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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 davester666 on Monday March 21 2016, @06:01AM

    by davester666 (155) on Monday March 21 2016, @06:01AM (#320998)

    It's way cheaper to just build it on the soundstage NASA used for the original moon landing. Feel free to embezzle the rest as a bonus for thinking inside the same box the last guy used.

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  • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday March 21 2016, @01:57PM

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 21 2016, @01:57PM (#321084) Journal
    If you want cost-effective activities in any sphere, you need to reduce the cost of bottlenecks. For example, most people wouldn't use cars for routine activties, if it cost $100 just to hop into the driver's seat.