Comments: I've Been Waiting For This For Decades

So NASA plans to head back there around 2020?

At least they'll have a Starbucks and a McDonalds waiting for them when they get there. And they'll be able to buy a Pepsi or a Coke and visit the "SpaceShipOne" museum.

Private enterprise, yo.

Ian

Posted by Ian at December 5, 2006 09:19 PM

I've gotta say, aside from the coolness factor of having a moon base....

why?

Posted by Mad William Flint at December 6, 2006 09:05 AM

Mad William-that's actually a fair question. The answer, as given by Larry Niven in one of his stories (if I recall correctly, it was one of his Gil the ARM stories), is, "Abstract Knowledge."

In this story, a 200+ year old gentleman, a detective (I think) who's confined to a wheelchair, even on the moon (the nerves in his legs just up and died), who, upon hearing that question and gives that answer, asks the questioner why he has a restaurant on the moon.

The questioner answers, "It's obvious! Low or no gravity for physics classes! Pure vacuum for growing pure crystals! Magnetic monopoles!" and a whole list of other things that are unique to Niven's universe. In fact, the questioner wouldn't be able to walk in Earth gravity and the radiation treatments he's rec'd on the moon saved his life...or something like that. "It's obvious!" he concludes, then Niven has the questioner look at the detective's wheelchair and atrophied legs, then he remembers the old man's age.

"Wasn't it?" the questioner asks, and the story ends.

My point is--and I think this was Mr. Niven's point, too--is we won't know what we're looking for till we go there and look for it.

And personal to Ted: That banner is borderline NSFW. Heh.

Posted by Victor at December 6, 2006 12:56 PM

Mad William, think of the moon as dress rehearsal for Mars. It's a bleak environment and we have limited knowledge of what's really there (beyond a few acres of explored surface).

It's cheaper and easier to learn as many of the gotcha's in space exploration as you can when you're only in earth orbit as opposed to travelling all the way to Mars before discovering that you needed to bring extra socks.

I also believe that it'll ultimately be less expensive to explore the rest of our solar system from the moon. Rather than launching robot probes and expeditions from the deep gravity well of Earth, we can launch them easier from the moon. Tasks are greatly simplified by having dirt under your feet as well, which is my response to folks who want to do everything from orbit.

I think India will be the second nation to put men on the moon, but when they get there, the kebab shops will be competing with well-established McDonalds.

Victor, I very carefully selected and cropped that banner photo. :)

Posted by Ted at December 6, 2006 05:40 PM

So, the beginnings of "Space 1999" are under way.

Posted by Maelstrom at December 7, 2006 11:19 AM
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