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NASA Considers Plans for Permanent Moon Base 353

el crowbar sent us a link to an MSNBC article detailing NASA's plans for a moon base. The permanently staffed structure could begin construction sometime in 2010, with six-month duty rotations the norm by 2025. Interestingly, the space agency is looking far afield for technical expertise. Consultants on the project include individuals from Caterpillar, Norcat, Boeing, and other manufacturing concerns. Right now the only detail for placement and purpose is 'on the rim of a crater near one of the poles', but the article outlines a few other ideas that enterprising individuals have in mind for a moon base. Besides helium-3 mining and lunar hotels, do you have any good ideas for a moon base startup?
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NASA Considers Plans for Permanent Moon Base

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  • Sports! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Form-o-Stuff ( 706090 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @05:46AM (#17871412)
    Naturally, a basketball court for all us white folk...
    • Retirement... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mi ( 197448 )

      If they can't solve the age-related muscle- and bone-deterioration problems by the time I get frail, I want to be able to retire on the Moon. Yes, I know, getting there once will be difficult, but I hope, I'll be able to make it.

      And then — many more years of free movement in a comfortable nursing home. With beautiful views, miles of walkways, high-speed Internet (even if some latency remains talking to Earthlings), and monthly visits from family...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gbulmash ( 688770 ) *
      Naturally, a basketball court for all us white folk...

      Yes, the 1/6 gee would definitely increase your vertical leap and increase the odds of being able to dunk. But you should specify that the court be indoors, heated, and pressurized. Trying to do a lay-up in those big bulky spacesuits might be harder than you think.

      I think other indoor, 1/6 gee sports that would be pretty cool:

      Diving. Besides jumping higher, you fall slower, giving you more time to execute some gnarly moves on your way down.
  • Definitly.. (Score:4, Funny)

    by d3m0nCr4t ( 869332 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @05:49AM (#17871438)
    A lunapark and casino with hookers and blackjack... Ah, forget about the blackjack.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by value_added ( 719364 )
      If NASA nixes the hookers, how about a restaurant that serves Aldebaran liqueurs and Ameglian Major cow?

      Maybe someone can come up with a catchy name for it.
  • by Speed Pour ( 1051122 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @05:52AM (#17871450)
    Let's see...

    Moon Base (for the sci-fi fans)
    Resort Hotel (most likely modeled in the Las Vegas "style")
    Commercial trips to the moon (perfect for advertising agencies to plaster their wares on)
    Strip Mining (for the republicans)

    Yeah, you can tell the American touch has been put on these plans (Note, I am American). Any chance we can put some government offices, maybe a DMV or something?

    Disclaimer: This is written as sarcastic dry comedy, not hateful/spiteful/snotty
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Perhaps a shop that sells miniature versions of the Moon Base?
    • More likely a lunar detainment and "rendition" centre far from snooping eyes and pesky UN rules and human rights lawyers.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        Agreed. In this post 1-31 world, some sacrifices must be made if we are to answer the Mooninites in kind.
  • Does it come with a giant "Laser beam?"
  • Make it mobile (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @05:58AM (#17871480) Homepage Journal

    From TFA:

    The general idea is to set up shop on the rim of a crater near one of the moon's poles. Such areas would be in sunlight, with a line-of-sight link to Earth all year round.

    I think we should start by getting a few moon facts straight before we progress to a permenant settlement:

    1. The moon does not rotate with respect to its orbital period around the Earth.
    2. The only places where the Earth rises and sets to even a small degree are close to the equator, and we seem to have decided not to build it there.

    So if it was going to lose line of sight occasionally it would be on every lunar orbit, not every year. The lunar axis of rotation is so close to the orbital plane around the Earth that a polar station will never see the Earth move significantly in its sky.

    If anybody is interested my preference would be for a heavy, pressurised rover. Capable of autonomous driving and control from the ground. Each new crew lands close to the path of the rover and drives it for a week or so. They then meet up with another lander and use its ascent stage to return to Earth. Some ascent stages are landed under remote control so that the first crew can use one to return.

    The problem with a fixed base is that the local area will get boring pretty quickly, so a pressurised rover will be needed in any event. If the rover only drives at 10km/h the whole habitat may just as well be on the rover. It can drive fast enough to always be in sunlight, so you don't have to worry about energy storage at night.

    Ascent stages are flown down under automatic control, or left beh
    • Re:Make it mobile (Score:5, Informative)

      by mangu ( 126918 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @07:26AM (#17871838)
      The only places where the Earth rises and sets to even a small degree are close to the equator

      That's not entirely true. The earth rises and sets in places all around the moon's circumference as seen from the earth, not only at the equator. The effect that makes the moon's face as seen from the earth move a little bit is called "libration". There is libration both in longitude and in latitude. For some points near the poles of the moon, libration in latitude can make the earth invisible at times. Formulas for calculating librations can be found in chapter 53 of this book [].

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      With all of the problems we have here on earth, I wonder if spending the billions needed to do this is the best use of money, especially when we have children starving in Africa and a serious energy and environmental problem that needs to be solved. I would much rather see the money go into physics and alternative energy research to develop clean new sources of energy that are: 1) High yield 2) Cheap and affordable 3) Clean, do not cause pollution or harm the environment 3) Renewable, comes from a source th
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      The real reason the base would be placed at the poles is two fold. First, it's the only place where, at a mountain peak, solar power is available all the time. Second, it's the only place that has been shown to have water (in the form of ice) near the surface.

      But you're right: It's got absolutely nothing to do with "line of sight" communication with Earth. The near side of the moon always faces the earth.

  • Obviously (Score:5, Funny)

    by TheSexican ( 796334 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @06:14AM (#17871528)
    They need an amusement park. We're whalers on the Moon, we carry a harpoon...
  • Needs fusion (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zouden ( 232738 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @06:15AM (#17871534)

    Besides helium-3 mining and lunar hotels, do you have any good ideas for a moon base startup?
    There's no point mining helium-3 until we get energy-positive fusion working. It's not like He-3 is some missing exotic component.
  • by paganizer ( 566360 ) <> on Saturday February 03, 2007 @06:16AM (#17871540) Homepage Journal
    It's a pain manufacturing a vacuum; the moon has a lot of it laying around, making it a great place to make things that require one.
    How about.... a solar forge, melting down local ore, bubbling a gas through it (lower gravity means more spherical bubbles, better strength) to make foam alloy structural elements, then putting it on your solar powered catapult to shoot into orbit for either a) recovery for earth use via semi-controlled re-entry or b) orbital construction.
    Low gravity ceramic compounds would be interesting also.

    um... a joke has to be thrown in...
    great place for a remake of Sapce:1999?
    • The moon is a harsh mistress. If we go up there we might not be able to come here back down :p.
    • by DoctorNathaniel ( 459436 ) <> on Saturday February 03, 2007 @09:55AM (#17872758) Homepage
      Vacuum is cheap on the moon, but not very good. There are a fair number of trace gasses and dust (when disturbed) which makes it not very clean. We can fairly easily get vacuum in the lab that beats low Earth orbit. Yes, it's expensive; it costs hundreds or thousands of dollars... about a millionth of a moon shot.

      • by jdray ( 645332 )

        Yes, it's expensive; it costs hundreds or thousands of dollars...

        Is that by the pound, or kilogram?

  • Make it underground (Score:5, Interesting)

    by yamamushi ( 903955 ) <[yamamushi] [at] []> on Saturday February 03, 2007 @06:18AM (#17871548) Homepage
    Probably not very feasible, but why not have a base built underground, where the temperature could be stabilized year-round?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I think initially this would be due to a lack of bulldozers. "Bermed" construction has been proposed since a long way back as it solves several problems, not the least of which are insulation and protection from micrometeorites.
  • by gd23ka ( 324741 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @06:20AM (#17871554) Homepage
    Inquiring minds want to know.
  • by PhreakinPenguin ( 454482 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @06:21AM (#17871562) Homepage Journal
    Normally something like building a base on the moon would seem like a cool idea. But in today's world of politics and jockeying for money, this will never see the light of day. Projects over 4 years are guaranteed to get the boot at some point down the road for either political reasons or just flat out budget issues.
  • Hey, somebody call Babs Bain and Martin Landau! We've got an endless supply of Eagles, crap scripts and disaffected space-hippies out there for you to go find. Just make sure you can remember the only two facial expressions you ever had to pull: "shocked" and "confused".
  • Don't they know that a base on the moon is just going to be overrun by Cybermen? Duh!
  • they are not able to acceptably and feasibly maintain an orbital space station around earth. Are they gonna go set up a base in a more distant and hostile environment ?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by rbanffy ( 584143 )
      As incredible as it may sound, an orbital station is a lot worse an environment than the Moon.

      Low gravity instead of no gravity: all sorts of things get more complicated in zero-G. Cooling is a nice example - you have to force circulation of fluids because convection does not exist. Fluids in pipes (plumbing in general) are also much better behaved in any gravity than in zero-G. You could have a decent shower in a moonbase, although I would not recommend a swimming pool due to the risk of drowning - it's ha
      • I've read that the moon dust eats away at most of the seals that were used on the moon lander. Are they using rubber seals? Or something else? Have they made any progress on the technology to stop the moon dust from eating at it?
      • by jdray ( 645332 )
        Note also that your routine bodily functions in a gravity well involve waste products immediately leaving your vicinity upon exit, unlike in zero G.
    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      It is running - but it really is only called the ISS because it isn't completely Russian.
  • Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by haakondahl ( 893488 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @06:37AM (#17871642)
    So far the best rationale I have seen is for vacuum manufacturing. Fine, that's a good application for this thing, but does it work economically? How much do you pay a guy to operate the vacuum thingy here on Earth? Now, no matter how much better the vacuum on the moon, how much are you willing to pay (including things like transportation and lodging) for him to do it on the moon?

    Just existing up there requires a Ph. D. in Not Fucking Up the Hab.

    And for what? He-3? Try again.

  • Settlers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mrnick ( 108356 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @06:48AM (#17871692) Homepage
    Forget 6 month rotations. Ask for volunteers to make the moon their permanent home. They would need larger sturdy buildings but the goal should be to build enough infrastructure so that mining and refineries can eventually build additional infrastructure completely from resources on the moon itself. In the long run I imagine that this would be much more economical than trying to maintain an aging space station. I would def be looking to sign up to be a lunar pioneer. Sure it would be hard but nothing worthwhile comes easy. The 3 main resources that would be in short supply would be oxygen, water, and food. But with water and seed food could be grown.. maybe even enough plant life to produce a renewable supply of oxygen and food. Leaving only water, I guess that's why NASA is so bent on looking for that stuff!

    Electricity could be provided from solar power, since you would have areas that always receive direct sunlight. At first a large scale Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator could provide more than enough power.

    I may be a pessimist but it's my belief that the key to long term human survival (as a species) requires that we find a way to get off this rock and not just for 6 months but indefinitely. The moon seems like a very good start. Once we learn how to survive there the prospect of permanent colonization of an actual planet, like Mars, would be cake.

    Nick Powers
    Computer Science Masters student Texas A&M U
    • Re:Settlers (Score:4, Insightful)

      by DaveV1.0 ( 203135 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @07:10AM (#17871782) Journal
      Ah yes, settlers. How can we sell this?

      Live on the moon in 1/6th gravity. Never come to Earth again. Ridiculously expensive to have family and friends visit. Possible long term health consequences, possible heath effect for children, if children are even a possiblity.

      Yeah. Everyone I know would like to settle there.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Don't forget the cancer you're likely to get within 10 years due to not being shielded from cosmic rays. Unless you live deep underground all the time, which is just oodles of fun, I can tell you.

        --Nathaniel (neutrino physicist in a mine shaft)
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Mr2cents ( 323101 )

        Ah yes, settlers. How can we sell this?
        Lose weight instantly?
    • Re:Settlers (Score:4, Insightful)

      by nicklott ( 533496 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @08:05AM (#17872020)
      I think you underestimate just how boring the Moon is... ask someone who's wintered in Antarctica.

      They do that because a) it's cool b) it's well paid (by scientific standards). a) only lasts about 6 months, b) relies on having somewhere to go to spend the money.

  • So does anybody know when Google is going to start calling the people who applied to come in for interviews?
  • Mooninites (Score:2, Funny)

    by 8ball629 ( 963244 )
    Watch out for Ignignokt, he might flip you the bird real hard then explode... or maybe just light up like a toy. *shrug*
  • by Knutsi ( 959723 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @07:06AM (#17871766)

    "Besides helium-3 mining and lunar hotels, do you have any good ideas for a moon base startup"

    Up, make it self-sustainable, self-expanding and self-developing through utilising the resources available on the moon, aiming to import as little as possible from the mother nest. I say we should aim for a colony, not a base.

    • And they should speak a bizarre mish-mash of Russian, Chinese and English.

    • by nicklott ( 533496 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @09:27AM (#17872552)

      That's somewhat impractical and slightly redundant. Presumably the point of a moonbase is to develop the technology and techniques needed to develop colonies in the future? "Importing as little as possible" is an easy thing to say, but a lot harder to do. Even here on earth we find it hard to grow enough food in enclosed environments, what's it going to be like in space?

      It's worth looking back at human history for lessons on colonies, in fact probably the colonization of North America is the most enlightening and best known. American colonies, whether English, French, Spanish, Dutch or Danish, all had two things in common:

      1. They were expensive
      2. They had a low success rate
      They all had to import things initially (food, people, tools) and they had their own set of problems (disease, climate, natives), but generally colonizing a different continent is a lot easier than a different planetary body. Despite this, most colonies failed miserably. Some of the common reasons for failure included:
      • Lack of knowledge/technology
      • Loss of contact with homeland (boats damaged, weather patterns etc)
      • Abandonment by homeland, due to either upkeep cost or political expediency
      • The original inhabitants didn't like them
      • People are idiots

      Basically, for a variety of reasons, a self sustaining colony cannot be instantly setup, it always needs expensive support from the homeland until it has adjusted to its new environment. However a few colonies were worth the initial huge cost (in both currency and lives) to keep them maintained, the reasons for this include

      • They produced something valuable to the homeland
      • ...

      To cut a long and interesting story short, the successful ones all made money. In the case of the Spanish they literally brought it home in the form of gold, for the English and Dutch new trade goods and markets and the taxes on trade did it and the French, well, are generally a lesson in how not to do it.

      Any extra-terrestrial colony is only going to be a long term proposition if it makes more than it costs. Obviously no body, private or public, is going to throw money at a colony just for the sake of having it there (small scientific outposts excepted). With a current average launch cost of about $10,000 per pound one-way (I think) the moon is going to have to produce or allow production of something pretty fucking valuable to allow a permanent colony to grow there (and there are no new markets out there).

      Assuming you can find that thing then you have the next problem of free market economics. Anything that costs $10,000 per lb is going to be sought after and extremely rare on Earth. As soon as you start transporting it back from the moon in practical quantaties (say one full shuttle load) it's no longer going to be rare and the price is going to drop, or, in the case of something that expensive, more likely plummet. I'm not an economist, but common sense tells me the chances of the price staying high enough for long enough to even break even is negligble.

      The other end of the problem is to lower launch costs of course. I'm not really in the loop anymore but I think the current thinking is that things start getting interesting when launch costs come down to <$500/lb. That's a twenty fold decrease. A jump of that magnitude needs a technology revolution, not just tinkering with existing techs.

      There are many obstacles to permanent ET colonies but the biggie is always the cost of overcoming that pesky gravity field we have. Whilst going to the moon may be fun, and incidentally show those Chinese who's who, I can't help but think that the money would be better spent in this direction.

      • Of course H3 could be that wonder cargo, but that would require similar leaps forward in technology required before we go up there to get it.
      • by Knutsi ( 959723 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @09:48AM (#17872712)
        That some very good points nicklott, but maybe it's possible turn it around and say that the very reason we should aim to a self-sustaining colony rather than a base is just the fact that the moon will probably not be able to send us back any valuable produce. It's not like we'll be growing tobacco there for a profit.

        So if you value permanemnt human space settlement in it's own right, the aim should be for it to exist for it's own sake. Best way to do this is to make it "home" for people. For this, you need it to be as self-sustaining as possible. Once the colony got big enough, it may be able to host greater scientifict research, and also work as a launch platform for deeper space exploration.

        I have no idea if this is more cost-efficient than putting the money into development of exotic launch technologies here on Earth tho'. It may be, but it may also be that those projects has a lower return on the investment than learning how to "seed" new colonies out there that can aid further exploration of space (and secure humanity).
  • by pickyouupatnine ( 901260 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @07:10AM (#17871784) Homepage
    Well the Indians are planning on making a moon trip... maybe everyone'll work together on the moon base.
  • Possibly ... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by vic-traill ( 1038742 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @07:14AM (#17871800)
    Besides helium-3 mining and lunar hotels, do you have any good ideas for a moon base startup?

    This is possibly the most small-minded query ever seen on a /. submission summary:

    [assume best Jeff Spicoli persona] Like, Mr. Hand, do you have any good ideas for a moon base startup? [giggles nervously]

    Opinions on the submission summary aside, the big question for me is: To what extent will Americans (I'm not) expect this venture to be self-funding? A research component (pursuit of pure knowledge stuff) in NASA's budget will, I expect, only get you part-way.

    If helium-3 is present to the extent indicated by the lunar soil samples brought back by Apollo 11 and subsequent missions, then the economics of a lunar mining operations might even work - if we can find something to do with a big swack of helium-3, other than filling kid's birthday balloons. Maybe there's someone out there who is an authority on this: to what extent does using helium-3 as fuel for fusion reduce the by-product/radioactive waste produced by nuclear reactors? Is helium-3 at reasonable cost a Big Win for the nuclear industry?

    The time is certainly ripe for getting serious about getting out of the fossil-fuel business (not from an economic perspective, where Exxon's $40 Billion USD profit last year looks Pretty Good, but from a How Long Can This Go On? perspective).

    I'm reading this the day after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued their report, which says things don't look good, to say the least: -climatechange_x.htm?POE=NEWISVA []

    So the economic appeal may be there.

    Six month rotations are mentioned. I'm not an out-doors guy, but I'll tell you that the prospect of spending 175+ straight days in-doors isn't too appealing to me. Maybe this is why Huxley envisaged Happy Drugs; this would be the ultimate test of our ability to medicate ourselves to contentment in the face of adversity in our environment. I'm wondering what the rotation cycles are for remote assignments on Earth, e.g. Antarctic and Arctic exploration stations? While functionally the Antarctic Winter and the Lunar environment have the same effect - no going outside except in serious gear, or you die - I think that there is a psychological oppression that goes along with being on the moon. Comments?

    I think that six month rotations would take quite a while to build up to.
  • Samarium mining (Score:3, Informative)

    by MadTinfoilHatter ( 940931 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @07:24AM (#17871828)

    Besides helium-3 mining and lunar hotels, do you have any good ideas for a moon base startup?
    It has been suggested that the moon could be used to mine for elements that are rare here on Earth but common on the moon, such as samarium. Samarium is used in (among other things) extremely powerful magnets t [], which in turn can be used for maglev trains. Of course it's not certain that such an operation would be economically feasible, but the are people who are seriously looking into it - and if nothing else, from what I've understood it could at least be a decent side-business if we do go to the moon.
  • starting a country with freedom as its basis on the moon

    i would say that could be done here on earth but it hasn't been, and there is no unclaimed land left to move to.

  • Don't piss off the neighbors []. Their space guns are better than ours ;)
  • Power of course (Score:2, Interesting)

    by LeepII ( 946831 )
    Obviously the export of the moon would be solar power converted to microwave and beamed to recievers orbiting earth. Wasn't it Heinlen who suggested that tunnels be dug and farms created heated by the raw solar energy from above? If h2o is anywhere near the the polar caps then ice mining?
  • Maybe this is just a clever ploy to bring the War on Terrorism to the front []?
  • Dig, don't build! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by starseeker ( 141897 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @09:38AM (#17872642) Homepage
    To me the only sensible thing to do with a moon base is to dig it out of the lunar surface, not place buildings on that same surface. Consider!

    Builds require structural materials to maintain their integrity, which means mass to haul into space

    There is no protective atmosphere on the moon, so the structures are SOL if a rock happens to come wandering in from space, barring LOTS of mass for protection. (Yes it can happen - where do you think meteor showers come from?)

    Radiation on the moon's surface is also not cut down, so same problem as incoming high speed rocks. Materials durability concerns, people concerns, all sorts of fun.

    If we put the sucker underground, we get a nice layer of rock on top of the base, which will neatly avoid getting lots of support materials up there and will protect everyone. It would also provide thermal inertia against extreme temperature swings, reducing energy and insulation costs. Sure the view would suck, but I'll bet after a while the view on the moon would get old too. Have a viewing station above for observations/airlock/what have you, but build the bulk of it underground. The moon is relatively stable geologically and the far more active Earth has plenty of underground structures on it, so the real question is digging it out.

    So I would suggest looking at ways to hollow out large areas on the moon with minimal equipment. My first thought would be small, low mass automated diggers running off of solar power feeds working slowly over time, so we can learn about the environment as we dig into it. Easy to get up there, and over time they could do serious work if built reliable (think filling up a swimming pool one drop at a time, just in reverse.)

    It wouldn't have the neat "space base!" look you see on the covers of science fiction books, but I think it would be much more practical, safe, and useful.
  • by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @10:02AM (#17872792) Journal
    1. send men and women together to the moon
    2. set up webcams around the base
    3. ...
    4. PROFIT!
  • It should be called moonbase alpha.
  • The article says they plan to start building in in 2010. That's only 3 years away. They haven't got anything to put that kind of gear on the moon at present. How do they intend to have a vehicle ready by then?

  • Some ideas (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Ok none of this is new but...

    vacuum industry - there are lots of cool potential manufacturing technologies (and lots of current ones) that require a good vacuum.

    Low-G research - kind of like the vacuum industry

    Microgravity research - Create a Zero-G environment directly on the moon by taking advantage of the vaccum and low G environment; basically build a linear accelerator mass driver on the equator at the highest elevation. Use it to accelerate a lab to moon oribtal speed at that altitude, let the lab wh
  • Offsite storage! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Green Dragon ( 22005 )
    From the original article (from NASA [], not "The moon could also provide some creative commercial opportunities: lunar power from solar cells, protected data archives, mining of lunar metals, and research under conditions of low gravity and high vacuum, to name a few."

    So, if your data is REALLY vital, you can store your backups in the ULTIMATE offsite data center!

  • by failedlogic ( 627314 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @10:30AM (#17872978)
    1. A television station. Local community news. Possibly a shopping channel. Tease on shopping channel that a ticket back to Earth is comming up as an item for sale but never offer it!
    2. Magnifiying glasses and mirrors. I've had fun reflecting sun beams in people's eyes. I'm sure the moon people will having doing it to us Earthlings. Only we'll never know who did it.
    3. A limitless supply of drugs and other entertainment. If you're never coming back, then you might as well have a hell of a time!
  • As a secret staging ground for the resistance once the Decepticons take over.
  • The Alan Parson's Project.
  • Moon Pirates (Score:2, Informative)

    I'm sure The Pirate Bay [] would like to relocate in case the Sealand [] thing doesn't work out. After all the Moon has the same legal status as international waters [].
  • the moon plan (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dbuzzi ( 1059402 )
    How could slashdot miss the big plot in this one.... it's the cheese there going after. Boeing will fly it back to Earth, while Caterpillar scrapes off the new land for some real mooncheese.
  • by smchris ( 464899 ) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @01:30PM (#17874286)
    I have to agree that it is a corporate welfare fantasy.

    Look at one of my favorite examples: the Chunnel vs. the Big Dig. The Chunnel is 31 miles long, 24 miles under the English Channel. The Big Dig is about 6 miles long, 2.5 miles under Boston Harbor. Wikipedia says the Chunnel cost about 10 billion pounds and the Big Dig has cost about $15 billion "so far". Not much difference between the two. The Chunnel has had a non-fatal fire. The Big Dig leaks like a sieve, the books were cooked to hide the substandard materials used to construct it and it has had a fatal ceiling collapse. Makes you proud to be an American taxpayer, doens't it?

    But a person could take any number of examples of bridges to nowhere, Big Pharma and the like that are draining a few billion here and a few billion there of citizen taxpayer dollars until you are talking real money. What I have to wonder isn't how long people will put up with it but how long people _can_ put up with it. Is the typical American so rich he really can be bled indefinitely with little to show for it? I'm guessing not and I think that is an important difference between now and the 60s. You can point out that Apollo had to start from scratch, corporations were probably making a good profit on the deal then too and that the Vietnam war was going on. But the U.S. was in an historic boom, people with well-paying jobs actually made things here and the average household wasn't carrying $7000 in credit card debt. It isn't enough to rebuild the Saturn V or relearn the Apollo program knowledge now residing in nursing homes. We need to get back the best parts of the America that created the Apollo program.

    What scares me most I think is the fallout when it becomes undeniably clear to the world and ourselves that we've metastasized from a pragmatic "can-do" nation of the Right Stuff to some schizoid out-of-touch B.S. nation.

Air is water with holes in it.