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ADONAI On February - 15 - 2011

From now on we live in a world where man has walked on the Moon. It’s not a miracle; we just decided to go.

~Tom Hanks(as Jim Lovell in the movie Ap0llo 13)

Almost 42 years ago, man accomplished something previously thought impossible. Not unlikely or improbable. Just plain ol’ impossible. A man setting foot on the surface of a different world was an idea best left to science fiction writers. The dangers were too great to overcome. Human ingenuity was just too limited to address so monumental a task. But, it turns out, the sci-fi pulp writers were on to something.

On a fall day in 1962, President Kennedy made his famous speech, spurring the American/Russian “space race”. A bold declaration that the United States would set foot on the Moon by the end of the decade. At that point, our ventures into space amounted to dipping  a single toe in a vast ocean. Now we were going to dive in head first. The most amazing thing is that it only took 7 years. 7 years!Le’s look at it a different way. Looking at our history of flight.

Let’s say that da Vinci was the “godfather of modern flight”. He was known to have worked on “flying machines” never before heard of.   We’ll say he drew his first design in 1472.  At 20 years of age. Man did not record a successful flight til 1903, 431 years later. Many attempts were made in that 431 year span. Perhaps there were successful takeoffs during this time frame but the landing must not have been very successful since no one recorded anything.

On the day Kennedy gave his speech, America was just beginning to master jet engines and build the huge commercial liners we see today. 7 years later, we were on the Moon. Only 66 years after we made our first successful flight. Ridiculous. It was not a great technological leap in those intervening years that led to our success. We had to invent new technology to solve this problem. Push ourselves in a way we had not since the Allies stormed the beaches at Normandy.

But we made it. We walked on the moon, hit a few golf balls, then we never went back. The last manned mission to the Moon was Apollo 17 in 1972. A mostly uneventful mission that did produce the most popular and well known photograph of Earth, “The Blue Marble”.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Blue_Marble

Now, almost 40 years later, there is renewed interest in returning to the Moon. Spurred on by technological advances and the recent discovery of water, colonization has become a popular topic again among NASA scientists. Right now there are several missions being discussed that will begin the formation of a permanent outpost on the Moon.

But how will a colony on the Moon come about and what would it even look like? Truth is, scientists are still struggling with the basic questions regarding a colony on the Moon. The first step to colonization will be developing structures that can sustain life on the Moon’s surface. A far more difficult task than first imagined. A reason why some have proposed building just below the surface. Days on the Moon last roughly 2 weeks and can see temperatures as high as 250 degrees fahrenheit. Nights also average 2 weeks and can see temps as low as  -243 degrees. Extremes that would wreak havoc on most any structure we could build. Underground, the extremes would average -9 degrees on both ends. But we could use central air to regulate the temperatures underground. One possible solution to all this is to build near the polar caps which receive a steady supply of sunlight. Or, at the very least, begin our power grid there.

With a structure in place, the next step would be to obtain a steady supply of food and water. At first the base would be wholly reliant on provisions from the Earth, but as  structures became permanent and an “Earth like” atmosphere was put up, water could be stored on site and farming could begin. The next big step will be acclimating plant life use to the 24 hour cycle on Earth to the much longer 2 week cycle on the Moon. Tests in the 1970’s by the Russian Space Program have shown that many types of commercial crops can be grown on this cycle and several ideas for carrying forward on a larger scale are already being developed. Including crops bred to grow much faster than those on Earth and basic light techniques developed during the Soviet tests.

Were all this to succeed, it still would not guarantee a successful colonization. The biggest concern is the Moon’s low gravity and it’s effect on the human body. Zero gravity tests in space have shown that constant exposure to this situation causes atrophy in bones and muscles. Without the resistance of gravity, they do not receive the exercise they need to stay strong. All tests have been done in zero gravity situations and scientists are still unsure whether low gravity would still pose the same problems. A rigorous, daily exercise program has been shown to counter some of the effects of the process but is by no means a stand alone solution. This is the biggest challenge faced in colonizing the Moon. No oen yet knows if the Moon’s low gravity will be sufficient to counter these effects as no one has spent the amount of time there that is required to realistically test it. We are still working on an effective way to create acceptable gravity that does not involve spinning the entire structure to obtain the desired result. Such a structure would be quite difficult and costly to build under the Moon’s surface at the current time.

It is all very much worth it as the Moon is rich in elements like carbon and hydrogen. Key ingredients to almost everything on Earth. The uniqueness of pressures when working on the Moon also makes certain industrial processes such as “foaming”  metal, much easier than on Earth. A process that involves injecting gases directly into molten metals before they are shaped and hardened. On Earth, it was fraught with difficulty from bubbles formed by the gases but the Moon’s low gravity prevents the bubbles from even forming. This process will be key in engineering the future of space travel, turniong the Moon into our first factory dedicated to space exploration.

Time on the Moon will also give us valuable experience living on another world. Learning the ins and outs of planetary colonization. Overcoming the physical and psychological barriers of being separated from the Earth.   Making the future colonization of Mars a much simpler process. Plus, who wouldn’t want to vacation on the Moon? Cruising he border of  a crater carved out 50o million years ago while you enjoy the 15 hour sunset. China and India have a proposal to put a base on the lunar surface by 2020. America, not too long after in 2025. That was before the discovery of water and other resources inside the lunar soil. There is  a possibility America may attempt to beat China there and obtain first come, first serve “rights” to the majority of resources.

The economic “collapse” at the end of the decade was a big setback for NASA and other government programs deemed “non-essential” but lately the government has shown signs of moving back int heir direction.  The next decade could be very exciting for fans of colonizing the moon. What do you think? Should America attempt to beat China to a Moon base? If so, what should it’s main purpose be? A launching point for our continued exploration of the solar system? A new land waiting to be colonized and populated by the citizens of the Earth? Or just another large mine to be rummaged til it’s depleted? Personally, I think colonizing the Moon is the first step toward huge things for the human race. A trivial thing to some that could stand as the next major step in our evolution. But, that’s just my opinion. What’s yours?

Written by ADONAI

For, behold, the LORD will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by his sword will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many.

16 Responses so far.

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  1. whatsthatsound says:

    I think I’m too much of a homebody to imagine this kind of thing! :) What about animals? I think I’d go crazy just living with a bunch of my own species, not being able to check out birds, squirrels, knowing the nearest deer was tens of thousands of miles away, ditto the nearest river with fish in it. Mentally, I’d last a week at most.

    But there are many different kinds of people, and I admire those who would have the constitution for something like this.

  2. Plutocrats really suck says:

    Why not recolonize Detroit? Or Flint Michigan?

    That money can be used here and now. It’s a damn shame because you wrote about wonderful things.

    • ADONAI says:

      I still don’t see why we can’t do both.

      People labor under the impression that this country is some how poor.

      Far, far from it. Besides, the revenue made from mining the Moon could greatly benefit Detroit and other cities. Instead of cars, Detroit could become a factory for building the future of space exploration.

      Millions of jobs.

      • Plutocrats really suck says:

        ADONAI< you are absolutely right about that, this is a very wealthy country but good luck prying the funds out of the hands of the special interests. I would like to see both happen as well, however there are many technological obstacles to overcome before mining bears any fruit. I'm not saying it can't be done, it would take a collective will for space exploration not seen since the 60's.

    • boomer1949 says:

      I lived in Flint, MI 1982-85 and experienced Michael Moore’s Roger & Me first hand. It was devastating then, and, I imagine, even more so now.

      It is a shame we, as a society, do not have enough common sense and empathy to “take care of our own.” After all, we are all in this together — except for the 1%ers.

      ***EDIT*** Oh, and I can see the moon from my kitchen window.

    • ghsts says:

      Because the rent is too damn high! Once Detroit is 100,000 people surrounded by fallow land then folks will allow reinvestment.

    • KQuark says:

      Because they found no intelligent life in those places. Just kidding you really do have a great point. The money would be better spent revitalizing most of the inner cities around the country.

  3. ghsts says:

    Colonizing the moon is a good fantasy and if we ever come up with the technology to do it sign me up as a day laborer. Dedicating research and science to solving those major issues that prevent us from going there, no doubt, will make surviving on our home planet possible. Considering we are tapping out a large supply of our rare earth metals, economy, energy and habitat technologies to simply put a dinky station in low earth orbit makes me giggle at the thought of what a colony on the moon would look like with today’s tech.

  4. zootliberal says:

    Nice ADONAI!

    Though I love the idea, and really enjoyed the article, I have mixed feelings about spending the time, money and resources when there is still so much to done and to repair here on earth. The idea that we might get into a race for moon’s resources, somehow believing sections of the moon could be owned by one country or another is also troubling.
    But, as I said, my feelings are mixed, and it would be utterly fascinating to see humans return to the moon once again. It may be in our destiny to venture far out in space, who knows maybe we will eventually pass through some type of time altering worm-hole and end up back here 10,000 years ago to colonize our own planet.

  5. ParadisePlacebo74 says:

    My biggest issue with lunar settlement, and any lifeforms living in space generally, is the cosmic ray dilemma. I think it’s great that we look far enough forward to imagine ourselves living outside of the earth’s magnetosphere, but until all life forms can be somewhat easily shielded from cosmic rays, it’s all just (moon) pie in the sky.

    Why cosmic rays create a double whammy on the moon: Radioactive Moon

    Why solar flares (like the one about to hit the earth right now) can be a double edge sword: Who’s Afraid of a Solar Flare?

    A promising path to the shielding problem: Magnetic shield could protect spacecraft

    And why you are so right about how amazing, and potentially important, amorphous metals are: Liquids on Pause

  6. KQuark says:

    As a product of the early sixties I like millions of other kids truly wanted to be an astronaut. I was devastated when in grade school I had to start wearing prescription glasses because I knew my astronaut aspirations were over.

    My personal expectations for space travel have been diminished greatly even the last few years. Mostly because so many damn things on this planet are not progressing as quickly as they should thanks to the conservative influence not just here but in Europe as well. Sure in the late 50’s to early 70’s when progress on earth was going at a brisk pace that was a great time to send mankind to the moon but not now.

    I also think the Hubble project was so utterly successful that even for scientific purposes manned space travel is not necessary.

    • AdLib says:

      I remember building a model of the lunar lander and the Apollo orbiter when I was a kid. Ah, the old days when kids could buy model glue.

      • KQuark says:

        You’re fecking kidding me I did the same set. I still remember how tough it was to wrap that delicate gold foil around the lunar lander. I loved models actually. I had all the Star Trek models. All types of ships and planes as well. But man the glue gave me a headache.

  7. texliberal says:

    A musical tribute to ADONAI

  8. PocketWatch says:

    As an old time SF fan, and a practical guy, I think we are foolish NOT to invest (and it would be an investment) in space colonization. I think we should build LaGrange colonies, colonize the Moon, go to Mars, and someone, for God’s sake, figure out an FTL drive so we can get the hell out of here before the next Ice Age!


  9. RF_Dude says:

    Hi Ad -- I still remember looking up at the moon that evening in July, and knowing that another person who probably resembled my father was up there looking back at Earth.

    For a nerdy kid in Junior High just finding out what the world has to offer, it was breathtaking and life changing.

    I have never forgotten that evening, and I hope that it isn’t 431 more years before we go BACK!

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