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posted by CoolHand on Saturday March 19 2016, @08:43PM   Printer-friendly
from the walking-on-the-moon dept.

A NASA scientist suggests that building a base on the moon would be feasible within a $10 billion budget, in a special issue of New Space focusing on the feasibility of lunar colonization:

What if I told you there's no reason we couldn't set up a small base on the moon by 2022 without breaking the bank? The endeavor would cost about $10 billion, which is cheaper than one U.S. aircraft carrier. Some of the greatest scientists and professionals in the space business already have a plan. NASA's Chris McKay, an astrobiologist, wrote about it in a special issue of the New Space journal, published just a few weeks ago.

Before we get into the details, let's ask ourselves: Why the moon? Although scientists (and NASA) don't find it all that exciting, the moon is a great starting point for further exploration. Furthermore, building a lunar base would provide us with the real-world experience that may prove invaluable for future projects on other planets like Mars, which NASA plans to reach by 2030. The main reason the moon is not a part of NASA's plan is simply because of the agency's crimped budget.

NASA's leaders say they can afford only one or the other: the moon or Mars. If McKay and his colleagues are correct, though, the U.S. government might be able to pull off both trips. All it takes is a change of perspective and ingenuity. "The big takeaway," McKay says, "is that new technologies, some of which have nothing to do with space — such as self-driving cars and waste-recycling toilets — are going to be incredibly useful in space, and are driving down the cost of a moon base to the point where it might be easy to do." The document outlines a series of innovations — already existing and in development — that work together toward the common goal of building the first permanent lunar base.


Here are the articles in question, all of which are open access:

What Do We Do with the Moon? (open, DOI: 10.1089/space.2015.29003.gsh)

Toward a Low-Cost Lunar Settlement: Preface to the New Space Special Articles (open, DOI: 10.1089/space.2015.0039)

A Summary of the Economic Assessment and Systems Analysis of an Evolvable Lunar Architecture That Leverages Commercial Space Capabilities and Public–Private Partnerships (open, DOI: 10.1089/space.2015.0037)

Lunar Station: The Next Logical Step in Space Development
(open, DOI: 10.1089/space.2015.0031)

U.S. Government Funding of Major Space Goals: A Historical Perspective (open, DOI: 10.1089/space.2015.0036)

Site Selection for Lunar Industrialization, Economic Development, and Settlement (open, DOI: 10.1089/space.2015.0023)

Life Support for a Low-Cost Lunar Settlement: No Showstoppers (open, DOI: 10.1089/space.2015.0029)

Using the Agile Approach for Lunar Settlement (open, DOI: 10.1089/space.2015.0038)

Lunar-Based Self-Replicating Solar Factory (open, DOI: 10.1089/space.2015.0041)

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  • (Score: 2) by tangomargarine on Sunday March 20 2016, @11:24PM

    by tangomargarine (667) on Sunday March 20 2016, @11:24PM (#320908)

    Now, most of these benefits are due to the operational environment for the aircraft carrier. If the "Moon" base were built on Earth it would be a fairer comparison.

    I can't tell whether you're hugely missing the point, or I am. How would building an aircraft carrier instead have anything to do with space whatsoever?

    The U.S. spends such a ludicrous amount on its military already, it sure as hell should not scrap the space program to spend even MORE on the military.

    quicker, comparatively inexpensive transportation for staff, supplies, and scientific specimens

    The destinations being totally different...

    the ship can be moved about

    Because when they launch a rocket into space, it just explodes on the pad? What?

    proven usefulness

    I suppose, but I would much rather my tax dollars go towards the furtherance of science than starting another pointless war.

    "Is that really true?" "I just spent the last hour telling you to think for yourself! Didn't you hear anything I said?"
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