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Moon The Military Science

Does the Moon Have Military Value? 332

Posted by timothy
from the only-if-it-was-a-forest-moon-or-ice-moon dept.
MarkWhittington writes "Despite the fact that under President Barack Obama's space policy, Americans will not be going back to the moon any time soon, discussions are occurring about what, if any, military value the Earth's nearest neighbor has. Opinions, as can be expected, vary on the subject."
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Does the Moon Have Military Value?

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  • by mykos (1627575) on Wednesday January 26, 2011 @02:48AM (#35005150)
    Are you reading this, The U.S. Government? The moon is of endless strategic military value! You could be the most powerful military on earth if you had the most advanced space programs.

    Divert some of that ridiculously high military funding toward space programs, as much as you can spare!
    • Funnily enough, it could very much be not just strategic but also of value as a raw source of minerals.

      It would give a military somewhere to put whatever the fuck they want:
      Dirty nukes?
      Toxic weapons?

      Not to mention the ability to do research on virus strains as weapons without any fear of the subject 'getting loose'.

      Now, throw in the fact that china are being very cagey of late about letting anyone have a share of their rare minerals and the moon becomes more use further, both for mining as well as a staging point for asteroid mining, with a much lower requirement on vehicles needing to leave its surface in regards to escape velocity.

      Give me some science reports and a few half-whacko strategists and I am sure I could write up a few hundred pages of document as to why it must be seized immediately, if only to deny 'the enemy' the chance :)

      Yeah, tons of speculation, but I have a few cups of good Earl Grey in me, there's not much else to do at this stage.

      • by symbolset (646467) * on Wednesday January 26, 2011 @03:11AM (#35005326) Journal

        You don't need nuclear weapons from the moon, nor toxic weapons either. Apparently the moon has a rich supply of these mysterious city-killing weapons called "rocks" which, when catapulted out of the moon's gravity well naturally fall into Earth's. The Earth's gravity operates on the mass of the rocks, accelerating them to great terminal energy - enough to look as much like nuclear weapons as makes little difference. Done with sufficient precision, or simply enough quantity, it should be more than enough force to get the Earth to capitulate. Scary thought: the entire moon is made up of these disastrous weapons of mass destruction, which require no fine art to deploy. I read a book about it once, a long time ago. Wish I could remember the title.

        Odd note of geek trivia: the "Toynbee Tiles" enigma is precisely about this.

        • by WScottC (44796) on Wednesday January 26, 2011 @03:16AM (#35005368)
          Rah! Rah! R.A.H
        • You'd have to lob off a pretty large chunk of the moon to do any damage to something on earth, at least on the scale you're speaking of. The atmosphere would eat a lot of what you throw at it on entry.

          • You could equip your chunks of rock with simple heat shields. Not very difficult to do.

          • by ppanon (16583)

            Yeah, you need to throw something about the size of a semi-trailer or boxcar. So what?
            a) the moon has no atmosphere so you can use a magnetic accelerator.
            b) the moon's gravity is about 1/6th of earth's, its escape velocity is less than 1/4 that of Earth's, and the energy needed to launch a given mass is about 1/22 that from Earth. So to launch that 50+ ton projectile from the moon you need about the energy it would take to throw a 2 ton pickup from Earth, without the loss of energy at launch from atmosphe

            • by Yvanhoe (564877)
              Interestingly you could even use a trebuchet to attain the lunar escape velocity. However, the power of kinetic gravitational kinetic weapons has been considered and found to be too low to be interesting. A conventional "bunker-busting" bomb is more efficient at hitting a burried target than a big chunk of moon rocks. People make the parallel with the power seen in meteors a bit too hastily. Meteors have a very high speed compared to what can be attained cheaply from a moon base.

              Also, a big chunk of rock
              • by Vinegar Joe (998110) on Wednesday January 26, 2011 @09:32AM (#35007590)

                Razing a whole town is soooooo 1945.

                But it gets your point across soooooo much better.

              • The velocity when it leaves the moon isn't important, it's the velocity when it hits the Earth that matters. It spends a good chunk of a light second accelerating due to the Earth's gravity. For about the last percent, it's being slowed by the atmosphere, but it can already have quite a lot of kinetic energy by the time it gets near the Earth.
              • by ultranova (717540)

                Interestingly you could even use a trebuchet to attain the lunar escape velocity.

                Even with the ballast being under lunar gravity as well?


            • In fact you ordinarily need much less than lunar escape if you're shooting at the Earth - you just need to get to the transition point in the trajectory where Earth's gravity becomes stronger than the moon's.

              If you shoot below the escape velocity of lunar, you wont reach that point ...

        • If they have a self-sufficient moon base, the whole "mutually assured destruction" (MAD) theory of avoiding nuclear war with the soviets go away.

          As they described it to us -- since both the commies and the US had enough nukes to kill everyone, noone would be crazy enough to launch.

          However if one country has a colony on the moon; the whole MAD equation changes. Suddenly instead of "everyone dies", the result is "hey, if everyone on earth dies; I and my 144000 other colonists on this base will own everything!!!!"

          • Maybe. [youtube.com]

            Peace [www.imao.us]?

          • by Kjella (173770)

            Just take one of the space rockets that the US, Russia, China, ESA, India +++ has and add a nuke as payload. Or hell just send it to impact on the base, should be plenty. Bye-bye moon base. Unless you're going to bring a missile shield up there too, but that will probably set of a space arms race to ensure MAD is sustained.

            • a moon based missile shield is much more feasible then an intra-planetary one.

              For one, earth/moon transit takes about 3 days with current rocket (assuming you have a rocket powerfull enough to launch a 1 ton nuke into transit orbit), which means you see the nuke comming 3 days before impact, making an intercept much easier. Also, if you intercept the nuke out far enough, it cant really do any significant evasion of a kill vehicle without messing up its own trajectory.

              Basically, it is the difference between

          • However if one country has a colony on the moon; the whole MAD equation changes. Suddenly instead of "everyone dies", the result is "hey, if everyone on earth dies; I and my 144000 other colonists on this base will own everything!!!!"

            Lets worry about that if and when world leaders start moving themselves, their upper command, and a bunch of hot women to the moon.

      • by Kjella (173770) on Wednesday January 26, 2011 @03:30AM (#35005452) Homepage

        As for rare earth minerals, they're not that rare. Even the most expensive minerals only cost about $100k/kilo, meaning a $100 million dollar expedition - not even a Mars Rover - would have to bring back a ton in 100% pure form. And that needs to cover a full excavation, processing and launch system plus operating costs of such.

        Something like gold is only $3k/kilo, so more like 300+ tons. It's doubtful you could turn a profit even if there were 24 carat gold bars lying on the moon surface waiting to be picked up. Maybe someday in the future we will become far more desperate for this, but most likely it's cheaper to exploit every vein, dig up every land fill and recycle every last gram rather than try getting it from space.

        • As of today, gold 24k is closer to $50 than $3.... and it's been on the rise for some years. There are also those rare metals that china banned export and Korea does not have. So perhaps it might get easier to justify....

          • by Kjella (173770)

            Whoops... the site I was looking at chopped the first digit so more like $43k/kilo than $3k/kilo.

        • It's doubtful you could turn a profit even if there were 24 carat gold bars lying on the moon surface waiting to be picked up.

          Just need to repurpose that military mass driver (qf. earlier comment about flinging moon rocks as weapons). Of course, catching them might be problematic.

          Parachutes would help. And come to think of it, you wouldn't even have to fold them up first.

        • by AmiMoJo (196126)

          Forget gold, Helium 3 is what you want to be mining. A H3 atmosphere allows fusion reactors to work at manageable temperatures, i.e. massive amount of power generation with little in the way of waste/pollution.

          One of the ex-Apollo astronauts is involved with a company that has been trying to get funding to mine H3. IIRC in a TV interview he said a mission would cost around $15 billion but would more than pay for itself in energy generation. It would be interesting to see some figures and compare them to nuc

      • by jamesh (87723)

        Funnily enough, it could very much be not just strategic but also of value as a raw source of minerals.

        And if some of those raw minerals were accidentally dropped on America's enemies... well that couldn't be helped could it?

      • Not to mention the ability to do research on virus strains as weapons without any fear of the subject 'getting loose'.

        Couldn't you do that for a small fraction the cost in, say, a submarine equipped with a self-destruct device? Even the ISS seems like it would be cheaper.

        And of course the cheapest of all would be to take the cheapest option and just put it in a less populated area and plan on nuking it if it gets out. If you're making a doomsday virus weapon, you might be less concerned about the serfs' lives in rural Iowa and more concerned with keeping down costs.

        • by Barny (103770)

          You just mentioned the plots for about fifty zombie/apocalypse movies that I can think of off the top of my head.

          Under the sea - spread contaminate to every ocean on earth
          Isolated area gets nuked - radiation cloud carries death + mutated virus all over the earth
          ISS - rain of virus containing capsules all over the earth

          Moon.... fuck it, its got no atmosphere to contaminate, no see to poison.

          I am thinking too much on this now, CASE CLOSED!

      • It just depends on how many enemies you have and how bad are the relations, risk levels, and situation assessment. Get things bad enough and a handful of dirt and pile of rocks become weapons indeed. Just look at prisons. Everyone is an enemy, and plastic cups can become a knife in the right hands.
    •     There's a pesky thing that the US and a few other countries (those with space programs, and those who wanted to play nice with the US, Russia, and China) have ratified named the "Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies", or simply "Space Treaty". One of the major points of it is the agreement that no one will militarize space.

          If anyone did militarize space, it would be nasty. It would either curtail all space exploration, or cause some pretty nasty wars. All the countries with space programs are very limited to what they can do right now. We can worry about nukes raining down from space, but for as much effort is involved, it could easily be eliminated at the cost of billions of dollars and a few lives. Consider if the shuttle were completely packed with any weapons. That would be a total capacity of approximately 8,400 pounds. Sure, it saves the required fuel capacity, but it's only the equivalent of a single Trident II warhead. It would still require fuel for it's deorbit burn. It's a lot cheaper and easier to have ground, sea, and air based deployment systems in place.

          If any country were to militarize space, they wouldn't have a distinct advantage, because there are too many traditional deployment systems in place that meet or exceed the capability.

          If, for example, the US did militarize space with the space shuttle, it wouldn't be long before future missions would be under threat of being shot down. Since too many countries depend on each other to make space missions work, it's not advantageous for any of them to create such a situation.

          But hey, if it'd get humanity back into serious space missions, maybe it's not a bad idea. Being that it's been decades since a human was any farther than just orbiting the Earth, it may not be all that bad. Well, until some country sets up a space based weapons platform. We have enough problems with the existing weapons systems, do we need to even consider having any more?

      • by bds1986 (1268378) on Wednesday January 26, 2011 @03:21AM (#35005396)

        If anyone did militarize space, it would be nasty. It would either curtail all space exploration, or cause some pretty nasty wars.

        It's highly unlikely militarisation of space would curtail exploration any more than militarisation of the sea curtailed exploration here on earth. As for the wars, perhaps.

        On the flip side, the military has been the driving force behind many of the great technologies humanity has developed. Aeronautics, explosives, rocketry, computing, long-distance communications, the internet, optics, nuclear power, emergency medicine, navigation, and composites, too name a few, were all either invented or rapidly matured in response to military needs. Most of these technologies then furthered peaceful means. If there's no short-term profit in developing a technology, the military is the next best bet, provided it can somehow be adapted to make killing people easier.

        • Both China and India are heading to the moon, IIRC.

        • by c0lo (1497653) on Wednesday January 26, 2011 @07:43AM (#35006842)

          Most of these technologies then furthered peaceful means. If there's no short-term profit in developing a technology, the military is the next best bet, provided it can somehow be adapted to make killing people easier.

          Happens so only for the last 70-100 years and, again, not exclusively so: nano-technologies, genetics and Large Hadron Collider were not.

          Steam engine (the reason for being out from feudalism and stepped into industrialization) was not invented for military purposes. Printed press wasn't either.

          Even if it would be so, does it mean that we should bet always on military? Even worse, perhaps creating the needs the army need to react?

        • by T-Bone-T (1048702) on Wednesday January 26, 2011 @11:39AM (#35009132)

          The difference is that sinking a ship in the ocean doesn't hurt anything but blowing up something in orbit only turns one orbiting object into many orbiting objects. Imagine the ocean being 30 feet deep. A sunken ship is a hazard to every other ship just like a destroyed satellite is a hazard to other satellites.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126)

        Space is already partially militarised. Spy, GPS and communications satellites have all been put up for military use. They are openly attacked too, e.g. by blinding a spy sat with lasers. The treaty only bans actual weapons in space, although arguably some of these things could be weaponised fairly quickly. "Oops I de-orbited my satellite right into yours, and oh noes this other one is falling towards your nuclear power station..." There is a reason China and then the US felt they needed to demonstrate thei

      • by hey! (33014)

        There's a pesky thing that the US and a few other countries have ratified named the "Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies", or simply "Space Treaty". One of the major points of it is the agreement that no one will militarize space.

        Ah, but we put a giant loophole in that treaty. Nowhere does the treaty say we can't put an Indian reservation in space. Go Manifest Destiny!

    • First they need to convince you people that there is a terrorist menace in there. Then occupy.

      But for such a menace to exist, they need people in there first. So, military occupation needs civil occupation.

      They could offer moon mansions for the people in Detroit. It's not like their place is getting any better soon... And then forge some terrorist attack on the moon, and finally send the soldiers!

      • by isorox (205688)

        First they need to convince you people that there is a terrorist menace in there. Then occupy.

        The main requirement for a terrorist threat is the presence of oil, otherwise the US would have invaded Saudi, Lybia, North Korea, Oklahoma, etc.

        Not to say that's not a good reason for the U.S. to invade and occupy a country -- the country relies on oil -- just don't get confused about "terrorism".

      • by c0lo (1497653)

        They could offer moon mansions for the people in Detroit. It's not like their place is getting any better soon...

        Better? Aren't there any unoccupied houses in Detroit? Or a mansion on the Moon is much cheaper? Perhaps is that mansion a better security against a mortgage?

    • The moon is of endless strategic military value!

      Why? What can you do from the moon that you can't do from earth or orbit? Oh yes, destroy continents. But what's that worth? Also, there is quite a travel time after starting an attack. So the strategic value of a militarized moon is that you can threaten to kill everyone. Great. We already have enough nuclear bombs to do that.

      No thank you. Keep weapons out of space. If you don't, you set a precedent for China, Russia, India, Iran, Brazil, ... Lets stick to the treaty.

    • by spiralx (97066) on Wednesday January 26, 2011 @10:28AM (#35008278)

      It amazes me that so many allegedly "educated" people have fallen so quickly and so hard for a fraudulent fabrication of such laughable proportions. The very idea that a gigantic ball of rock happens to orbit our planet, showing itself in neat, four-week cycles -- with the same side facing us all the time -- is ludicrous. Furthermore, it is an insult to common sense and a damnable affront to intellectual honesty and integrity. That people actually believe it is evidence that the liberals have wrested the last vestiges of control of our public school system from decent, God-fearing Americans (as if any further evidence was needed! Daddy's Roommate? God Almighty!)

      Documentaries such as Enemy of the State have accurately portrayed the elaborate, byzantine network of surveillance satellites that the liberals have sent into space to spy on law-abiding Americans. Equipped with technology developed by Handgun Control, Inc., these satellites have the ability to detect firearms from hundreds of kilometers up. That's right, neighbors .. the next time you're out in the backyard exercising your Second Amendment rights, the liberals will see it! These satellites are sensitive enough to tell the difference between a Colt .45 and a .38 Special! And when they detect you with a firearm, their computers cross-reference the address to figure out your name, and then an enormous database housed at Berkeley is updated with information about you.

      Of course, this all works fine during the day, but what about at night? Even the liberals can't control the rotation of the Earth to prevent nightfall from setting in (only Joshua was able to ask for that particular favor!) That's where the "moon" comes in. Powered by nuclear reactors, the "moon" is nothing more than an enormous balloon, emitting trillions of candlepower of gun-revealing light. Piloted by key members of the liberal community, the "moon" is strategically moved across the country, pointing out those who dare to make use of their God-given rights at night!

      Yes, I know this probably sounds paranoid and preposterous, but consider this. Despite what the revisionist historians tell you, there is no mention of the "moon" anywhere in literature or historical documents -- anywhere -- before 1950. That is when it was initially launched. When President Josef Kennedy, at the State of the Union address, proclaimed "We choose to go to the moon", he may as well have said "We choose to go to the weather balloon." The subsequent faking of a "moon" landing on national TV was the first step in a long history of the erosion of our constitutional rights by leftists in this country. No longer can we hide from our government when the sun goes down.

  • The moon? No. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Microlith (54737) on Wednesday January 26, 2011 @02:51AM (#35005168)

    Low Earth Orbit? Yes!

    Military wants the high ground, and in terms of Earth-focused warfare the most you need is LEO. Lunar puts you 3 days out at Apollo speeds, and at the bottom of a gravity well (even if it is significantly weaker.) LEO puts you over any potential target every 90 minutes and less than a day away from resupply.

    Until you've got strategically valuable positions in space between the Earth and Moon, the Moon itself will hold no value militarily.

    • The moon enables you to dig in. Spy satellites in LEO can be destroyed easily. OTH there is only one Moon. Perhaps the military need to capture asteroids and place them in the L1 and L2 positions.

    • From a warfare standpoint, I'd tend to agree. About the only advantage to weapons on the moon, pointed at Earth, is it's the proverbial doomsday device. If your country is destroyed, you can rain death upon your enemies from your moon base.

      One possible use I can think of--though the technology doesn't exist--would be as a giant "spy satellite." Now, obviously, we don't have the ability to read a license plate from the Moon, which supposedly current spy satellites in orbit can do. On the other hand, a mo

      • Consider doing long baseline interferometry using optical telescopes at the lunar north and south poles and on the equator 90 degrees away. You could get a lot of resolution that way but the bad guys would know to be good when the moon was in the sky. Maybe lunar rock could be of use in high orbit though. Fire it to L1 and L2 with an induction catapult then bury your observation platforms in piles of rubble.

      • A decent size particle accelerator placed on the moon could hit targets in earth orbit with about a 1.2 second delay between firing and impact; fairly negligible when your target is incapable of dodging (or detecting the incoming fire, for that matter). With a minimum of interference from the "vacuum" of space, a stream of charged particles at near lightspeed would at minimum wreak holy electronic havoc on any satellite, and at maximum partially vaporize it and/or shove it spinning uncontrollably into a dec
        • Brings to mind an early Heinliein idea: vacuum tubes could be built on the lunar surface using the existing airless environment. How about power amplifiers the size of electricity substations? How about turning rock into streams of alpha particles at all but a fraction of the speed of light?

      • by pmontra (738736)

        I'm not sure that a doomsday device on the Moon is as effective as one on Earth. We still have one here in the form of thousands of ICBMs based in USA and Russia (used to be the USSR). It has worked very well so far in keeping us alive so we can say that it is believed to be very effective.

        You can put backup missiles on the Moon but your enemy is going to do the same. The two Moon bases will bomb each other if anything bad happens on Earth. All you get for that investment is a chance to drop bombs on your e

    • This reporter, Mark Whittington, is a Republican/Conservative reporter. Read any of his news reports on any issue such as the Gitmo prison, WikiLeaks, the financial regulations, the Ground Zero Islamic Center or the health care reform. He will start off bthis report by factually quoting a few people on either side of a given issue but will always slip in his opinion or editorial that is always pro-conservative and anti-Obama. You can check yourself by reading any of his reports. They are available by clicki
      • by hey! (33014)

        This reporter, Mark Whittington, is a Republican/Conservative reporter ...

        Sure, he's a Dick, but that just means he'll be thrice Lord Mayor of London.

      • by corbettw (214229) <corbettw&yahoo,com> on Wednesday January 26, 2011 @09:13AM (#35007450) Journal

        Everyone has biases, including reporters. The myth of objective journalism is just that, a myth. And your focus on Mr. Whittington's political leanings is nothing short of an ad hominem. Either his article and ideas have merit, or they do not. Attacking (which includes criticizing as well as simply "pointing them out") his politics is a distraction and waste of time.

      • by inthealpine (1337881) on Wednesday January 26, 2011 @09:39AM (#35007662)
        Oh no not a Republican, I guess we can ignore everything he says then. Even though you point out he uses facts and draws conclusions from those facts we can't consider his point of view because he has an imaginary R at the end of his name. If you disagree with TFA then disagree with it, don't just not like someones politics and therefore dismiss TFA out of hand.
  • Hells yea... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PhantomHarlock (189617) on Wednesday January 26, 2011 @02:56AM (#35005216)

    Ever read Heinlein? Lots of good/bad ideas. Rocks are easier to throw downhill. So are nukes. Lots of nefarious uses you could put it to if you wanted.

    Strategically, it's the equivalent of taking the castle on top of the hill...much easier to fight invaders coming up, and to reign death down upon anything lower than it.

    But like that castle, it is in a precarious position in that supplies can be cut off...

    • by anom (809433)

      Assuming it isn't self-sufficient :)

    • by tm2b (42473) on Wednesday January 26, 2011 @03:03AM (#35005268) Journal
      Read a great quote a while back. "There are two kinds of Libertarians: those who don't know Heinlein was writing fiction, and those who don't know Ayn Rand was writing fiction."
    • The problem is that the first 70,000 miles or so is uphill.

      p.s. dear God in heaven, all this white space is burning my retinas!!!!

    • by nedlohs (1335013)

      It isn't downhill. You may have noticed that the Moon hasn't fallen into the pacific ocean recently.

      • Moon to Earth is "downhill" (obviously not literally, but in the sense that it's a hell of a lot easier to go downhill than uphill) compared to Earth to Moon. In a war between Moon and Earth, Moon has the advantage which is where I believe the Heinlein mention comes from. Not sure how that has any relevance to a was between two nations on Earth though.

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      Those benefits are only felt where the need exists. The need does not currently exist, and the time when such a need might arise is arbitrarily far into the future. Achieving control of the moon - if such a thing is even possible - would be gambling vast amounts of resources, opportunity, and political ill-will against completely unknown odds. We might as well talk about taking military control of L3, or a black hole, at this point.

  • Any kind of launch system that is on the moon will require less energy to use due to the diminished effect of gravity and lack of atmosphere. While getting any such system to the moon obviously has it's difficulties, lobbing rocks/missiles/whatevers from the moon is going to be way easier than doing the same from the Earth. Furthermore, there is simply more room than any station one could build in space to house a base, "ammunition" for any type of weapons system, etc.

  • Klingons have been spotted around Uranus.
  • What you have to do, is build a "giant laser" on the moon. Then you can hold the world ransom for 1 million dollars! MUAHAHAHA.
  • http://www.ironsky.net/

    (From the people who brought you Sky Wreck)

  • by ChunderDownunder (709234) on Wednesday January 26, 2011 @03:22AM (#35005400)

    The moon is a bug hunk of cheese, so who are you going to declare war on?

    Baguette wielding Frenchmen?

  • It has military value if it causes a nation to divert resources from other, more pressing security and social issues in order to militarize the moon. But its military value is probably negative as previously stated by the other posts, but value none the less.
  • Of course the moon has military value.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_Madness [wikipedia.org]

    Also a good place to keep prisoners.

  • Why not Mars, as in Martes. The name says it all!

    • Why not Mars, as in Martes. The name says it all!

      Good idea. Lets send the world's military to Mars, or better yet, Titan or Alpha Centauri!

  • "Unsinkable Carrier" (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dails (1798748) on Wednesday January 26, 2011 @03:50AM (#35005584)

    I am reminded of the Battle of Midway, where Midway island was thought of as an "unsinkable carrier" and the plans for defense included heavy use of the airstrips on the island. The island was also far from resupply or support. Once the battle started, the Japanese, who knew exactly where Midway was, bombed the hell out of it. The primary strength of aircraft carrier is their ability to move; when properly used they're hard to find even while employing their airpower in combat. The moon, I think, is analogous in both the unambiguous location and difficulty of resupply.

    • The Battle of Midway was an ambush [wikipedia.org],.courtesy of the allied code breakers.
  • by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Wednesday January 26, 2011 @04:12AM (#35005706) Homepage

    See "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" by Heinlein.

    The Moon is high ground relative to Earth, contains a ready source of very large rocks, and is a shallow enough gravity well that it would not be hard to throw the aforementioned rocks at the Earth with readily available technology.

    • Yeah its been covered about a hundred times up the page. On the downside you won't have much control authority after you throw each rock. The large mass means that you would need a lot of energy to change its trajectory. Each rock would spend about two days falling to Earth and it would be easy to spot with radar. Almost immediately it would be possible to identify the city it was aimed at. A few hours from impact the impact location should be known to within a few or so. The best countermeasure might be to

      • by pmontra (738736)
        Furthermore we're still not at the point that anybody can go to the Moon by firing a rocket from the backyard, hide in a cave and start throwing boulders back to Earth. The guys you hit are going to know who you are and will retaliate by nuking your country on Earth, so what's the gain for investing all those resources to build that Moon base? If you can go to the Moon you probably can already shoot ICBMs with nuclear warheads.
      • Rocks aren't aerodynamic, so the fall through the atmosphere will add significant deviations to their path. During WW2 this aerodynamic uncertainty amounted to about 6 feet per 1000 feet of drop - even for a bomb designed to fly straight. So for a 100,000 foot drop through the whole atmosphere that would put you +/- 600 feet off target, even under perfect conditions and with impossibly accurate targeting. You're more likely to be way outside the 1960's (reported) ICBM target area, which estimated a nuke wou
      • by Magada (741361)

        Worst case is you get more than one rock. Throw a couple dozen small but well-aimed boulders, destroy Tokyo's train stations, Narita, Haneda and the major highway nodes. Threaten to lob more if you see signs of mass evacuation. You now have 8 million pissed-off, scared but relatively unharmed hostages, whose condition is rapidly deteriorating from hunger and disease. Quite the chip to throw on any bargaining table.

    • by mosb1000 (710161)

      it would not be hard to throw the aforementioned rocks at the Earth with readily available technology

      No technology is readily available on the moon. You're right about there being lots of rocks though.

  • We already have plenty of ways to deliver large bombs to targets, ranging from ICBMs to trucks. Shooting them from the moon doesn't help. If you're going to attack assets in Earth orbit, they're far closer to Earth than the moon. The "helium-3" thing is a crock. We can't even build a deuterium fusion reactor, and that's easier than a helium-3 one. The only advantage to helium-3 fusion is that there are fewer radioactive byproducts. We can make helium-3; tritium decays into helium-3, and we can and do m
  • by gig (78408) on Wednesday January 26, 2011 @05:03AM (#35006034)

    America can, nay must, blow up the moon.

  • Translation (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Lord Bitman (95493) on Wednesday January 26, 2011 @05:39AM (#35006240) Homepage

    "NASA's funding keeps getting cut, and yet we're spending trillions on war like it's nothing"
    "War, eh? We can do that in space, sure."

  • by peter303 (12292) on Wednesday January 26, 2011 @01:41PM (#35010628)
    According to what I saw in the 50th anniversary retrospectives, the sputnik launch was was initially interpreted and military defeat for the US. The other side has superior ability to send weapons toward us and spy on us. To his credit President Eisenhower turned the debate into an international education competition and ushered in the golden age of science. The world still benefits from the afterglow of this initiative.

Any program which runs right is obsolete.

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