Tuesday November 22, @04:37PM (#1281065)

    NASA does not plead with you to please help them out. They select applicants competitively because a LOT of people want to go. You would be very lucky to get selected, a 1 in a 1000 chance.

    https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-selects-new-astronaut-recruits-to-train-for-future-missions [nasa.gov]

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by DannyB on Tuesday November 22, @05:07PM (1 child)

      by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday November 22, @05:07PM (#1281075) Journal

      SpaceX has promised lunar orbital rides to billionaire investors. They select riders competitively because a LOT of people have billions of dollars to invest.

      --
      I get constant rejection even though the compiler is supposed to accept constants.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, @07:37PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, @07:37PM (#1281129)

        Because of the science, right? Because of the burning desire for truth at any cost, right? The gold, the trinkets, the women, the fawning beta males, the yachts, they all mean nothing. Only the truuuuuuuth!

  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, @05:16PM (5 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, @05:16PM (#1281079)
    Is this just some NASA bullshit to get funding and they're not actually interested in doing real science?

    Where's the real science showing that moon gravity is enough for humans? Or is that what the humans are going to be doing e.g. they're going to be the guinea pigs?

    Even then, I thought it would be better and cheaper to do those sort of long term "gravity" experiments on a space station first than on the moon and also because you could do controls e.g. one batch of mice on 1G, another on Mars G, another on Moon G and another on zero G. And then later they try to find the minimum G that "healthy young humans" can cope with long term. This minimum G for humans figure would be useful for space colonies for quite a while (till humans evolve or medical tech gets good enough?). Presumably it would be significantly lower than 1G and thus cheaper space stations/structures can be made for mining outposts etc.
    • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Tuesday November 22, @06:55PM (4 children)

      by Immerman (3985) on Tuesday November 22, @06:55PM (#1281119)

      >Where's the real science showing that moon gravity is enough for humans?

      That's one of the things we're going to the moon to discover. We know we want the Moon's resources, and we already know humans can handle even micro-g for at least a while. Worst case scenario we have to rotate crews more often than we'd like. If we were talking Mars colonization, where just the trip would cause permanent health problems, then yeah, I'd want some idea of whether I could handle the gravity long-term before signing on. Best case we discover the moon mostly solves the micro-g problems, opening the door to Mars.

      At the end of the day there *must* be human "guinea pigs" to get data about the impact on human health - the results of mouse studies rarely actually translate to humans, they're good mostly for avoiding the most catastrophically bad outcomes. We could theoretically build rotating space stations at enormous expense to run the tests in - but the health problems will be the same either way, and on the Moon they at least those health problems are earned contributing to the conquest of space, rather than just being a guinea pig sitting uselessly in a rotating space station where you can't even do microgravity research. To say nothing of the fact that all that money is spent developing valuable lunar infrastructure rather than a laboratory to learn things we can't avoid learning by doing anyway.

      As for asteroid mining and deep-space voyages - those can all operate at 1g easily enough, which is probably the smartest approach to avoid muscle and bone loss if you're planing to eventually return to Earth. Once you've built a spinning habitat you can spin it at whatever speed you want - the centripetal support structure is a tiny portion of the overall cost, easily scaled to your desired "gravity". Containing atmospheric pressure is a much more challenging. The big problem for partial gravity is other planets, where rotating habitats present a lot more challenges.

      • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 23, @06:03AM (3 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 23, @06:03AM (#1281220)

        We could theoretically build rotating space stations at enormous expense

        You don't need to rotate the entire space station AND the space station doesn't have to be that big in volume. Could use tethers and counterweights - think bucket on a string. That way you can adjust the "gravity" for the experiments scientists want to do.

        uselessly in a rotating space station where you can't even do microgravity research.

        False. You can have different "gravity" levels depending on how far the test chambers/living quarters are from the center of rotation. Mars, Moon, 0g, 0.5g, 0.75g, etc.

        In contrast for similar expense you can't do such stuff on the Moon - you're stuck with just adding one data point in the chart. And that data point might turn out to be "nope, not high enough". In which case you've spent a lot of money and still don't know what the minimum g is for humans AND you can't crank the value up.

        You can do studies for mice first then scale up for humans and some of our favorite livestock. For example, it may turn out that broiler chickens might put on weight even faster in lower gravity[1] which might be useful especially if you're going to slaughter them for food anyway and don't care that they won't do as well in their middle/old age periods. These sort of things can be useful if you're going to be building long term habitats for human "civilians" and their farms.

        In contrast most of the planets in our solar system aren't that useful for long term living - all that land is at the wrong pressure, it costs about the same to pressurize farmlands, habitats as it does to pressurize space station farms and habitats, plus you don't have the flexibility of having the solar cycle AND gravity you want.

        deep-space voyages - those can all operate at 1g easily enough, which is probably the smartest approach

        Once you have more data points on the "acceptable gravity" chart, you could safely operate on other values of g than 1 (e.g. from 0.5 to 1.5) AND it would be based on science. Not wishful thinking.

        The flexibility to operate at other values of g for long term would also allow more options for "flight paths". .

        [1] https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Growth-rate-of-the-chicken-BW-is-not-in-synchronized-with-the-growth-of-bones-and-blood_fig1_323427116 [researchgate.net]

        • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Wednesday November 23, @10:53AM (2 children)

          by Immerman (3985) on Wednesday November 23, @10:53AM (#1281255)

          From what I understand there's actually some pretty serious stability issues with the simple tether idea in microgravity, though I don't recall the details. But yeah, you don't need a huge "wheel" - you do however need a huge "tether" (scaffold?) if you don't want Coriolis effects to cause serious problems, you can't spin much faster than I think 2rpm (4?) before causing severe ongoing nausea and potentially other health effects. Really, we know even less about the health dangers of living in rotating habitats than we do about micro-gravity. Reproduction in particular may face serious difficulties.

          Regardless, you're overlooking the important part:

          We need the moon's resources if we're going to conquer space. There's just no other realistic way to make it work.

          It's 33x more massive than the entire asteroid belt combined, and most of it (at least on the surface) is oxygen (40%), iron, and aluminum (about 20% combined, with varying ratios). Not to mention just concrete/cast stone as radiation shielding, and about 20% silicon once we're ready to start making solar panels. All conveniently nearby, in a relatively shallow gravity well from which resources can be launched directly into Earth orbit without *any* hideously inefficient rockets, for less than 1kWh/kg. And to Mars or Venus with only another 30% launch speed, or all the way out to Ceres with 80% more. Probably using Spinlaunchers at first, and eventually linear accelerators that passengers can survive.

          It doesn't matter how good or bad long term lunar exposure is, we're either going to make it work, or we'll never expand beyond Earth.

          And, in the process of making it work, we'll discover exactly how bad such low gravity is for us, scientifically. We do have reason to be hopeful it'll at least be a lot better than micro gravity - you'll get more exercise "automatically", and skeletal impacts from walking seem to pay an important role in bone health. Plus, much less radiation (assuming your habitat is buried in cheap local regolith), and radiation is always a confounding issue in space - hard to tell what problems are caused by the constant high-energy radiation bath versus the low gravity.

          If we can't handle long term exposure to lunar gravity we'll rotate crews more frequently, and a whole lot of work can probably be done remotely from Earth - 2.6 seconds of lag is probably not too big a problem for managing a fleet of semi-autonomous mining and exploration drones - not if you also have troubleshooters on site to fix problems when they arise. Low lag to Earth is another big benefit of the moon, in fact we'll probably do that anyway - a rover minder is a lot cheaper working from Earth than on the Moon.

          And since the moon *must* happen for all the rest to have a chance, the resources spent establishing a foothold there will not be wasted, regardless of the health impacts.

          Now, if lunar gravity is a serious health problem that does indeed bode poorly for settling other planets, and maybe we stick to building rotating habitats in micro-g for for actual colonization. (You can do rotating habitats on a planet - but it's a much bigger challenge that's probably not worth it). We'll still put people on Mars, etc. for (non-health-related) research purposes, but both the strategies and crew are likely to be very different if we're trying to minimize health impacts from a temporary posting, rather than planning to raise families there.

          On the other hand, if by some miracle lunar gravity is enough to mostly eliminate health problems (other than the muscle loss), then that throws open the doors to at least Mars \ with no further testing needed, and sets an impressively low maximum lower bound for rotating habitat "gravity" that can then be explored at our leisure.

          Once you have more data points on the "acceptable gravity" chart, you could safely operate on other values of g than 1 (e.g. from 0.5 to 1.5) AND it would be based on science. Not wishful thinking.

          Not much wishful thinking in recognizing that, even if there are no inherent health problems to living permanently at 0.5 g, doing so for any length of time will still make you far too weak to return to Earth without extensive physical therapy. So, until we start building permanent spinning colonies for people who have no intention of ever returning to Earth (probably WAY in the future), we're probably going to want to maintain something near 1g. And there's not much point in overdoing it - it just makes keeping the floor from exploding out from under you that much more difficult and expensive.

          That also brings up the one big advantage planets have over spinning habitats (other than having a sky to appreciate) - on a planet/moon you can let gravity do the work of containing your atmosphere. Build your habitats underground, weighted down by enough sand and rock to contain the 10 tons/m^2 of atmospheric pressure, so that they only need to keep from being crushed under the load (actually a tiny fraction of it, since the atmosphere itself will support most of it)), rather than trying to keep themselves from being torn apart by the outward pressure. Compressive construction tends to last *far* longer than tensile, and like I said, a well-balanced habitat will have almost no load at all. And with the structural load taken care of, all you need to do is keep your atmosphere from leaking through the walls - which could even be done with a coat of airtight paint in a pinch. (Not that you'd *want* that - except maybe as part of a last line of defense in case your more substantial lining was breached

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 24, @04:14AM (1 child)

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 24, @04:14AM (#1281389)

            there's actually some pretty serious stability issues with the simple tether idea

            There are other ideas than simple tether ideas.

            Regardless, you're overlooking the important part:

            We need the moon's resources if we're going to conquer space. There's just no other realistic way to make it work.

            I'm not overlooking anything. The order humans are doing stuff is wrong. Should do what I suggest first, then the asteroids, Moon, etc can come later.

            We have limited resources here on Earth too. If we waste them (e.g. on expensive trips to Mars) before we become a proper space faring species then things will become more difficult.

            Building what I suggest is within our capabilities and would provide the more "space science and tech" for the buck at our current tech level than building the Moon bases.

            So, until we start building permanent spinning colonies for people who have no intention of ever returning to Earth (probably WAY in the future), we're probably going to want to maintain something near 1g

            In which case spinning colonies have a huge advantage over the Moon and the other planets in the solar system. With our current tech level we can't easily maintain 1g on the Moon or the other planets. So based on your own arguments the Moon and planet stuff are unsuitable for long term habitation. Maybe short term moon miners on shifts but the main habitat is in orbit?

            That also brings up the one big advantage planets have over spinning habitats (other than having a sky to appreciate) - on a planet/moon you can let gravity do the work of containing your atmosphere. Build your habitats underground, weighted down by enough sand and rock to contain the 10 tons/m^2 of atmospheric pressure,

            Engineers could also use the atmospheric pressure to inflate structures in space. Like soda cans made more rigid by pressurized gas. So I'm not seeing the "big advantage" there.

            I can see the advantages of underground bunkers. But large scale habitats and farms underground? Don't see much benefit to all that land when you still essentially need to spend a lot to build a "space station" around all of it.

            The advantage of planets could be radiation shielding. But you could use water and propellants as part of radiation shields and you need lots of water anyway.

            • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Thursday November 24, @02:39PM

              by Immerman (3985) on Thursday November 24, @02:39PM (#1281482)

              Answer me this: If we know we're going to the moon anyway, why should we delay until we know ahead of time what the health risks are? They don't matter, we're doing it anyway, and there's not actually much we can do to mitigate the risks anyway.

              Going to the asteroids is great - but we don't have the technology to actually mine them yet, so developing that technology on a nearby "asteroid" makes sense. Especially since sending humans to the asteroid belt (or even a "near" Earth asteroid) is likely to be a death sentence with existing technology - you're talking over a year round trip without significant radiation shielding, plus however long it takes you to assemble a shielded space station once you get there. Tackling the asteroids before we have the technology to either fully automate

              Without automated mining and industry, and/or the ability to heavily shield the ship for human troubleshooters (a.k.a. mine the moon for radiation shielding and/or use nuclear rockets), aiming for the asteroid belt is almost certain to be a waste.

              Spinning colonies are great too - but those are probably at *least* 50-100 years away - we need high productivity mining and industry in space before we can even seriously consider building them.

              Engineers could also use the atmospheric pressure to inflate structures in space.

              They absolutley could - but those structures are going to have to be able to withstand 10 tons/m2 of stress, which puts a huge continuous load on them and severely limits maximum size (maybe 5 tons if operated at 1/2 atmosphere). Most importantly, it means you're in a continuous life-threatening battle against entropy. And entropy *always* wins in the end. On a planet you can neutralize the outward pressure with inward pressure supplied by gravity, meaning that your structure is normally under approximately zero load. And no load means a MUCH longer lifespan.

  • (Score: 2) by NotSanguine on Tuesday November 22, @05:37PM

    Big question then is -- if asked (or given the opportunity) would you go?

    Absolutely! As I explained here [soylentnews.org].

    --
    No, no, you're not thinking; you're just being logical. --Niels Bohr
  • (Score: 2) by progo on Tuesday November 22, @07:00PM

    by progo (6356) on Tuesday November 22, @07:00PM (#1281120) Homepage

    but you are probably still borked if something goes wrong.

    Well, it depends on how wrong that thing has gone. There's a big difference from a robotic rescue mission scrambled from LEO or the surface of Earth and arriving in 3 to 6 days, compared to waiting for such a rescue from the Mars surface.

    We need to build up experience on our moon's surface before sending people to build an outpost on Mars.

  • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Tuesday November 22, @07:01PM (1 child)

    by Immerman (3985) on Tuesday November 22, @07:01PM (#1281121)

    >At least the moon is closer then Mars, but you are probably still borked if something goes wrong.

    Why would you be borked? As soon as there's both a lunar outpost and a large rocket on standby for return to Earth, the bork-potential drops radically. Even if one of them explodes, as long as you're not nearby when it happens you just take shelter in the other until you either leave or help arrives. One of the benefits of being only days away is that you don't even need any food or water reserves. So long as you have air you can survive on nothing but recycled urine for a surprisingly long time. Not the most pleasant option, but it beats dying.
     

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, @07:40PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, @07:40PM (#1281130)

      Just after you send the rocket ship with the dude with a broken leg.... you break your own leg. Now you're borked.

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