With the discovery that the eternal shade of lunar polar craters act as stores of water ice (no - not sno-cones) the doability of a moonbase has, definitely increased. Water provides, well, water plus - with solar generated electricity - hydrogen and oxygen. This means that with the resources available on the moon itself, life-support and vehicle fuel can be manufactured. This is without including the potential for mining metals and other usable solid compounds such as silicates for production of ceramics.

If we can truly 'set up shop' on the moon, with full cycle industry - from raw materials and native energy resources to finished building materials, life-support resources; combined with highly efficient use and re-use systems, we can not only imagine a self-sustaining moon base, but a space craft manufacturing center.

Since payloads of only some of the materials necessary for the construction of  spacecraft would, therefore, have to be shipped out of the Earth's gravity well and the ships themselves would not have to achieve Terran escape velocity (and the incumbent structural strains involved), less material would be needed for the structure of the ships and less fuel would be needed to cross interplanetary distances. 

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Replies to This Discussion

If I may...

Isn't it enough that we're quickly using up resources on the earth without sucking dry another body in space?

I mean, I'm all for moon colonization, but for scientific study, not the free market.
Dude - its not like anything is using moon resources. What I'm talking about, is instead of using Earth resources that have to be inefficiently pushed past the Earth's gravity well, we use whatever we can native to the moon. Are you worried about lunar deforestation? Extinction of the non-existent native lifeforms?
I'm sorry. I misread your post.

I'm not worried about the extinction of life forms (especially since none exist on the moon... that we know of), but of the body itself.

But, as I said, I misread the article.

I would just rather see the moon used as a research base and launch point for missions to places like Mars and such. It could be the first Interstellar Gas* Station... :P

(*"Gas" is used here in a metaphorical sense, rather than the literal sense of fossil fuels used to run our cars)
Im not for free market either, but until mankind socially evolves to the point of seeking knowledge over material gain we will have to rely on capitalism. Believe me the word leaves a nasty after taste like Scotch or diet Shasta, but there are certain realities with which we must contend.
Survival of our species is whats ultimately at stake Nathan. And as no other life sentient lifeforms seem to inhabit this system I think its a good starting point. Don't I beg you, get so wrapped in environmentalism that you lose focus of the point of it all. Our beautiful "pale dot" is doomed regardless of what we do to it or for it. Same with every other possible living space in our system. We must begin to move out.
Yeah, you're right. It pisses me off because I really don't like the Free Market. Not capitalism persay, but an unregulated free market is not good, IMO.

Like I said to Howard... I misread the article, so I thought it was talking about consuming Moon resources for the Free Market, which bothers me, because even if there aren't any other life forms there, it's still a body in space, still a... "planet" (just because I can't think of another word... besides Moon, that is).

My hope for it is that it becomes essentially a refueling station for trips to Mars and onwards. That, to me, would be cool.
Yes absolutely. We should have established a base on the moon twenty years ago for just that purpose, or mainly that purpose.
As for capitalism it is a consumer based economic system which fosters the worst in our species. Regulated , heavily regulated is doable for now, but we must evolve beyond our desire to possess more than the next person. This of course isnt in the foreseeable future, for goes hand in hand with advanced energy procurement. And the greatest untapped energy source for us now rises in the sky every morning and we are no where near that ability.
I understand the lust for oxygen from moonwater, but caring about the by-product-produced hydrogen baffles me.
There's plenty of solar power available on the moon. But you can't propel yourself around with electricity - you need a propellant. I suppose, you could create some kind of mag rail to launch off the surface - but for attitude and landing, you're going to need some way to propel material. Again, maybe a rail-gun shooting ferrous particles would work. It's true that hydrogen trapped in the water would be expensive to just blast into space.
Hey, Howard. Read Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. He considered an electromagnetic catapult for a somewhat crude form of transport back in the 60's.

As for electrical power for thrust, how about ion/plasma engines? No, they won't get you clear of a gravity well, but once clear, you got consistent albeit low thrust for wherever you want to go.
Read it. Yes. However, don't want any AI dropping rocks on us - so shhhhh.....

Yeah - I'm wondering about landing and attitude jets. Maybe a big net to land in? And, if you made a fine 'rust dust' (there should be ferrous material on the moon) you could vent that with magnets for steering.

Eventually, the best way to go from surface to stable orbit and back would be a Geosynchronized elevator ala Fountains of Paradise (Clarke)
Ala Kim Stanley Robinson's....Red Mars!
Hydrogen could be a recylable method of electrical storage in areas without sun. Hydrolyze the water with solar in the sun, use a fuel cell to get electricity back in the shade. Capture the water in a closed system to rehydrolyze when in the sun.


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