back to article Russia and NASA plan to COLONISE the Moon

Russian, American and European space agencies are in talks to create a human colony on the Moon, according to Russian news source Rianovosti. MOON_STATION Artist's impression of the Moon station from Nasa's Global Exploration Roadmap Russia wants to build either a space base on the surface of the Moon itself or a space …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm not holding my breath

    I'm also going to hold onto my copies of Galaxy and If. Its as close to space travel as I'm going to get without recreational pharmaceuticals....pity.

  2. jubtastic1

    Moonbase Alpha?

    Strikes me that the far side of the moon would be an ideal place to dump spent nuclear fuel as well.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      I like the Space 1999 reference, I also utterly agree. But luckly we dont have space flight utterly perfected enough to start doing that seriously, but when that day comes. Be interesting times.

    2. Colin Millar

      If you get it into space

      Why wouldn't you just fire it into the sun?

      1. Greg J Preece

        You know guys, I'm not sure Jubs was being entirely serious...

      2. Joe Cooper

        The Sun

        The Sun's very expensive to reach. Once in orbit you need about 29 km/s delta-v to get down there. Could be easy with Solar-electric or -sail, though.

      3. Alfred

        Expensive, difficult and dangerous

        Because that would be expensive, difficult and dangerous.

        The following courtesy of the gorgeous RobotRollCall of Reddit fame.

        "The Earth is in orbit around the sun. That means the Earth, and everything on it, is moving through space at about seventy thousand miles an hour. In order to drop something into the sun, you'd have to bring it to what is effectively a dead stop in space, which means accelerating it from rest to seventy thousand miles an hour going in the direction opposite the Earth's orbital motion.

        That's twice the velocity necessary to fling something out of the solar system entirely. Now, we have launched a rocket to solar escape velocity before, about 35,000 miles an hour … but only once in all of human history, and doing so required a custom-assembled rocket and more than two hundred million US dollars, and the total payload was still only about a thousand pounds. And that's half of what we'd have to do, in terms of total velocity, to fire a payload of the same size into the sun … and rockets don't scale linearly with final velocity but rather exponentially, meaning the cost of putting a thousand-pound payload into the sun would probably be on the order of a billion US dollars, not counting the up-front R&D costs.

        And did I mention that spent nuclear fuel is among the densest stuff on our planet? A cubic foot of the stuff weights more than a thousand pounds — 1,189 pounds, to be precise.

        "Purely financial" doesn't even begin to cover it. To put any useful amount of the stuff into the sun would literally cost more than the total amount of money in the whole world."

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          space, you wont be going there for a long time.

          Good job . Sadly people aint interested in the cold hard facts judging by the various references to holywood drivel.

        2. Bronek Kozicki
          Thumb Up

          I think this is incorrect

          "In order to drop something into the sun, you'd have to bring it to what is effectively a dead stop in space"

          I think "dead stop" is not required. It would drop, eventually, if the speed is below Sun's escape velocity, so it's just enough to "throw it behind" in Earth orbit. No?

          Apart from that I agree that would be quite silly and expensive endeavour.

          1. Alfred

            I'm afraid not.

            "It would drop, eventually, if the speed is below Sun's escape velocity, so it's just enough to "throw it behind" in Earth orbit. No?"

            No. That would simply be a different orbit. An orbit known to intersect Earth's orbit.

    3. Blofeld's Cat

      Don't forget you will also need an unlimited supply of Eagle spacecraft.

      1. S Watts


        Now, if only they used the Eagles as their design - coolest ships ever!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          Personally I think I wouldn't be too embarrassed if I rocked up next to an orbiting Eagle in the Liberator. That was a damn cool ship.

    4. Poor Coco

      A better plan for "spent" nuclear fuel

      would be to convert into energy the 99.3% (for CANDU reactors) or 99.5% (for light-water reactors) of the fuel which remains behind, by burning it in a thorium reactor.

      I mean, really? Taking 600,000 tons of fuel (just counting the US supply) to THE FAR SIDE OF THE MOON? Seriously, that is a terrible idea.

    5. Gav

      Fall Out

      You really think it's a good idea to place nuclear waste on top of a big rocket and fire it into the air, on route to the moon?

      Cos there's nothing that could go horribly, catastrophically wrong with that idea, is there?

    6. Greg 16

      Once you've got it into Space, why would you dump it onto our own moon, rather than out into the universe, or maybe into the sun?

    7. admiraljkb

      Moonbase Alpha

      Sorry, that one's taken.

      Moonbase Beta. :)

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Interesting, but one detail overlooked

    Now given the history of the International Space Station and the objections that prevented China from joining in and going of to build there own space station. This along with China's announced plans to build a moon base. I have to ask, are we seeing the very early stages of a new `cold` war America+Russian and chums vs China. Still, it'd competition as they say and if they end up playing each other at a game of football, then I realy can't see this ending badly.

    Moral being you can have a butterfly flap it's wings and cause a tornado the otherside of the World. But you can build a massive moon base and have absolutly no impact on the moons orbit,rotation and as such no effect at all upon the tides of the planet below.

    All I want to know now is will we get epic TV days watching a moon base being built, just like the early day veiwing enthusiasim of the early space flight. I think we might.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      watching a moon base being built

      Now THAT would be a webcam worth watching :)

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Moving the Mountain .....

        Phil O'Sophical,

        Create a modern population for planetary seeding on Earth, in a Mirror Base Station for Lunar Operations.

        What would you build on the Moon ....... a temporary structure or a work of future art. And when built on Earth, would it be a Universal Progress Model

        1. MrT
          Big Brother

          Lunar Industries base "Sarang" staffing manifest...

          ...first occupant: Sam Bell

          ...second occupant: Sam Bell

          ...third occupant: Sam Bell

          ...fourth occupant: Sam Bell

          ...fifth occupant: Sam Bell

          ...sixth occupant: Sam Bell

          Come in number six, your three-year contract is over.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      TV show?

      More importantly, can we please hold "Celebrity Big Brother" or "I'm a (C-List) celebrity, get me out of here" in this new base, with the weekly loser(s) being cast outside the base (without protection, of course). That might just get me to watch.

      1. E 2


        Just unilaterally throw the tabloid-cover celebrities into outer space, skip the reality TV show, and I won't worry about it.

  4. Pete the not so great
    Thumb Up

    When does the first

    Starbucks and MacD's open?

    1. Ian Yates

      I'm pretty sure it'll be a Domino's:

    2. hplasm


      too soon.

    3. Jean-Luc

      Pan Am will be doing the flying when the base opens.

      (need a black monolith icon, not just X Files stuff)

  5. Hilmi Al-kindy

    Give the Russians a break

    You keep on rubbing it into their noses the Phobos grunt (not sure of the spelling) failure, but the fact is that Russia has done pretty good with space craft. Soyuz is considered the most reliable means of space travel. Look it up! Give them some breathing room, everybody messes up every once in a while and in space travel, the mess ups tend to either cost a lot money or people die. That's how it was when people started to explore the earth by sea.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      'the mess ups tend to either cost a lot money or people die. That's how it was when people started to explore the earth by sea' ...

      Sadly that's still the case in certain parts of Italy.

      Aircraft occasionally have a sudden tendency to stop defying gravity too.

      And cars can occasionally collide.

      Even horses have been known to squash people and don't get me started on skateboards!

      (broken arm 1977)

      1. Piers

        broken arm 1977...

        No way - me too!

        Those were the days...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        But then

        I took an arrow in the knee...

        (ducks to avoid a further arrow in the eye)

    2. Beachrider

      Give the Russians credit, but...

      It is impossible to ignore Russia's commitment to space travel. It is quite a source of pride for those people. The biggest issue with the spacecraft is that there have only-been incremental improvements over such a long time period. Soyuz has cut a unique niche in the manned-transfer-to-LEO market. No one has their numbers in successful launches.

      In comparison, look at the changes in interplanetary robotic exploration. It has grown more-advanced in leaps-and-bounds. Although the failure of Fobos-Grunt has yet to complete a root-cause-analysis, the French pictures of a 180-degree-off-axis craft paints a picture of internal failure. Along with the recent issues with ISS supply craft, this could be a sign of transition from the proud Russian attention-to-detail in their spacecraft business.

      I hope that they 'fix' whatever is broken in Roscosmos. It is a unique asset to the world.

  6. A. Lewis

    About bloomin' time.

    Here we are in the year 2012, and nary a moonbase to be seen! Sci-fi writes throughout the 20th Century must've been tutting over mankind's sluggishness in this oft-predicted area.

    1. MacroRodent

      Tut tut

      "tutting over mankind's sluggishness in this oft-predicted area."

      Just tut them back! A few months ago I reread the A C Clarke story "Earthlight" from 1955 where at one point an astronomer on a moon-based observatory (about 150 years from now) watches a colleague developing photographic plates, and muses that photography will always involve such chemical magic. Later in the story we visit the observatory's computer, which is room-sized and still gets its data via punched cards....

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        "muses that photography will always involve such chemical magic"

        Really? What an odd mistake to make, considering that television was already well established by 1955.

        1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

          Making CMOS and CCD chips for digital cameras still does

          Chemical magic is still needed, but not the way Arthur C. Clarke knew it.

          I will still raise a pint to him. He has more imagination than most of us.

  7. hugo tyson

    Water and free electricity the lunar poles; constant sunshine, and huge temperature gradients for thermoelectric too, so long as you turn the equipment slowly...

  8. GeorgeTuk

    Sounds like a BBC article... in we will all be dead by the time they get round to it but we're going to report it anyway for clicks.

  9. Blofeld's Cat

    On arrival...

    The US and Russian colonists will be able to just pop across the crater for a Chinese Take-away or something from Musk's Cheese Shop.

    Or if they prefer Sushi...

  10. b166er

    Considering the cost, what's the return?

    What is on the moon that makes it worth inhabiting?

    1. Bronek Kozicki

      Helium 3?

      Might allow fusion energy from this source to eventually take off

      Apart from that it could just make sense as a "space port" for launching rockets for further endeavors, with much less fuel spent to escape Moons gravity. Especially if said fuel could be mined locally.

      1. DayDragon
        Thumb Up

        I'd certainly agree with the building and launching of rockets from the moon due to it's lowered gravity but not the mining.

        The Moon is too important to Earth to start mining it, however as a launch platform for other mining vessels.

        The main thing would be the NEW research that could be done in laboratories on the moon in low gravity or perhaps in zero-g lab orbiting the moon?

        We could finally work on intergalactic space travel drive systems

        1. Filippo Silver badge

          What do you mean, the Moon is too important to mine? I mean, I can think of a half dozen reasons behind that assertion, and all of them make me laugh, but I'd like to know which one is yours.

          1. DayDragon

            Go on then, you tell me your reasons that "make you laugh" and i'll tell you if they match my objections

      2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: Especially?

        I think you mean *only* if both payload and fuel are mined (harvested, whatever) locally.

    2. brym


      telescope arrays on the dark side of the moon, and launching points for mars and mining the asteroids would be a good start.

      1. Poor Coco

        "The dark side"?

        The "dark side" of the moon is no darker than the other side, it simply faces away from Earth. That would be advantageous for radio astronomy, but that's it. OTOH, having zero atmosphere means the most you need to do to eliminate the interference of the sun is to use a shade or occlusion disc, and you would have no need for fancy adaptive optics. OTOOH, you would still need vibration isolation that an orbiting 'scope would not.

    3. TeeCee Gold badge

      An infinite supply of free cheese?

      1. melt

        the moon is *not* infinite!

    4. hplasm

      No other people.

      See title.

  11. Matthew 17

    Fly the ISS to the Moon

    NASA was on about bolting a big booster to the side of the ISS so that they could get it out of orbit and fly it to Mars, why not just drive it over to the Moon first?

    1. Kamira

      I think it has something to do with withstanding the radiation further away from the earth's magnetic field.

      1. Mike Flugennock

        Not just radiation, but...

        Not only are there radiation environment issues, but also the fact that ISS wasn't built to handle the range of dynamic stresses* involved in accelerating out of Earth orbit and then decelerating into lunar orbit -- not to mention the constant reboosts and orbital correction manuvers once there owing to the oddly distributed "mascons" (mass concentrations) in the moon which make maintaining a stable orbit more difficult.


        *To get an idea of what happens during an orbital reboost firing aboard ISS, check out NASA's YouTube channel and watch some of the video shot by bracket-mounted cameras inside the ship when the engines light...

        "shakin' aalll-lll oooo-oooooverrr-rrrrrrr...!"

  12. Anonymous Coward


    "We don’t want the man to just step on the Moon,”

    And what about the woman ?

    1. kryptonaut


      Not to worry, I think the man has already walked all over the woman.

    2. Nathanial Wapcaplet

      Women on the moon? About time...

      ... the place is thick with dust!

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's my Moon too

    Shouldn't we all get a say in what happens up there? Visiting it is one thing, making plans for it is another entirely.

    1. Blofeld's Cat

      Don't Panic...

      All the plans will be put on display at your local planning office in Alpha Centauri.

      1. Swoop

        "All the plans will be put on display at your local planning office in Alpha Centauri" a locked filing cabinet in a dark cellar with a sign on the door saying "beware of the leopard"

  14. Peter Gordon

    I reckon they should call it

    "Moonunit Zappa"

  15. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

    Who's going to be first... dig up Tyco crater.


    Boom-boom boom-boom boom-boom boom-boom.

    1. Local Group

      And expose the large black monolith?

      Dave Bowman: Hello, HAL. Do you read me, HAL?

      HAL: Affirmative, Dave. I read you.

      Dave Bowman: Open the pod bay doors, HAL, I really have to pee bad. Oh, boy.

      HAL: Why didn't you bring a bottle, Dave?

      1. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

        HAL: Why didn't you bring a bottle, Dave?

        Dave: because I didn't think I would be playing warcraft.

  16. ravenviz Silver badge

    And the point is...

    Really they should be a bit more specific of *why* they want to colonise the Moon.

    All I can think of are either:

    a) reasons of discovery e.g. manned telescopes, or

    b) betterment of human existance which could be:

    i) exploitation of resources (helium-3, wealth); or

    ii) exploitation of environment (e.g. microgravity for therapies, development of medicine).

    iii) waste management (bad idea)

    It was fine to go to the Moon "because it is there" in the 70's but now it needs a revised mandate.

    Penal colony anyone?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Penal colony anyone?"

      Use a nit comb and remember to wash all your bedding.

    2. Anonymous John

      "Earth is too small a basket for mankind to keep all its eggs in." Robert A. Heinlein

    3. Filippo Silver badge

      Launching rockets from the Moon would be a whole lot easier, so it's a stepping-stone to Mars, which could actually be conceivably colonized.

      Colonizing Mars is a good idea because, well, either we do that or we die. It's just a matter of time. That said, it's not exactly urgent - but then again, when I start saying that something isn't urgent, I always end up not doing it until it becomes urgent...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I said that too

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I have a certificate stating my claim to one square metre of the lunar surface, trespassers will be roughed up accordingly on return to earth.


    1. ElReg!comments!Pierre

      And so it begins again

      Damn English, boggarting the fertile moon lands and leaving the rest of us with only the inhospitable moon-moors...

  18. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    So is the War on Galactic Terror called off?

    The 19 trillion actual debt paid?

    The 200 trillion uncovered welfare costs suddenly covered?


    Forget this shit.

    1. Poor Coco

      And keep up the terrrorism bullshit?

      see title, dumbass.

    2. oddie
      Thumb Up

      and yet..

      if only we would be willing to sacrifice several kinds of food... clothing, recreational travel, televisied entertainment, hygiene products, hot water and decorative but useless jewelry I'm sure this (I assume american) debt could be paid off in a mere few years? :)

    3. hplasm
      Thumb Down

      It's not real money.

      So why not forget about that unimportant shit?

  19. cnapan

    What happens when the toilet breaks down?

    It's bad enough getting a plumber in London...

  20. Christoph

    Base, not colony

    They seem to be talking about a lunar base, with personnel having short tours of duty. A colony would imply people living there permanently and having children there.

    By the way, although we know that humans have long-term problems in 'zero' gravity, has any research been done on what's likely to happen long term in lunar or martian gravity?

  21. JeffinLondon


    Hey..... Newt is high on space, so maybe we can get past this current flopping about and get serious about going back to the land of green cheese.

    Call it ISS - North, invite in all the ISS partners plus China and let's have a go!

  22. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Perhaps we should start with a colony of some smaller mamal and then

    follow the meercats.

  23. b166er

    @Chris 68, I hope you were joking.

    Like you have any control over what goes on on THIS rock!

  24. Webslicer

    congratulations. you made it through an entire article without saying boffins. pat yourselves on the back.

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge


      I very, very, very nearly put boffins the top line.


  25. Beachrider

    Sooo a Russian says something and NASA (not the ESA) is in cahoots?

    Wow, in the US, the editor would surely be challenged on the title. The title makes it sound like the Russians and Americans are off on some separate pursuit.

    - There is no NASA corroboration

    - The only real quote from the Russian put the ESA at-parity with the other two, but you would never know from the title

    - NASA's official position is that the Moon isn't the next opportunity. HEO or Lagrange points have been placed FAR above building bases on the Moon.

    - While we are at it, where is the ESA or Roscosmos corroboration?

    ... I suppose the discussion is good for conjecture...

  26. ItsNotMe

    Just wonderful.

    "Man" has just about completely buggered up the let's see how we can make a huge mess of another planet. :-(

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Seriously, if there is no life on the moon what exactly is the problem? It will be obliterated in a few billion years anyway when the Sun goes red giant, regardless of what us 'evil' humans do in the meantime.

    2. E 2

      If at first you fail...

      try try again!

      Lots of planets out there for us to practice on I say!

  27. ElReg!comments!Pierre


    Should Nevad expect a sudden rise in population then?

    OK, OK, I'm leaving

  28. Anonymous Coward

    First they ban nuclear testing, now you want to get rid of the waste??

    But if you get rid of all the radioactive stuff where are the giant mutated ants, radioactive city-destroying lizards and swamp things supposed to come from??!

    Sigh....I guess I should have been an adult in the 1950s....

  29. Buzzby
    Thumb Up

    Old Book Worth a Read

    The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Robert Anson Heinlein, is well worth a read. Let them throw rocks!,

    What a good idea.

  30. E 2

    The last people on the moon

    "... stayed for just over three days in 1972"

    But the weather was terrible and the skin diving very poor, so they left early.

    1. ravenviz Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: The last people on the moon

      Must have been really weird going to sleep each night - and waking up ... on the Moon.

      1. TeeCee Gold badge

        Not half as weird as it would have been had they gone to sleep on the Moon and woken up somewhere else.....

  31. Gumby
    Thumb Up

    First.. an outhouse!

    No colony can be built without an outhouse dug out first!

  32. HAndrew

    Why is the title so misleading?

    Why is the title missing ESA? Russia and ESA just completed the Mars habitat experiment and have other joint projects for launchers.

    Is it some kind of British bias against Europeans or is the Register simply afraid it would be too many words for us readers? :)

  33. The Fuzzy Wotnot
    Thumb Up


    Let's go!

  34. jarule

    RE: The last people on the moon

    Sounds like your describing Benidorm maybe?

    On that note, I hope that daily mail reading, carlsberg swilling expat scousers are involved in no way in colonising the moon. The last thing we need is a f****** Benidorm in outer space.

    That mob colonising the solar system....doesn't bear thinking about.

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