Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Russia Talks Moon Base With NASA, ESA

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the sheer-luna-cy dept.

Moon 197

milbournosphere writes "Russia and NASA are reportedly in talks to create a base on the Moon. They're looking to create either a facility on the Moon itself or a permanent space station in orbit around the moon. 'We don't want man to just step on the Moon,' agency chief Vladimir Popovkin said in an interview with Vesti FM radio station. 'Today, we know enough about it. We know that there is water in its polar areas,' he added. 'We are now discussing how to begin [the Moon's] exploration with NASA and the European Space Agency.'"

cancel ×

197 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

You know who you are. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38798825)

Dear libertarians and rationalists who think manned space missions are a waste of money because robots can do the job cheaper:
Fuck you.

Shut up cracker! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38798997)

A rat done bit my sister Nell.
(with Whitey on the moon)
Her face and arms began to swell.
(and Whitey's on the moon)
I can't pay no doctor bill.
(but Whitey's on the moon)
Ten years from now I'll be payin' still.
(while Whitey's on the moon)
The man jus' upped my rent las' night.
('cause Whitey's on the moon)
No hot water, no toilets, no lights.
(but Whitey's on the moon)
I wonder why he's uppi' me?
('cause Whitey's on the moon?)
I wuz already payin' 'im fifty a week.
(with Whitey on the moon)
Taxes takin' my whole damn check,
Junkies makin' me a nervous wreck,
The price of food is goin' up,
An' as if all that shit wuzn't enough:
A rat done bit my sister Nell.
(with Whitey on the moon)
Her face an' arm began to swell.
(but Whitey's on the moon)
Was all that money I made las' year
(for Whitey on the moon?)
How come there ain't no money here?
(Hmm! Whitey's on the moon)
Y'know I jus' 'bout had my fill
(of Whitey on the moon)
I think I'll sen' these doctor bills,
Airmail special
(to Whitey on the moon)

Re:Shut up cracker! (1)

mrclisdue (1321513) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799223)

Hey, thanks for the late great Gil Scott-Heron reminder; it had never occurred to me.

One of the greatest American poets ever.

I'm off to get me some.

Re:Shut up cracker! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38799297)

I'd post a link to the tune, but megaupload.com has a strange notice on it.

Re:Shut up cracker! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38799847)

Did he not know that a year in Vietnam cost the same as the entire apollo program?

Don't sound so great to me...

Re:You know who you are. (4, Interesting)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799485)

Dear libertarians and rationalists who think manned space missions are a waste of money because robots can do the job cheaper...

I think it's important to distinguish between at least two sets of people on this News for Nerds site who oppose manned missions and favour robotic probes instead. On one hand, perhaps there are people who aren't inclined to dream, see no romantic vision in man expanding into the cosmos, and may make a good argument that mankind can have a bold future without ever living the planet.

On the other hand, there's people who have read Ray Kurzweil's conjectures/ravings in The Singularity is Near [amazon.com] and other books. This crowd doesn't lack dreams of humanity spreading through the galaxy. Rather, they might simply say that we should wait a few decades or a century until human beings will have supposedly overcome biological limitations that hamper spaceflight: radiation exposure, need for certain sustenance, limited lifespans that would force unrealistic generational starship designs, etc . That is, such people may figure that human beings will eventually be robotic probes, and once the two are the same, then we can really begin with longterm space exploration that is more than just a stunt.

Plan, or just study it to death? (4, Insightful)

inhuman_4 (1294516) | more than 2 years ago | (#38798845)

Sounds like a good idea. Hopefully they can actually do something with this instead of endlessly talking about it, and sinking money into studys.

Re:Plan, or just study it to death? (4, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38798895)

We can do it, it's mostly a question of whether or not we want it badly enough to do it. Compared with some of the other things we've done lately it should be well within our capabilities. People have been to the moon.

The challenge though is going to be primarily expense, getting the materials to the moon is a relatively well understood problem and most of them can, presumably, be unmanned missions. The real challenge is going to making the base habitable and protected from whatever might fall from the sky.

Re:Plan, or just study it to death? (2)

peragrin (659227) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799115)

Let the moon help with that. it is rock, and tunnel machines can work robotically. Then it is a matter of sealing it off and letting the rock itself be your shielding.

two machines, and create a V shaped complex. It doesn't have to be very long at least as far as tunnels go. and once built the inner layers would be easy enough to seal off.

Re:Plan, or just study it to death? (1)

rednip (186217) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799527)

The Moon is too unstable for human underground habitation and strip mining is still the best way to mine if you can get away with it. (Dark side of the moon; more mining friendly?) For shielding, why not use lead plates, bet yet gold?

Re:Plan, or just study it to death? (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799583)

You do realize that the dark side of the moon doesn't always cover the same ground, right?

Re:Plan, or just study it to death? (5, Informative)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799805)

The Moon is too unstable for human underground habitation and strip mining is still the best way to mine if you can get away with it.

The moon is virtually dead geologically [utk.edu] and has been for 3 billion years. "the energy associated with the Earth's seismic activity is about 10^14 times larger than that of the Moon"

(Dark side of the moon; more mining friendly?)

You do realize that it's not really dark, right? It is only "dark" in relation to the Earth, not the sun.

For shielding, why not use lead plates, bet yet gold

So you want to lift large amounts of very dense materials (or rare) from the earth to the moon rather than use the materials that are already there and adequate? I guessing you recently received your MBA.

Re:Plan, or just study it to death? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38799969)

As opposed to what? Lifiting an entire mining operation, its machinery, all the associated supports you take for granted on Earth, plus all the people and their support systems? What is it about space that turns brains off?

Re:Plan, or just study it to death? (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799551)

I'd say the more difficult part of it would be keeping the surface dust/soil out of the bore. Lunar soil [wikipedia.org] is quite fine, and sharp. It apparently gets in everything, and abrades the hell out of it.

A lot of water (or other fluid) will probably have to be used to wash the stuff off during construction and on entering the base.

Re:Plan, or just study it to death? (3, Insightful)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799449)

I'm just waiting for China to announce a permanent moonbase.

Then we'll suddenly be really fucking interested in going back real fucking fast.

Until then, Russia can gum-flap all they want, there's no political ($$$) motivation to go back. Sure, it'll pay off, but not before the next election cycle, so who gives a rat's ass? I mean, yeah, everybody but the people holding the purse strings.

Re:Plan, or just study it to death? (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799673)

Probably the best thing would be some sort of titanium umbrella (sent in pieces) to sit over the base (or at least the core components) to protect it.

Re:Plan, or just study it to death? (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799695)

Heading this off early:

Even if we haven't been on the moon (rolls eyes) we can certainly pull it off now. To say our technology, medical science, and materials science has improved since then is an understatement.

Re: Proper Plan (5, Interesting)

DanielRavenNest (107550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799735)

tl;dr: Robots first, mine the asteroids for building materials.

The proper plan is to start mining Near Earth Asteroids for supplies. Why NEO's? They take less velocity to reach than the Moon's surface for some of them, and all of the velocity can be done with highly efficient electric thrusters. The Moon is physically closer, but distance is not what costs in space, it's velocity and fuel. Haul back surface dust and rocks from your chosen asteroid with a solar powered tug, and have the extraction equipment in Earth orbit. Why here? it's close enough to be remote controlled by humans on the ground. Depending which asteroid and it's composition you can get: metals, glass, oxygen, fuel for more mining trips, carbon, silicon for solar panels, even water in some of them. Also sheer bulk rock gives you radiation shielding.

Once you learn to extract useful stuff, and build up a supply, you use that to build a habitat, including a greenhouse using the glass for windows and carbon to feed the plants. *Then* you start sending people. Until then you send the minimum crew you can get away with, possibly zero. With people up there and their life support taken care of long term, you can start building space elevators in Earth orbit and Lunar orbit out of the carbon you extract. Not the sci-fi one at Earth that goes all the way to the ground, that takes materials we can't make yet. You can reach 30% of the way to the ground in velocity terms at Earth, and all the way on the Moon, cause it's smaller. 30% in velocity means 50% in energy for a vehicle starting from the ground. You can now build single stage to orbit vehicles easily. At the moon you don't need vehicles at all as far as propulsion, just a pressure cabin. Now you can send people all the way from Earth to the Moon at reasonable cost. You can also send habitat parts made in orbit down to the Moon, and start building up your infrastructure there.

We already know a lot about mining and manufacturing on Earth. The main thing we have to learn is how to do it remotely, and possibly in zero gee (you can always spin things if you need gravity).

well don't you need a way to get food / other (0)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#38798901)

well don't you need a way to get food / other stuff there and keep it coming.

How easy is it to get the water on the moon? is it safe to drink?

Re:well don't you need a way to get food / other (2)

NFN_NLN (633283) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799035)

well don't you need a way to get food / other stuff there and keep it coming.

How easy is it to get the water on the moon? is it safe to drink?

I'm sure they'll filter it first. So unless it's a freakishly high concentration of heavy water, then water is water.

Re:well don't you need a way to get food / other (1, Interesting)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799059)

Most likely you'd be shipping tanks of hydrogen and oxygen and mixing them on the Moon. You don't get any savings in terms of mass, but you get a huge savings in space. The food you'd almost certainly be shipping in and would probably come in some sort of highly concentrated form delivered by unmanned craft.

Re:well don't you need a way to get food / other (3, Interesting)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799161)

Most likely you'd be shipping tanks of hydrogen and oxygen and mixing them on the Moon. You don't get any savings in terms of mass, but you get a huge savings in space.

Umm, no.

H2O density is 1.0 kg/l.

LH2/LOX density, in the ratio required to make water (8 kg LOX per kg LH2) is about 0.42 kg/l.

So you use over twice as much space, as opposed to getting "a huge savings".

Re:well don't you need a way to get food / other (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38799447)

Yeah, but you get electricity out as a free byproduct when you mix the reagents together.

Re:well don't you need a way to get food / other (2)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799569)

Indeed. The Apollo and Gemini used LH2/LOX fuel cells. I believe they made use of the 'waste' water from this as well.

Re:well don't you need a way to get food / other (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799953)

You shouldn't be using liquid water in that calculation. It's not going to be liquid in space unless of course you're intending on keeping it heated the entire way. 9.617 x 10^-1 is a much better umber for that.

Also, you can use some of the oxygen for breathing saving you from having to double up on that with the rest of the gases for the atmosphere. You get the electricity which is a real challenge to get early on. And you're not committed to using all of it for water initially. You can store it for later relatively easy.

Re:well don't you need a way to get food / other (3, Interesting)

riverat1 (1048260) | more than 2 years ago | (#38800105)

Oxygen is abundant on the moon in the rocks. You can make lots of water just by shipping in hydrogen and combining it with local oxygen. You could even make some power in the process.

Re:Plan, or just study it to death? (4, Insightful)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799579)

This is not about studies but a diplomatic arrangement. Noone could build a Moonbase without the consent of the other major powers.

20 years later than it should have been discussed (3, Interesting)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#38798851)

Twenty years later than it should have been on the table.

We should have had a base up there for years - an ideal place to serve as a jumping off point for science elsewhere in the solar system, even if the Moon itself is "barren".

Re:20 years later than it should have been discuss (3, Informative)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 2 years ago | (#38798953)

If we'd gone with the original plan for space exploration, we'dve had a (small) colony on the moon, an orbital transfer/construction station in HEO, and a manned landing or 3 on Mars by 1985. Problem was, there just wasn't any way to put a man on the moon by 1970 if we'd done it that way. Upside is, we'dve had a reuseable lunar lander, just refuel, preflight, and go. We went with Apollo instead because it was the quick and dirty solution.

Re:20 years later than it should have been discuss (2)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799947)

If we'd gone with the original plan for space exploration, we'dve had a (small) colony on the moon, an orbital transfer/construction station in HEO, and a manned landing or 3 on Mars by 1985.

Don't forget flying cars [wikipedia.org] .

Re:20 years later than it should have been discuss (1)

mvmortier (1464377) | more than 2 years ago | (#38798961)

Yes, I agree...

Should be a lot easier to launch something into space if there's no atmosphere and only 16 % of earth's gravity.

Also, the astronauts would have _some_ gravity... maybe you could even build something underground to reduce space radiation?

A lot of interesting things could be done there... space wouldn't be so much of an issue anymore. (Well, only if we could get some machines up there that can create building material out of stuff that can be found on the moon... Building a larger structure with material from the earth would be super-expensive).

Re:20 years later than it should have been discuss (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799207)

I thought I read not long ago that there might be some ancient lava tubes or similar on the Moon, and that there were thoughts of using these to create underground living habitats.

Re:20 years later than it should have been discuss (1)

Sperbels (1008585) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799411)

Or maybe you could just dig a hole in the ground and inflate a tent in it. Boom! Instant base.

Re:20 years later than it should have been discuss (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799443)

The tent won't protect against radiation. Unless you're talking about a hole underground (the way you worded it, it sounds like you're talking about just digging a big pit), which does make perfect sense. The problem is that it takes a lot more work to dig an underground cavern than to use one that's already there, but I don't think it's proven that any such lava tubes exist yet. Of course, we only recently even figured out that water exists there, even though we set foot on the place 40+ years ago, so there's no telling what else is there that we've been too lazy to look for.

Re:20 years later than it should have been discuss (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799749)

You could lay/unroll shielding on top of the tent. You don't have to leave it exposed.

You'd want to have stuff up there anyway to catch solar energy.

Re:20 years later than it should have been discuss (2)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799855)

Cosmic radiation on the moon is pretty hard stuff. I think 12 inches of lead would be a little much for a tent. The astronauts who walked on the moon got away with it because they spent so little time there; for people living there, you need some really serious shielding to limit their exposure.

As for solar energy, it might make more sense to put those collectors in a different location, namely at one of the poles at the "peaks of eternal light", and run transmission cables to the habitat(s), which might be located in other places near other useful things. Of course, transmission cables might have problems with micrometeorites. Then again, your tent idea would probably have a much bigger problem with micrometeorites. Remember, the moon has no atmosphere, so it's constantly getting hit with micrometeorites.

Maybe we could just copy some technology from the Nazis [ironsky.net] with their giant bases on the far side of the moon.

Re:20 years later than it should have been discuss (5, Informative)

DanielRavenNest (107550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799829)

The usual assumption by people who have worked on it seriously (I'm one of them, retired from Boeing, did advanced space studies while there), is you set up a habitat module, which is your Space Station type pressurized cylinder, and then over that you place a quonset hut type arched structure, which you pile lunar regolith (surface rocks and dust) on top of for shielding. Depending what level of shielding you want, it needs to be around 1-3 meters. Given the Moon's gravity, that's equivalent to 16-50 cm on Earth, which is quite reasonable. Your airlock, antennas, and such would poke out of the lunar dirt.

The other thing burying your habitat does is protect it from landing craft. The rocket exhaust from them tends to throw any loose dust around at high velocity. Even if you pave the landing pad itself, there will be loose dust around that.

Weren't we supposed... (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#38798857)

Weren't we supposed to have a well established moonbase 13 years ago?

Re:Weren't we supposed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38798915)

We had a moon base forty-seven years ago. But then we found out that it was infiltrated by Nazis. So we blew it up.

Re:Weren't we supposed... (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799237)

Wrong. There's still a moon base, that was built by the Nazis back in the 40s, on the far side of the moon, using their advanced anti-gravity technology. Pretty soon, they're going to be coming back [ironsky.net] .

Re:Weren't we supposed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38799215)

Weren't we supposed to have a well established moonbase 13 years ago?

You mean one like this [wikipedia.org] ?

Why the moon? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38798917)

Why does everyone want to build a base inside a giant gravity well? Wouldn't it make more sense to build a base anywhere besides there? How about one of those all metal asteroids, or close to the sun where there's lost of solar power?

Re:Why the moon? (5, Informative)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799013)

A) It's (relatively) not that big of a gravity well, and
B) It's pretty close to here for easy construction and resupply,
C) It's easier to protect it and its occupants from radiation and asteroids, and
D) There might be water available nearby, precluding the need to ship at least one thing up there constantly.

Re:Why the moon? (0, Redundant)

wanzeo (1800058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799113)

Once again I will ask the tired question, "Why do actual humans need to ever go into space?"

Take your moon base money and your ISS money and give it to the roboticists, that we might finally advance from a 1940s view of space exploration.

Re:Why the moon? (1)

Fastolfe (1470) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799309)

Are you talking about exploration, or colonization? I agree that it's silly to send humans to explore, but colonization helps protect against extinction. We sort of have all of our eggs on one basket at the moment.

Re:Why the moon? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799333)

Once again I will ask the tired question, "Why do actual humans need to ever go into space?"

Look at it this way, do you want really smart space faring robots sitting above us all of the time?

Do you really want to welcome our new robotic overlords?

Do you?

Re:Why the moon? (1)

Sperbels (1008585) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799441)

Because the earth sucks.

Re:Why the moon? (1)

_4rp4n3t (1617415) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799469)

In the long term, simply to survive [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Why the moon? (1)

jasno (124830) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799495)

This.

Sorry sci-fi fans, but there don't seem to be any compelling reasons for sending humans into space. Providing an earth-like environment is extremely expensive. Humans mess-up, have emotional break-downs, get sick, and they can't eat their own poop for very long.

Let the drones go forth, and work on making sentient machines.

Re:Why the moon? (1)

Fned (43219) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799775)

...Humans mess-up, have emotional break-downs...

...and work on making sentient machines...

Anyone want to lay odds that sentient machines will mess up and have emotional breakdowns?

Re:Why the moon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38799925)

Yeeees, ignore the sci-fi sillyness of manned space missions, and concentrate on the totally realistic scenario of sentient machines. True AI is just around the corner you know, 10 years from now and holding.

Re:Why the moon? (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799607)

Robotics is developing slowly but constantly on its own, but is still very far from replacing a human.

Re:Why the moon? (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799765)

Because, for myself, I still bear hope that one day I'll see it with my own eyes.

And to hell with rationalization and bean counting.

Re:Why the moon? (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 2 years ago | (#38800101)

For the same reason that humans need to exist at all. They don't. Of course, if we go with only having humans in places that they are needed, then we might as well start purging every last human down here.

Re:Why the moon? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38799019)

A small amount of gravity actually makes many things simpler. (Not everything needs to be nailed down.)

Re:Why the moon? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799085)

Which has it's own problems until we get the trip from the Moon to the Earth down pat. If you spend too much time on the Moon, or in space for that matter, you could easily find yourself in a position where you're no longer able to stand the gravity of the Earth. Somebody may someday find a way of causing bones to adapt to the Earth again, but in the meantime it's a very serious problem.

Re:Why the moon? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799375)

That's what the ISS is there for. That's pretty much the only useful research it's doing.

And it appears that it is possible to stay in zero g for a year or two with only mild long term problems. I'd sign up (as would thousands here) even if there were more serious issues.

Re:Space Station (2)

DanielRavenNest (107550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799897)

Actually, the most useful thing we learned building the Space Station is how to assemble and maintain large complex objects in space. Any scientific research done on board is a bonus. If we ever want to do any other large scale projects in space, we had to learn how to assemble stuff, and this was the first really big, long term example (not neglecting all the Russian stations that came before, but they were smaller and didn't stay up there as long).

Re:Why the moon? (5, Informative)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799635)

If you spend too much time on the Moon, or in space for that matter, you could easily find yourself in a position where you're no longer able to stand the gravity of the Earth.

We understand zero/microgravity's effects on human beings pretty well. That said, the longest we've ever had a human on the Moon is 3 days--not really long enough to study anything. One of the things I wish we'd have been able to study on the ISS is the effect of various levels of gravity and their effect on humans. Unfortunately, that capability was cut. [wikipedia.org]

Zero-G/Microgravity is not all that great for human beings. As I understand it, besides muscle issues (ie, not using them), there's also bone-loss. I believe these are dealt with on ISS via a combination of exercise and drugs. The problem is, we don't know how much gravity is necessary. Would 0.5G be enough? 0.25G? 0.16G (ie, lunar gravity)? Do we need gravity the whole time? Could we, for example, put beds in a 1G centrifuge so people get eight hours of 1G while they sleep but spend the rest of their time in Zero-G with no ill effects?

These are things that need to get figured out.

Re:Why the moon? (1)

ironjaw33 (1645357) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799889)

Zero-G/Microgravity is not all that great for human beings. As I understand it, besides muscle issues (ie, not using them), there's also bone-loss. I believe these are dealt with on ISS via a combination of exercise and drugs. The problem is, we don't know how much gravity is necessary. Would 0.5G be enough? 0.25G? 0.16G (ie, lunar gravity)? Do we need gravity the whole time? Could we, for example, put beds in a 1G centrifuge so people get eight hours of 1G while they sleep but spend the rest of their time in Zero-G with no ill effects?

These are things that need to get figured out.

+1 if I had mod points. This sounds like a lot of the studies that have been/are performed with respect to living at altitude. For example, I remember hearing that endurance athletes can get a significant benefit in V02 max and red blood cell count by living at altitude but training at sea level.

Re:Why the moon? (4, Funny)

hey! (33014) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799225)

Why does everyone want to build a base inside a giant gravity well?

To stock it with moon babes in purple wigs and silver catsuits. Duh.

Re:Why the moon? (1)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799471)

I will get surgery and wear a wig if I get to live on a moon base.

Re:Why the moon? (3, Insightful)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799317)

To add to the other comments:

1) it's a lot easier to build a habitat on an existing ball of rock, than to ship materials into place in orbit (or at a langrangian point) to create a self-sustaining structure and habitat. In fact, there's some theories there might be lava tubes where underground habitats can be built. Don't forget, radiation is a big problem in space; inside the Van Allen belts, it's not so much of a problem (LEO is within those belts, and the ISS is at LEO). But out at one of the L points, there's nothing to protect you. There's nothing to protect you on the surface of the moon either, but there's plenty of building material right there, and it probably wouldn't be that hard to build an undeground structure and use the surface as a radiation shield.

2) it's already proven there's water on the moon. Water is a pretty important material for sustaining human life anywhere.

3) Humans need gravity or else they develop health problems very quickly, including massive bone loss. The ISS astronauts work out constantly to combat this, and it's still not enough. The moon only has 1/6 Earth's gravity, and it's unknown what the long-term effects of this will be, but it's certainly better than 0g.

Until we start build very large space stations with artificial gravity, the moon's gravity is probably a cost that's outweighed by the other benefits.

Orbit makes little sense. Surface little more. (5, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38798921)

With a moon base you have access to that water they mention, and perhaps enough sunlight to actually grow food (although the water seems to be in the wrong place for this). You have shelter by digging into the moon itself, and enough free raw materials to extract an atmosphere, make building materials, etc. You don't have to bring everything from earth. You have gravity as well, which makes for more comfortable living and building. None of that is available in moon orbit.

Although an orbiting moon base makes for a quicker return to earth vicinity, the value of "quick" makes it a fairly meaningless advantage. There is no point in putting a base in moon orbit unless you intend to frequently visit the moon surface. At which time you encounter the assent problem, the same problem you have with a moon base.

The major problem of a moon base, or simply visiting the moon, is the problem of fuel expenditures for lift off. For all the Buck Rogers si-fi we've written, we still can't carry enough fuel to get out of sight. Any system we have for getting off of the surface amounts to a zero-backup, Hail Mary. There is no plan B.

We (barely) got out of the moon program without the horror of stranding people there. Until a more realistic system for getting off the moon is built, putting a base there is just a disaster waiting to happen with our current technology.

Maybe it would be easier to build the often talked about space elevator on the moon.

Re:Orbit makes little sense. Surface little more. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38799277)

The major problem of a moon base, or simply visiting the moon, is the problem of fuel expenditures for lift off... Any system we have for getting off of the surface amounts to a zero-backup, Hail Mary. There is no plan B.

We (barely) got out of the moon program without the horror of stranding people there. Until a more realistic system for getting off the moon is built, putting a base there is just a disaster waiting to happen with our current technology.

Maybe it would be easier to build the often talked about space elevator on the moon.

In all sincerity, why can't a large vessel of fuel be placed on the moon? The dual ascent/descent stage utilized by the Apollo program proved reliable, why not reduce it to a single engine, and refuel on the surface?

Maybe it would be easier to build the often talked about space elevator on the moon.

Perhaps, but that would require a Lunar Orbit Rendezvous with either a station or other vessel. Or did I miss your point? Are you purposing a orbital lunar station with an elevator to the surface? That would be interesting, but I'de hate to see what happens when that breaks down.

Re:Orbit makes little sense. Surface little more. (2)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799353)

Apparently, materials like kevlar and spectra would make for a workable space elevator on the moon. Instead of the counterweight being in orbit around the moon, it hangs up and over the "lip" of L1, and dangles Earthwards.

Re: Elevators (2)

DanielRavenNest (107550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38800049)

A rotating cable 600 km long, and having 1 Earth gravity at the tip, would let you place objects at rest on the Moon, and also fling them to more than escape. If it's in polar orbit, it also has the advantage of being able to drop and pick up from anywhere on the Lunar surface. Being much shorter than the Moon-L1 elevator by a factor of around 100, it is much less exposed to meteor impact, which can cut cable strands. Also, the climb time is greatly reduced. Instead of having to climb 60,000 km or so to escape the Moon, you climb at most 300 km from tip to center to reach Lunar orbit, and about 150 km from tip to halfway to center to reach escape. You merely wait till it rotates half a turn, to release you at above orbit speed. The rotation period is around 18 minutes.

To understand how this works, imagine a giant spoked wheel rolling along the Lunar surface. Now remove everything but two spokes opposite each other and the hub, with the motion unchanged. Smaller ones would work also, but would leave some job for a rocket to do on landing or taking off.

Re:Orbit makes little sense. Surface little more. (4, Informative)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799417)

Although an orbiting moon base makes for a quicker return to earth vicinity

No, actually it doesn't. transfer orbit for LLO to Earth takes just about as long as a transfer orbit from Luna surface to Earth.

The major problem of a moon base, or simply visiting the moon, is the problem of fuel expenditures for lift off. For all the Buck Rogers si-fi we've written, we still can't carry enough fuel to get out of sight. Any system we have for getting off of the surface amounts to a zero-backup, Hail Mary. There is no plan B.

Umm, no.

One possibility is to use that lunar water to manufacture LH2/LOX + O2 for use by the base (LH2/LOX mixtures typically don't include enough LOX to burn all the LH2). So, LH2/LOX fuel, Isp 450 more or less, depending on engine design. Assume 420 to allow for generous margin of error.

DeltaV required from Lunar surface to enter an orbit that'll drop you into the upper atmosphere is ~2.4 km/s.

Allow for 80% extra fuel, which should be sufficient for an abort anytime up till you actually enter lunar orbit - 4.4 km/s.

A 420 Isp for 4.4 km/s deltaV requires a mass ratio of less than 3.0. Two kg of fuel for every kg of spacecraft/cargo. Which is pretty easy to achieve, actually.

Alternately, you use Al/LOX. O2 is easier to come by on Luna than H2, since you can find oxygen in the compounds making up the rocks. Ditto Aluminum. Isp is crap, but fuel density is much greater, so you need much smaller fuel tanks. Higher mass ratio, of course.

Which would be the best course is a matter for professionals, of course. But either option is doable, and either vehicle could be developed before we could get a base on the moon to deliver it to.

Of course, if you're really looking for exotic solutions, there's always an escape speed mass driver on the moon. Gives the loonies something to bombard Earth with later, also...right, Mike?

Re:Orbit makes little sense. Surface little more. (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799509)

So after challenging my statement that "The major problem of a moon base, or simply visiting the moon, is the problem of fuel expenditures for lift off. " you launch into a great deal of nonsense about manufacturing fuels on the moon and mass accelerators and have the math all worked out (or so you say)?

Nice to just hand wave 5 years of construction, transport, and assembly into existence.

But hey, you said its easy. so.....

Best perhaps is to take your own advice and leave it to professionals.
 

Re:Orbit makes little sense. Surface little more. (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799965)

Nice to just hand wave 5 years of construction, transport, and assembly into existence.

Correction(IMHO): Nice to just hand wave 50 years of construction, transport, and assembly into existence.

Look how long it took to buid the ISS. We would have needed (and would continue to need) a SaturnV or Shuttle capacity mission every other week for decades to have a semi-sustainable 'base' on the Moon.

It'll happen eventually. But all these fools with "Why aren't we there yet?!?" are simply delusional.

Re:Orbit makes little sense. Surface little more. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38800155)

No, no, you're delusional too.

Re:Orbit makes little sense. Surface little more. (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799625)

Supply drops would probably be easier. In a free orbit, you either have to 'dock' or maneuver into a slightly-different orbit. With the moon, the right math and a bit of preprogrammed thrusting should do the job. Dropping a container full of foodstuffs is a lot less delicate then landing a pressurized pod with millimeter thin skin full of fragile meatbags, after all (Apollo lander).

Re:Orbit makes little sense. Surface little more. (1)

trevelyon (892253) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799913)

The major problem of a moon base, or simply visiting the moon, is the problem of fuel expenditures for lift off. For all the Buck Rogers si-fi we've written, we still can't carry enough fuel to get out of sight. Any system we have for getting off of the surface amounts to a zero-backup, Hail Mary. There is no plan B.

I'm not following this argument. If you can send supplies (or return vehicles) to the moon you surely can send more than one which is one of the simplest forms of backup. This is assuming it is feasible to deposit these resources or at least put them in orbit around the moon unmanned. It will increase the cost but it certainly will not be a zero-backup solution. Additionally, should the base be established alternative launch methods that are not practical on earth due to the higher gravity might find use on the moon moving forward.

The major issue I see is will. It will take a determined effort to do this and I just don't see any political organization in any country right now displaying such fortitude in any areas that are not in the policing or commercial realms.

Re: Space Elevator (1)

DanielRavenNest (107550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799967)

As icebike mentions, space elevator, specifically one rotating at a tip velocity equal to orbit velocity. Then you are dropped off on the Lunar surface at zero net velocity. Half a rotation later, the elevator can fling you off at more than lunar escape, so you can pretty much go wherever you want. What do you build it out of? Near Earth asteroids can supply the raw materials for fiberglass and carbon fiber (depending which asteroid you mine). The asteroids don't have a pesky gravity well, so you can haul back materials entirely using efficient electric thrusters (~10x more efficient than chemical rockets). A partially built elevator helps lower the velocity required, so it's useful even before it's finished.

We have a large, long term ship already. (3, Interesting)

NReitzel (77941) | more than 2 years ago | (#38798985)

I would think that the fastest (timeline) to having a large presence in orbit around the moon would be to boost ISS to lunar orbit, or possibly (stability?) a figure-8 orbit around earth and moon. That gives us a large, stable presence, in a relatively short time frame. ISS is nice, but it's not really doing anything super useful in LEO.

One of the reasons that the US doesn't have the supercollider and CERN does is that they reused all their old equipment. We had similar equipage, the Tevatron, but no, SSC had to be all brand new, and ended up being so great it was never built.

We have a large, manned habitat, already in orbit. Use it.

Re:We have a large, long term ship already. (2)

Spy Handler (822350) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799063)

interesting idea, but NASA is having a hard enough time sending up crew and supplies to ISS in LEO.... if they had to send them to LUNAR orbit, well good luck with that.

Re:We have a large, long term ship already. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38799271)

Right, but the big problem we are having is political with Russia, and something like this might help strenghten the Russian/NASA/ESA ties. What would be a real treat would be to get China to join in with all of the technology Bill Clinton sold them during his presidency and maybe make something bigger than us to get our minds off of bickering over finite earth-bound resources and replacing them with--from our point of view--infinite spaceborn resources.

Re:We have a large, long term ship already. (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38799123)

Since it seems like you do not Google, let me Bing it for you: here [bing.com] . It's just not feasible [colorado.edu] . And actually it had been discussed here as well. [slashdot.org]

Re:We have a large, long term ship already. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38799227)

Yeah, but we don't have a bunch of Nietzcheans to man it; us kluges just can't survive deep-space radiation without real shielding.

So try again, this time with less SciFi "space is a fun place to zip around in any old tin can" and more engineering "space is the most inhospitable desert known to man", OK?

Re:We have a large, long term ship already. (2)

Latinhypercube (935707) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799247)

100% agree !!! Or failing that how about sit it in a LAGRANGE POINT, requiring next to NO FUEL. Where it could be a half way point to the moon and anywhere else. Negating having to reach escape velocity. Then start constructing probes up there, then small ships.
Any and all complaints about feasibility would still be an issue with whatever ship / base they come up with...

Re:We have a large, long term ship already. (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799663)

So, how are you going to keep station? Every launch and landing is going to nudge the station away from the L2 point. You are going to have to correct at some point.

Re:We have a large, long term ship already. (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799337)

A nice suggestion but I doubt the ISS would, in it's present configuration, withstand the needed acceleration to leave Earth Orbit.

Re:We have a large, long term ship already. (1)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799507)

A nice suggestion but I doubt the ISS would, in it's present configuration, withstand the needed acceleration to leave Earth Orbit.

I wonder what the minimum acceleration needed is to lift the ISS out of Earth Orbit?

My (naive) mind is telling me that any acceleration at all would be sufficient, if it was applied consistently in the right direction, over a long enough period... but I'm probably wrong about that :^)

Re:We have a large, long term ship already. (1)

DanielRavenNest (107550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38800077)

Minimum acceleration is arbitrarily small. You can certainly bring more modules to orbit, put lots of solar array on it, and use that to power an ion or VASIMR type electric thruster. In fact, a VASIMR thruster is planned to be tested on the Station, because it's giant solar arrays cause enough drag to lower it's orbit, needing fuel to push it back up every so often. Electric thrusters use 10x less fuel. So you can place a copy of the Station where you wanted to. The problem is radiation shielding. If you go much higher than the current orbit, you get into the Earth's radiation belt, and above that, you are not protected by the Earth's magnetic field from Solar and Cosmic radiation. So any long term habitat needs shielding.

MoonBase (0, Offtopic)

2fuf (993808) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799083)

John Madden!

Don't!! (1)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799105)

Don't dump our nuclear waste there! It has been well established if we do that, the waste will become critical and blow the moon out of orbit.

Still an inefficient waste of money (0)

Eravnrekaree (467752) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799117)

It makes sense that if these things are done to collaborate between the major nations of the earth. Why not include china as well, to pool resources, it will happen quicker, with rewards for everyone, and with more distributed cost.

this is such a massive project, with enormous cost, that such collaboration makes sense.

However, I am doubtful as to wether this is a good use of money. The fact is the moon is a very inhospitable place, it makes Earth look like a paradise. It seems like it makes better sense to spend the money to save the better planet and keep it haitable than to try to move to one that is totally uninhabitable.

Moon, mars and so on are all unprotected from solar rays having no magnetic field, which means they are constantly toasted by the sun. They have no oxygen atmosphere, weak gravity and enormous lists of other downsides. I think for Moon to even be viable there needs to be a water resource on the moon that could be developed locally.

These ideas are, when you look at the logistics, of trying to move to the moon or mars or create a base there, are just so outrageous. If we are talking about scientific research, they provide a very poor return on investment compared to probes, we can launch thousands of probes for what it costs to launch a few people into space.

It is truly a concept for people who are wild eyed and do not have any grounding in reality, efficiency, cost and practicality. Unless we can make a major breakthrough, like a free energy technology that can generate massive amounts of energy without fuel, anti gravity and so on, we really should shelve these ideas, and work on doing things to save the only habitable planet we have and what is really the best one we have.

These sorts of adventures are popular for people who look at them in the same light as tight rope walks and so other stunts, thats what a trip to the moon or mars would be, a stunt, but any real scientists can tell you the return on investment for an unmanned probe is far better and they can get far more information for less money with those.

Re:Still an inefficient waste of money (2)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799679)

Money is not a limited resource.

That aside, what do you suggest we do when our perfect little ball of green and blue is threatened by something we have no control over? Wish we had "wasted" the money and gotten spread out, is my bet.

Re:Still an inefficient waste of money (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#38800029)

It makes sense that if these things are done to collaborate between the major nations of the earth. Why not include china as well, to pool resources, it will happen quicker, with rewards for everyone, and with more distributed cost.

Because China doesn't need US/Russia and can do it on its own?

Re:Still an inefficient waste of money (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 2 years ago | (#38800193)

If we are talking about scientific research, they provide a very poor return on investment compared to probes, we can launch thousands of probes for what it costs to launch a few people into space.

The cost of the Apollo program was $25.4 billion. Astronauts went to the moon to do research, plant flags, drop feathers, and hit golf balls. We had 11 manned missions (Apollo 7-17), 6 of which landed people on the Moon. We returned with 381 kg of moon rocks and dust for further research. That comes to a little under $67 million per kilogram. [wikipedia.org]

The estimated cost of the Soviet Union's Luna program was $4.5 billion. [wikipedia.org] There were 42-or-so Luna probes of which 21 achieved their mission objectives. These returned 0.326 kg of moon dust. That's a little under $14 billion per kilogram.

Robotic missions are definitely cheaper--I'm not sure anyone would argue that. The question is whether or not manned missions provide a better "return on investment"? If your return is "knowledge," I'm not convinced that's the case.

Just remember... (1)

wbr1 (2538558) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799173)

..."The Moon is a Harsh Mistress"
TANSTAAFL!!!!

I like this idea (4, Informative)

k6mfw (1182893) | more than 2 years ago | (#38799217)

Of course neither country has a strong infrastructure to build such an endeavour (they act like they do but it all looks pretty dismal). However, far better than discussions on building up missile bases aimed at each other (i.e. ABM site in Poland, Russia countering that with additional missiles).

Another to consider is Russians are essential for USA space program (and other way around). NASA was created because the Russians launched first satellite. Apollo program was created because the Russians launched first man in space. Shuttle was created because Russians still flying spaceships. ISS was created because we partnered with Russians (Space Station Freedom never got off the ground because no Russians involved). VSE, Obamaspace, SLS, and derivatives going nowhere because it has nothing to do with the Russians. Well there is the USAF space command, maybe they're still countering the Russians.

So if you are going to do a big space program... don't forget the Russians. Of course some will say don't forget Russian spies but so what else is new. If you are a country you gotta deal with spies, like server owners have to deal with spyware.

Re:I like this idea (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 2 years ago | (#38800057)

Yes, if there is to be a significant base on the Moon, all the current spacefaring and contributor nations need to partner up. Russia/NASA/ESA/Japan. Maybe even China. But you can stop fellating the Russians anytime now.

Re:I like this idea (2)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 2 years ago | (#38800185)

It would be interesting to see what the Russians and the Chinese could manage. If they were able to put their differences to one side and learn to trust (or at least work with) each other. The Russians have the heavy lift, the Chinese have the money. Both can put up manned missions.

If such an axis did emerge, I wonder with that would provide a sufficient boot up the arse to get the americans back into the game?

And we would find on the moon... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38799275)

A disk, a back flap, and a scorpion.

Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38799315)

In soviet russia... meh, I got nothing.

Re:Obligatory (1)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | more than 2 years ago | (#38800417)

It's a simple reversal. We've got "Man walks on moon."

So...

In Soviet Russian, moon walk on you!

Who pays? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38800137)

Gee, let me guess.

Money talks... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38800163)

...and those with the money won't shut up to let those who can actually make it happen do their work.

What happened to going to Mars? How much money have they already blown on that?

What happened to replacing the shuttle fleet? SpaceX isn't going to do so well if NASA funding gets redirected into a Moon project.

What happened to turning the ISS into something more than a scientific play thing? Eventually it will need maintenance/replacement.

What happened to staving off economic meltdown and looking after an increasingly impoverished working class? Education, health, housing, etc.

What happened to controlling the national debt that is spiraling out of control at over 15 trillion dollars and counting?

When politicians and bureaucrats say we're going back to the Moon... I say they're all full of shit and I'll believe it when I see it.

What's more likely to happen is Russia and China will collaborate on a new space station in orbit around Earth that will serve as their staging point for missions to the Moon, and Europe and the US will continue their gradual collapse into economic irrelevance.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?