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Self-Sufficient Lunar Habitat Designed

kdawson posted about 7 years ago | from the hydroponics-with-a-side-of-tilapia dept.

Space 284

An anonymous reader writes "Cosmos Magazine reports on a design for a lunar habitat that is 90 to 95 percent self-sufficient. The proposed habitat uses a closed-loop life support system that recycles and regenerates air, water, and food, reducing the need for costly supply trips. The north pole of the moon is chosen as a location because of its access to sunlight and useful resources. About 11 astronauts could live and work in the habitat for 2 to 3 years. The project would also help the environment on Earth with recycling and other sustainable practices." The designers say it could be 20 to 30 years before such a habitat could be up and running on the moon.

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In 20 or 30 years... (1, Funny)

ed.mps (1015669) | about 7 years ago | (#20916487)

...I'll, for one, welcome our new moon-based overlords

Re:In 20 or 30 years... (4, Funny)

Applekid (993327) | about 7 years ago | (#20916521)

Fine! I'm going to make my own moon habitat. With blackjack. And hookers. In fact, forget the whole moon habitat.

Re:In 20 or 30 years... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20916573)

But all their base belong to us!

HAW HAW HAW (0, Troll)

R00BYtheN00BY (1118945) | about 7 years ago | (#20916867)

dont use those shitty catchphrases again or I'll ban your ass back to gamefaqs

Re:In 20 or 30 years... (2, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | about 7 years ago | (#20916979)

...I'll, for one, welcome our new moon-based overlords

Is the moon a harsh mistress?

this first base belong to us!

Sweet! (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 7 years ago | (#20916527)

we can use it to save some of our planet's plants by creating a space "eden" to save from extinction.

will it have boxy looking robots that walk like midgets in garbage cans like the movie silent running http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0067756/ [imdb.com] did?

Re:Sweet! (1)

EMeta (860558) | about 7 years ago | (#20916585)

No. There is imminent danger of boring leftover inhabitants to death. I mean, have you seen the movie?

Re:Sweet! (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 7 years ago | (#20916607)

yes I have, it's horrid. utterly horrid.

Flesh Gordon had better plot twists and acting. (yes I said flesh not flash. look that one up on IMDB)

Re:Sweet! (1)

dpilot (134227) | about 7 years ago | (#20916899)

Seen both. I suppose you're right.

Lunar Agriculture Link (4, Informative)

StCredZero (169093) | about 7 years ago | (#20916967)

Here's a link on Lunar Agriculture

http://www.moonminer.com/Lunar_Food_Supply.html [moonminer.com]

An interesting proposal is to use sulfur lamps, which provide the needed frequencies for plants and are even more efficient than fluorescents. The 2 week lunar night can be bridged by many plants by lowering the temperature and providing a low level of artificial light for 16 hours in 24. (At about the level of an overcast day on Earth.)

Also, algae can be gown in the 2 week period when light is available, then used to feed animals (esp. fish).

Re:Lunar Agriculture Link (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | about 7 years ago | (#20917269)

For agriculture on the Dark Side of the Moon [tripod.com]

Why? (1, Interesting)

UnderDark (869922) | about 7 years ago | (#20916537)

Why would a person want to live on the moon? This is not meant as a troll, but the only reason a person would on the moon voluntarily (penal colony perhaps...) I can think of is to do research.

Because it's There (5, Interesting)

ivormi (1106139) | about 7 years ago | (#20916617)

You have to learn to walk before you can run. The moon presents a place where we can learn to create a self-sufficient habitat in a real situation. Before we try and establish ourselves on Mars or even interstellar, we need to prove we can live in space by camping in our own backyard, so to speak.

And if we do manage to get He3 fusion as a practical energy source, we can at least mine for that as a resource ;-)

Re:Because it's There (4, Interesting)

peragrin (659227) | about 7 years ago | (#20916765)

So why don't they set this up in the antartic, or death valley? prove that a closed air tight system can be viable and go from there? Biolab? or what ever was too much in a small space, they should try a simplier version of that.

Once it is working good, then go for the moon. by that point you will have found the way to make it small enough to fit on a rocket anyways.

Re:Because it's There (3, Informative)

JackMeyhoff (1070484) | about 7 years ago | (#20916847)

They did... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biosphere_2 [wikipedia.org]

Correction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20917289)

You probably meant: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bio-Dome [wikipedia.org] FTFY

Re:Because it's There (4, Funny)

ivormi (1106139) | about 7 years ago | (#20916891)

I don't think anyone's suggesting that the moon is the first step. I would expect that the 20-30 years of funding and research would absolutely include proving the concept on Earth first. Still, the moon becomes a logical stepping stone to interplanetary colonization and terraforming.

To sum:
1) Small closed habitat on earth
2) Test habitat on Moon
3) ???
4) Profit!

Where ??? becomes:
a) Colonize Mars
b) Open Lunar Real Estate Office
c) Mine for He3
d) Perform industrial espionage of the Google lunar offices

Re:Because it's There (2, Interesting)

cmowire (254489) | about 7 years ago | (#20916963)

Because you really want to know how algae and crops and stuff will do in lunar gravity for years and years.

Remember, cellular mitosis doesn't work well in freefall. It may or may not work better at lunar gravity.

Re:Because it's There (5, Interesting)

mOdQuArK! (87332) | about 7 years ago | (#20916905)

Aside from being able to get some raw materials from the surface of the Moon, it's actually more of a pain to put a colony on the Moon than it would be to build a space colony.

Even though its weaker than Earth's, you've still got that damn gravity well to climb down into & out of, you can't even change the "gravity" like you could in a space station, and you have to deal with all that damn dust which mucks up your machinery & gets into your lungs.

We'd learn a LOT more about living in space by building a fairly self-sufficient space colony, and have quite a few more options of where to put the colony & control over the living environment.

I think the point is pretty moot, though - I don't see either public or private sector with the will to expend the resources necessary to get such an ambitious project put together.

Frankly, short of a potential all-life-ending scare like an asteroid or massive plague, the bulk of humanity seems to have lost any motivation to expand out into space, and are more-or-less content to fight each other for resources until there won't be enough resources left to expand out into space on a large scale.

Re:Why? (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | about 7 years ago | (#20916627)

Research and vanity are pretty much the only reason to go at the moment. Even then, robotic missions can do a lot of the same things for a lot cheaper and much less risk.

Re:Why? (3, Funny)

Frequency Domain (601421) | about 7 years ago | (#20916633)

Lower gravity => less stress on heart + other parts that tend to sag.

Re:Why? (1)

Trigun (685027) | about 7 years ago | (#20916705)

The moon: The big, white pill.

Re:Why? (2, Funny)

steveo777 (183629) | about 7 years ago | (#20917049)

Does that mean that my email box is now going to be flooded with ways to get to the moon?

Re:Why? (1)

creimer (824291) | about 7 years ago | (#20916645)

If you're American, maybe because it's there, we're not there, and the Chinese might get there before us? That was the entire rationale for the Apollo program against the Russians.

Ask that again in 20-30 years (2, Insightful)

Nymz (905908) | about 7 years ago | (#20916651)

...when the planet is so overpopulated, that the one and only resource the moon has, space, will actually become valuable enough to justify the expense and trouble of living there.

REAL ESTATE IS A RESOURCE (1)

Nymz (905908) | about 7 years ago | (#20916881)

The poster asks why go to the moon, and what does the moon have that we don't have, and space is an answer. If you don't think real estate is valuable, then please tell us you think there is gold or water or whatever you think the moon has, and refrain from cowardly marking posts offtopic.

Someone please tell me that kdawson isn't abusing his infinite number of moderation points again.

Re:Why? (4, Insightful)

PieSquared (867490) | about 7 years ago | (#20916663)

For Science! No, but really. The moon is a great place for a few things - like a telescope. You can make a huge one that is always hidden from earth's interference. Also, if you have a place to stay anyway, long-term low gravity experiments. We know you get screwed up in microgravity, we know you do fine in full gravity. But what about a little gravity? We don't really know.

Also, geology. Study the moon itself. In preparation, perhaps, for later mining.

Also, so that you/your country wins.

Re:Why? (1)

PhxBlue (562201) | about 7 years ago | (#20916999)

The moon is a great place for a few things - like a telescope. You can make a huge one that is always hidden from earth's interference.

Which is good for radio telescopes, but for most of the others, I'd be more concerned about protecting them from the sun. :)

One thing they'll have to deal with, though, is moon dust. Apparently the stuff carries a static charge and is very finely ground ... will we have people with moon miner's disease 100 years from now?

low-G bounce (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | about 7 years ago | (#20917069)

Also, if you have a place to stay anyway, long-term low gravity experiments. We know you get screwed up in microgravity, we know you do fine in full gravity. But what about a little gravity?
You know what Heinlein said [wikipedia.org] about women on the moon, don't you? ;-)

Nah! (2, Funny)

StefanJ (88986) | about 7 years ago | (#20916667)

There will be plenty of cranky weirdos willing to volunteer. Just don't tell them that the latency of their Internet connections will be god-awful.

Just wait (5, Funny)

benhocking (724439) | about 7 years ago | (#20916735)

After a while, all of the geeks will live on the moon, and they'll take their servers with them. Then, you will be the one with the huge latency!

WOW (1)

Akaihiryuu (786040) | about 7 years ago | (#20916819)

Set up a WOW realm on the moon. Sure, internet connection with anything on Earth would have latency measured in 10's of seconds...but that's fine for web, IRC, IM, etc (everything but gaming). So the moon would just have its own dedicated realm(s). If they did that I'd go there.

Re:WOW (1)

swimin (828756) | about 7 years ago | (#20916907)

Latency of 10s of seconds is fine for realtime audio/video?

Re:WOW (1)

networkBoy (774728) | about 7 years ago | (#20917295)

Yes it is fine.
UDP drops packets that are out of sequence, so as long as you keep most of the frames in the right order, your stream will simply be delayed 10 seconds.
If you want bi-directional AV that is fine too, you will just have a total lag of 20s between when a question is asked and when the answer starts arriving.
-nB

Re:WOW (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 7 years ago | (#20917207)

Actually, lag time (round trip, moon and back) would be about 1000 milliseconds or so, give or take - call it 1500ms to give it a comfy total.

Speed of light each way: ~250ms, or ~500ms total there and back (IIRC)
Rough lag from satellite to earth-bound Internet line (including all the A/D conversion crap): 125ms each way, or 250ms total.
Avg. lag from land-line link to typical WOW server: 50-300ms, depending.

It would be about like playing Quake 3 on a 9400-baud modem against a bunch of LPB's.

'course, this doesn't count dropped packets and all that fun stuff, but look at it this way - at least you'll enjoy the chorus of "WTF!?" as they see your character nearly teleport his way across the landscape...

/P

Re:Why? (4, Insightful)

Cerberus7 (66071) | about 7 years ago | (#20916679)

To get away from Earth. Some say humanity, in its current form, is doomed to destroy itself. Being on another astronomical body would afford some protection from that, should we Earth-bound folks finally kick the bucket.

Some folks also crave being on the frontier, where everything is new. It's risky, but our species has made quite a living off of that particular trait.

Re:Why? (2, Funny)

Lumpy (12016) | about 7 years ago | (#20916691)

Why would a person want to live on the moon?

You have never lived in New Jersey have you.

Re:Why? (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | about 7 years ago | (#20916801)

Uh because you would be in the history books? The first moon colonists is a pretty big deal. Even if it requires a lot of personal sacrifice to live on the incredibly boring moon for an extended period of time, and detrimental to your health as well.

Re:Why? (2, Funny)

jpfed (1095443) | about 7 years ago | (#20916803)

Well, how else are the whalers going to get there?!?

Re:Why? (1)

Digital Vomit (891734) | about 7 years ago | (#20916863)

Why, for the whaling, of course!

Re:Why? (5, Insightful)

blhack (921171) | about 7 years ago | (#20916921)

Because its there. Because we have to look at it every night, and because there are people out there saying that we can't.

so fuck off.

Re:Why? (1)

ChrisA90278 (905188) | about 7 years ago | (#20917145)

Some people who have been to the moon say that the 1/6th G gravity their is more comfortable than either the Earth's 1 G or the zero G they experienced in free fall.

So in short, people might just like the moon.
I wouldn't because I could do much except stay indoors under the few meters of rock and rubble used to shield from solar radiation. But if I were the type who liked sitting inside a small room 24x7 with a computer or TV screen then the moon would be the place, It only the price were not a million dollars an hour.

I think the way to build a moon settlement is to first send a few mining robots to dig out a huge space maybe a mile under ground. Then you pressurize the space and put in lighting, plant grass and trees. Maybe in 500 years some one will build a retirement home like that for rich old folks.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20917267)

You're just not trying. By the time this idea does becomes a reality and the habitat is installed on the moon, you can kiss your tinfoil faked-moon-landing theories goodbye. In 10 or 20 years' time. we will have a reunion of the cast of the first ever Big Brother series, and we will finally get our wishes come true by sending them to another planet (just tell them the air will run out, so they better start eliminating). Toss in a couple of scientists and astronauts, but the ratings alone will drive ad revenue that will actually finance further space exploration. No, honey, this ain't your mama's Biodome.

Toss in Andy Dick; outside the aiirlock, please. He annoys me.

the north pole (4, Funny)

User 956 (568564) | about 7 years ago | (#20916543)

The north pole of the moon is chosen as a location because of its access to sunlight and useful resources.

Yes, and by "useful resources", they mean moon-elves.

Re:the north pole (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20916611)

That would explain your breezy short-shorts!

Re:the north pole (1)

stefanlasiewski (63134) | about 7 years ago | (#20916743)

Bah. Moon elves-- they take your cheese, work for 28 days, and quit.

Personally, I think the Once-in-a-Blue-Moon Elves are even more useful. They only switch jobs every 2.72 years. But they are hard to find.

*bzzt* Incorrect. (1)

B3ryllium (571199) | about 7 years ago | (#20916901)

You mean Whalers.

~/ We're whalers on the moon! We carry a harpoon! /~

Re:the north pole (1)

gzerphey (1006177) | about 7 years ago | (#20916947)

One word: Mooninites

Somewhere... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20916577)

...Pauly Shore is wondering if the time is now right for "Bio-Dome 2"

We've heard this before (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20916579)

The project is in some ways similar to the failed Biosphere 2 experiment, built in Arizona, U.S., in the late 1980s. Over an area of 12,000 m2, Biosphere housed a closed ecological system, incorporating a mini 'ocean' with coral reefs, as well as a grassland, desert, mangrove, rainforest and agricultural areas. Eight people survived in the habitat for two years, but a lack of food and low levels of oxygen hampered the experiment. Chartres detailed plans for a smaller, space-bound concept, dubbed Luna Gaia.

So, what are they doing different?

Re:We've heard this before (1)

Koreantoast (527520) | about 7 years ago | (#20916703)

Agreed. Particularly given the great "success" that Biosphere 2 was, leaving starving scientists at each others' throats while the biosphere around them came to a cataclysmic collapse.

Re:We've heard this before (1)

N3WBI3 (595976) | about 7 years ago | (#20917201)

The main problem with the biospehere is they tried to create an eden.. Coral? wth? They should have went 100% utilitarian then *maybe* it might have had a chance..

Re:We've heard this before (2, Insightful)

peragrin (659227) | about 7 years ago | (#20916823)

hopefully they are getting rid of the mini ocean, the coral reef, and the desert to concentrate on plants that produce O2, and food.

Biosphere to me was a waste of space. they tried to do too much in to little space. If they concetrated on say just the rainforest r just a group of plant bearing trees, they would have been a lot better off.

It was less about surviving out in space than it was a giant global warming experiment.

Man Grove !?! (1)

StressGuy (472374) | about 7 years ago | (#20916871)

That just hit me as really creepy...sort of a vampire/soylent green kinda vibe..

They're Sending Supermodels. (4, Funny)

CheeseburgerBrown (553703) | about 7 years ago | (#20917131)

They don't need food, and they hardly breathe.

No! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20916593)

I'll take the Earth, thanks.

90-95 % (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20916613)

Well that's a relief. And yes young lady, you're only 5% pregnant

So the human problem has been resolved ? (2, Interesting)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | about 7 years ago | (#20916615)

That, once 1 year on the moon, the human body would have become incapable of sustaining itself on earth ? Or has this little tidbit been conveniently ignored. We could send people there for long times, we are not capable of getting them back.

Going there, like Laika, is a one way ticket : no way back.

Re:So the human problem has been resolved ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20916729)

Maybe that's the 5-10% the isn't self-sustaining.

Re:So the human problem has been resolved ? (2, Insightful)

Loke the Dog (1054294) | about 7 years ago | (#20916829)

Yeah, all those astronauts who stayed on the moon for a year or more, where are they now? Dead, I tell you!

Muscle and bones can be trained much more easily than on ISS for example, since there is some gravity. Good old weight lifting and running (possibly with weights) will be possible on the moon. Walking and such might need retraining since astronauts might get used to skipping and jumping or whatever, but that's no big deal. So what is it that you think will happen?

Re:So the human problem has been resolved ? (1)

jsight (8987) | about 7 years ago | (#20917019)

Yeah, all those astronauts who stayed on the moon for a year or more, where are they now? Dead, I tell you!


Actually, they are non-existant. Noone stayed on the moon that long. :-)

Re:So the human problem has been resolved ? (2, Insightful)

cmowire (254489) | about 7 years ago | (#20916851)

Ah, but we don't know that for certain.

We know that coming down to Earth after a year in freefall sucks a big one. But we know nothing about how coming back from the Moon after more than a few days will work.

Also, having a reasonable sized colony of a few hundred that doesn't need too much more care other than being swapped out every few months so that nobody wastes away too much but doesn't require too much other logistical support is a useful thing.

Re:So the human problem has been resolved ? (1)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | about 7 years ago | (#20917133)

Yes we do, the russians have experimented heavily with this.

Exercise does not prevent the human body from destroying it's skeleton. It won't work. Furthermore if they aren't infected with the "new" human diseases like on earth their immune system will be dangerously affected.

Re:So the human problem has been resolved ? (1)

jdigriz (676802) | about 7 years ago | (#20917137)

Yes, and? I, for one, volunteer for permanent settlement, and I can find enough like-minded settlers for as many ships as Earth is likely to send. Let the day-trippers worry about going back to Earth.

With any luck (3, Funny)

faloi (738831) | about 7 years ago | (#20916655)

This news won't result in a resurgence of Pauly Shore movies.

Re:With any luck (1)

decipher_saint (72686) | about 7 years ago | (#20916971)

Rest assured, if there is a Bubble Pauly Shore is sure to cause trouble in it.

I'd send him to the moon, him and that Carrot Top, preferably for a loosely defined yet prolonged mission.

Re:With any luck (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | about 7 years ago | (#20917111)

This news won't result in a resurgence of Pauly Shore movies.
Thanks to cryogenics, he's the futures problem now!

COSMOs (1)

IamWasabi (981508) | about 7 years ago | (#20916665)

So, yeah, I read that first line to say that this came from Cosmo...I was confused. I agree with some of the above comments, I can't think of a reason to want to live on the moon, I would however, LOVE to vacation there for a week.

Soon we can ship all the niggers to the moon! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20916673)

Huzzah!

Cool...I guess (2, Insightful)

Cleon (471197) | about 7 years ago | (#20916683)

It's a cool idea, but I still remember being all excited about Biosphere 2 when I was a kid, and it turned out to be a colossal failure.

I'm glad they've got a design, but are they planning on actually testing it? This is not the sort of thing you just build and hope it works. I mean, at least a working model would be something.

Re:Cool...I guess (1)

cmowire (254489) | about 7 years ago | (#20916911)

At least these folks are honest that it's only 90-95% reliant. Were Biosphere 2 to have gone for the 90% case, they would have been a resounding success..

'cept they wouldn't have sounded nearly so impressive.

Re:Cool...I guess (3, Informative)

nuzak (959558) | about 7 years ago | (#20916917)

> I still remember being all excited about Biosphere 2 when I was a kid, and it turned out to be a colossal failure.

A failure as a colony or a failure as an experiment? I'd say they collected plenty of specific data on what went wrong, and by extension, what's wrong with current designs for closed habitats.
 

Re:Cool...I guess (2, Insightful)

Loke the Dog (1054294) | about 7 years ago | (#20917247)

There is a very big difference here: In Biosphere 2, the plan was to not import ANYTHING. In this case, its just a matter of reducing imports. Biosphere would probably have gone much better if they were allowed to import 100 kg every 6 months or something like that. For this reason, it can't fail like Biosphere 2. If they fail to grow enough food or if they need some other product, the only problem is that earth has to pay for more supplies.

Besides, building a self sustainable base on the moon IS the test. On the moon, supplies can arrive within days. On mars or other bodies, supplies might take months or even years. Now, as for the reasons this can't be done on earth? Well, there are a number of them, but the biggest one is that tax payers are probably more willing to pay NASA for doing important research on the moon than they are to pay NASA for doing important research on earth, even if the former is much more expensive.

Screw that! (1, Troll)

sharkey (16670) | about 7 years ago | (#20916709)

I'll make my own Lunar habitat, with blackjack! And hookers!

Son of a gun! (1)

bwcbwc (601780) | about 7 years ago | (#20916725)

It's Bio-Dome 2!

Where's Pauly Shore when you need him? The sooner we put him on the moon, the better for movie-goers everywhere.

Where have I seen this before... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20916763)

Rememeber BioSphere (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biosphere_2)

Remind me to take this seriously when somebody has made it work here on earth where it should be easy compared to the moon.

Russians Used Lunar Day / Night Cycles (4, Informative)

StCredZero (169093) | about 7 years ago | (#20916779)

I read somewhere that the Russians did experiments with growing plants with 2 weeks of sunlight followed by 2 weeks of relative darkness at low temperature. (Not lunar nighttime temperature, but above freezing.) It seems that there are plants can acclimatize to such conditions. (In particular, peas.) They remain dormant and are able to survive for the 2 weeks when the temperature is lowered less light is available, then continue growing. Using specially tuned LEDs, we could provide the interim power for the 2 weeks "economically." (Relatively speaking. NASA contractors would probably charge million$!)

Here's some folks in New Zealand doing experiments [asi.org] that simulate lunar agriculture. There are many papers related to lunar agriculture [purdue.edu] as well.

Re:Russians Used Lunar Day / Night Cycles (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20916845)

part of being self sustaining is having electricity and heat during those dark 2 weeks. at the north pole you can have both with solar collectors and PV arrays.

Granted the cheapest is building a Nuclear reactor up there first. But the Eco freaks will whine like newborns.

we need more russians (2, Funny)

blhack (921171) | about 7 years ago | (#20916783)

Why is it that we had our first flight in 1903, 36 years later we exploded our first atomic bomb, 25 yeras after that we had a man in space, and only 8 years after that we had human beings on the moon. In the last 38 years what have we done? Why couldn't we put a man on the moon 9 months from now if we needed to? 30 YEARS to get this base going? If we started developing technology at the rate we were 100 years ago, we should have home based cold fusion reactors in 30 years! We should have near light-speed travel in 30 years! We should have mastered matter/energy conversion in 30 years!!!

screw this job, i'm going back to school for physics....oh, wait.

Re:we need more russians (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20917007)

Why is it that we had our first flight in 1903, 36 years later we exploded our first atomic bomb, 25 yeras after that we had a man in space, and only 8 years after that we had human beings on the moon. In the last 38 years what have we done? Why couldn't we put a man on the moon 9 months from now if we needed to? 30 YEARS to get this base going? If we started developing technology at the rate we were 100 years ago, we should have home based cold fusion reactors in 30 years! We should have near light-speed travel in 30 years! We should have mastered matter/energy conversion in 30 years!!! How about sequenced the human genome and spread the WWW so that dumb-asses can try to sound smart with glib ill-thought-through comments.

Re:we need more russians (1)

blhack (921171) | about 7 years ago | (#20917167)

yeah, i suppose your right..we've created all sorts of WONDERFUL things like:
cable tv!
satelite tv!
satelite radio!
FM stereo RADIO!
HDTVs!!!
teledildonics!
halo3!
CELLPHONES!!!!
SECOND LIFE!!!!!

the spread on the WWW? any slashdot nerd with his/her salt should know that tcp/ip has existed since the 70s. THAT was the revolution and it happened 30 years ago. The fact that you can now use that creation to display all sorts of colorful images on your monitor means NOTHING! And the network has only come because people turned it into a business and started laying fiber all over the place.

So, while your ability to watch youtube videos is pretty cool, I would definitely NOT put it next to achievements like nuclear power.

Re:we need more russians (1)

r_jensen11 (598210) | about 7 years ago | (#20917229)

What have we been doing in the last 38 years? Not a whole lot. But we also have this little bit of trouble here: We have limited resources for science (the main being time. Monetary problems can be sorted out easily if we wanted,) and with the lack of any real space threat in the near-future, our scientists have been busy going off and doing research for things other than space exploration. Sure, we got the Hubble up in the sky, along with the International Space Station, but those were basically created "for the sake of science." We've never really done too much risky science "for the sake of science." And for a good reason: we value human life. So in the past 38 years, we've been working, primarily, on how to increase efficiency, be it through either maintaining current performance while using less resources, increasing performance while holding resources constant, or a combination of the two. Plus, equipment that goes in to space has to be significantly more robust than the equipment we use on Earth, primarily because it's so much more inconvenient to replace/repair something in space than it is on the ground. That's why the microprocessors that Honeywell uses in their satellite equipment and such is always a few generations slower than the stuff Intel, IBM, and AMD are pumping out.

But I do agree that we have had our priorities out of whack for a long time now. What I don't get is why we don't really have an interest in deep sea exploration and research. I'd really expect us to have an underwater habitat before we bother making one on another satellite or planet. In addition to researching stuff that is (arguably) more relevant to our lives, it doesn't take long at all to travel a few miles via an elevator or whatever compared to thousands or millions of miles with a space ship. Hell, the whole trip could take a fraction of the preparation time of launching a rocket or a shuttle.

Re:we need more russians (2, Insightful)

moore.dustin (942289) | about 7 years ago | (#20917281)

You limited your scope to manned space exploration/environments for advancement, but used the whole range of past advancements as your example of past progress.

In fact, you are quite mistaken. In the past 30 years, we have not had any major human engineering feats (for example: Shuttles, satellites, ISS, etc.) compared to the previous decades leading up to the lunar landings. Instead, we have integrated technology and scientific advancements into new space age. Products of this are ever present in our everyday lives. From GPS and weather forecasts to discoveries of black holes, dark matter, the processes which power our Sun and every other star. While you do not translate these to significant advancements, I certainly do. Only in recent decades have we been able to see, gather data, and learn about objects in deep space. I would like to see Spirit and Opportunity as major successes as well as the current progress being made in our search for life in our own solar system.

There perspective we have gained through these advancements has splintered funding into numerous different fields. Where back in the 60's we knew much less about our universe which limited the amount of things we would want to spend money on doing, like landing on the moon. Today though, you find people wanting to spend money on proving super massive black holes exist, monitoring our own Suns magnetic fields, and searching for life on other planets.

Does that mean... (1)

shdowhawk (940841) | about 7 years ago | (#20916791)

... that we're getting close to publicly releasing a coffee machine that you pee into and it brews fresh coffee from it!?

Re:Does that mean... (1)

east coast (590680) | about 7 years ago | (#20916833)

We have that today. Well, that is if "fresh brewed coffee" tastes like "pee" in your mind.

Being a non-coffee kinda person... I think it does.

Re:Does that mean... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20916929)

... that we're getting close to publicly releasing a coffee machine that you pee into and it brews fresh coffee from it!?
You might say we have that already, but if my boss ever finds out about it I am so fired.

this article misses several points: (4, Interesting)

cmowire (254489) | about 7 years ago | (#20916799)

1) NASA "ought" to be researching stuff like this... because they are going to need it in 20 years or so. But projects like this have been getting de-funded to pay for the Orion capsule (which, I might add, is in trouble -- it's too heavy and they are trying to make it lighter by removing redundancy and capabilities instead of trying to do things like remove a crew member or switching the first stage away from a 5-segment SRB)
2) This is fairly easy to test on earth. Except for the whole question about how well algae will reproduce in lunar gravity. The ISS was supposed to research these kinds of problems but the module that would have done this research is not going up.
3) "90-95%" self-sufficient is probably a pointless task to try and do all at once. It's probably far simpler to just add extra sufficiency over time so that you don't get nasty biosphere-two-ish surprises.

Gravity well (5, Insightful)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | about 7 years ago | (#20916809)

Settling in a gravity well is just stupid. I understand the romance of "living on another world", but just the health difficulties are incredibly hard to solve, along with Lunar nights (I know they want the north pole). The practical difficulties are insane. Will plants grow well in 1/6th gravity? Who knows?

If you want settle off-planet, the reasonable course is to build a big spinning space station. Yes, the engineering is difficult, but nowhere near the problems of building on the moon, and you can build it closer to earth. You get perpetual, consistent sunlight for power, artificial gravity. You can do zero gravity experiments by setting up labs at the hub, which you can't do on the moon. And doing an emergency escape capsule would be way easier than having to launch off the moon.

Why NASA is still talking about going to the moon is beyond me. We should be doing missions to near-earth asteroids to see if the materials would be useful for building large space stations, and experimenting with robotically producing I-Beams.

Re:Gravity well (2, Insightful)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | about 7 years ago | (#20917077)

Settling in a gravity well is just stupid... If you want settle off-planet, the reasonable course is to build a big spinning space station.

It is not stupid, it is a trade-off. Sure it is a gravity well, but a weak one that is not hard to overcome. That is in exchange for access to raw material for building things. Tunneling into the moon or using the material to build structures is a lot more practical than going to the expense of lifting every bit of material needed out of earth's gravity well. The moon is not a perfect site but it seems like a reasonable baby step to me, before we look at building a space station somewhere useful, like the asteroid belt.

Re:Gravity well (2, Informative)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | about 7 years ago | (#20917221)

That is in exchange for access to raw material for building things. Tunneling into the moon or using the material to build structures is a lot more practical than going to the expense of lifting every bit of material needed out of earth's gravity well.

Whatever advantage there is to the raw material is more than overwhelmed by the practical difficulties of dust and the temperature swings, just for starters. The moon is an incredibly harsh environment -- much harsher than space itself.

The moon is not a perfect site but it seems like a reasonable baby step to me, before we look at building a space station somewhere useful, like the asteroid belt.

That's the problem... it's not a baby step, it's a gargantuan step. Doing a space station is the baby step. Why do you think we have an ISS (as pathetic as it is), and not a moon base at this point?

Hell, forget I-Beams. Send up an inflatable a la Bigelow (which is based on NASA technology that he bought). Why people think the moon is easy compared to the other options is beyond my understanding. It's the *hardest* option.

Re:Gravity well (3, Informative)

Scrameustache (459504) | about 7 years ago | (#20917211)

Re:Gravity well (1)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | about 7 years ago | (#20917279)

These guys, maybe? Ronald J. Anderson, Thomas M. Crabb, John G. Frank, Steven M. Guetschow, Jeffrey T Iverson, Olaf Meding, Robert C. Morrow, E. Don Peissig, Ross W Remiker, Robert C. Richter, David Smith, Jon D. Van Roo, Anton G. Vermaak, and John C. Vignali of Orbital Technologies Corp. for Kennedy Space Center.

That's microgravity, not low gravity. Different problem, and even if it was similar, we still don't have very much information.

Or anyone with access to a working clinostat, really.

Erm, that only works for cells, for obvious reasons.

Biosphere 2 (1)

ultranova (717540) | about 7 years ago | (#20916841)

Seeing how the project to build a self-sufficient sealed habitat on Earth ran into some unexpected difficulties [wikipedia.org] , I'd strongly suggest postponing lunar habitats until one has been run at least a full year on Earth. After all, if there's some nasty surprises waiting, it's better to find them when safety is a few dozen meters, rather than 400 000 kilometers, away.

Re:Biosphere 2 (1)

dpilot (134227) | about 7 years ago | (#20916925)

Agreed. Besides, we could drop a few of these on the very worst places on Earth, and they'd most likely (Well, not in an active volcano, the pressure limitations of the ocean bottom, etc.) be a cake-walk compared to the moon.

Oxymoron (2, Insightful)

Snowgen (586732) | about 7 years ago | (#20916927)

Isn't "90 to 95 percent self-sufficient" another way of saying "Not self-sufficient"?

mmm... (1)

dstiggy (1145347) | about 7 years ago | (#20916983)

Recycles food. (I don't even want to know)

Re:mmm... (3, Funny)

frodo527 (614767) | about 7 years ago | (#20917255)

Soylent Brown.

Anything which is '20-30 years away' ... (4, Insightful)

N3WBI3 (595976) | about 7 years ago | (#20917041)

... is pretty worthless; in 30 years our tech will have, hopefully, seriously evolved. In 30 years the earths political systems and power balance could be totally different. If you cant do it in ten years change your focus to something else. I think this is a great idea but giving something this much time is the ultimate form of procrastination. There is *no* reason they cant have this well in the works in a decade. If the money is not there well then put it on the shelve and come up with something people will pay to research.

Biosphere 3 (2, Interesting)

OglinTatas (710589) | about 7 years ago | (#20917057)

Send Pauly shore up there.

OK, now the serious part: biosphere 2 probably wouldn't have been the joke that it was on the talk shows if the stated goal of the program was to find out just how sustainable it could be with then state of the art engineering and technology, rather than completely seal it for 2 years and see what happens.

As it turns out, it wasn't 100% sustainable, and they did have to "cheat" which caused endless laughs. Serious science did come out of it, but who remembers any? One thing I remember that was interesting, and in retrospect should have been obvious, was that then ants they brought aboard for typical ant ecological duties _could_not_be_controlled. Duh. Everywhere but where they were supposed to be, getting into everything but what they were supposed to be doing. (When I was in California this summer, I encountered ants small enough to invade (unsealed) jars of peanut butter with the lids screwed down). Another thing was the inefficiency of their oxygen cycle. I think that was the ultimate reason they popped the hatches.

They would have been better off had they sealed up, did a progress report every 1 or two months, and replaced/modified any technology or systems that were not performing as well as planned. And brought the orkin man in.

Even so, I am assuming that these people learned from biosphere 2, and that their 95% sustainability has some basis in fact. But will it be 95% sustainable on the moon? It will be a disaster if you get there, set it up and find out it is only 60% sustainable, and the materials you hoped to mine on the moon are not as easily obtainable as you hoped.

No doubt any such venture should have a lifeboat in orbit and an ascending vehicle.

Oblig. (5, Insightful)

cthulu_mt (1124113) | about 7 years ago | (#20917061)


TANSTAAFL*
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