Am I the only one who immediately thought this habitat would come in two flavors: pizza box and cube, use a Motorola 68k, and offer a compelling desktop UNIX experience? For an absolutely shocking price?
Pull up a chair and tuck into a sachet of dried astro-nosh with a round-up of space news you might have missed. You spend years waiting for a Deep Space Habitat and then two turn up at once NASA's Johnson Space Center cheerfully trumpeted the arrival of two very early mock-ups as part of the agency's NextSTEP Habitat effort, …
If you haven't Googled "Moon Base Cost" I suggest doing so. The answer, of course, is that no one knows what putting a research station on the moon will cost beyond the obvious "lots". The research station will likely be called a "colony", but my bet will be that it'll be more like the US South Pole Station -- permanent staff 45. But probably much smaller. Maybe 10-15. Cost estimates are in the $30-$50 billion range, but that's likely low because no actually knows the costs. An underrun of only $20 billion might be possible, but an equal overrun would be $80 billion. The James T Webb Observatory (a product of the 1990s "faster, better, cheaper" era) where every possible thing seems to have gone wrong is now 14 years late and total cost of 19.6B vs an initial estimate of 500M. That's a 1900% overrun. Further slips and overruns there are certainly possible.
My question is not whether a return to the moon can be done. It almost certainly can. I just wonder whether it is a prudent use of resource. $50B would probably pay for 30 or 40 lunar rovers. Mars rovers cost about 2.4B, but getting them to Mars safely is extraordinarily difficult. Lunar rovers should be much cheaper? My contention is that a few dozen lunar rovers and maybe a couple of quick trips to return rock samples will tell us far more about the moon than a dozen folks burrowing in a cave in some crater or other possibly can.
I think an occupied base on the moon is something that has to come sooner or later and with thoughts of sending manned missions to Mars, the Moon will offer the opportunity to gain a lot of experience and knowledge regarding long term stays beyond the Van Allen belts.
It makes a great deal of sense to gain that knowledge relatively close by than to stick a team in a ship and cart them off to Mars hoping for the best. The alternative is to stay on Earth looking out at the Universe like a race of curtain twitchers, too scared to leave the house.
And the ever-spiralling cost of the British HS2 (not so high-speed train service) is currently in the tens of billions of GBP. I can't help feeling that establishing an outpost on the moon is likely to be of more benefit to mankind than travelling from London to Birmingham 10 minutes faster. The cost may seem high but the benefits and experience gained should pay us back many times over.
Move the money from HS2 to a lunar hyper-loop system. Too much caffeine? At least we wouldn't have to chop down any trees and bulldoze peoples homes. Let's just go for it.
Between Space X, Virgin, Darpa’s Self driving cross desert vehicle competition, space stations, self driving cars, real life Thunderbird 3s, mars rovers, mars and moon habitation experiments there’s an awful lot of really interesting stuff going on right now. In the 80s this was the stuff of science fiction.
I believe the correct answer is "lithobraking". Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly is normally reserved for energetic activities over shorter timeframes. Either way, the result's the same, but one version has you bracing for impact, the other you get to go out blissfully unaware...
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