There is water on the Moon.
I’m not sure if any of you caught this tidbit, as it was largely glossed over in the news, not making any of my particular local feeds. Were it not for the NBC Nightly News, I would have never known that anything had been discovered.
They smashed a probe into the moon at a ridiculous velocity to create a plume of gas, which would then be analyzed by another probe to detect if water vapor existed. Apparently it did and, from what one NASA scientist was saying on the aforementioned program, it could be drinkable as long as it was purified.
This is quite a pleasant surprise and an incredible breakthrough to add to the idea of a permanent moon base. If it’s found that there are large enough aquifers under the moon’s surface, then we can drill for water up there rather than import water from the Earth. This would be a time and money saver due to the lack of needed repetitive deliveries to the moon base and would probably allow for the development of some sort of bottled eco-system as well.
This could very well be the jumping off point for the human race’s designs of long-term, long-distance space travel. At the very least, it gives us an awesome starting point for Mars.
There are a few problems with exploiting the moon water for such a base, as I can see. And, I’m no freaking astrophysicist, so don’t take my word for it. I’m just trying to use some common sense here.
1. There will still need to be supply runs. And, unless we find a more efficient way of travelling to and from the moon (which may happen, who knows), we’re going to be kind of screwed. When you think about the rudimentary advances we’ve made in interstellar travel since the end of the Apollo missions, it kinda brings you down (I explain later, keep reading).
Though there may be water, there sure as hell isn’t food unless you decide to start the aforementioned eco-system or at least have some kind of hydroponics.
2. For these supply runs, we’re going to need efficiency. I caught an article through my relentless daily onslaught of Wikipedia regarding the Ares I Rocket. It was one of the daily featured stories and it mentioned that it was going to be tested that particular day. Clicking on it, I found out that this was to be the new rocket to carry astronauts to the moon. Intrigued, I looked further into the more modern attempts to reach the lunar surface.
Surprisingly, I found that, in 40 years since the initial moon landing, we’ve done next to nothing to even remotely make going to the moon look cooler.
The equipment, from an eyeball appraisal, is almost exactly the same. A giant rocket blasts off from the planet, separating in stages until it’s just the command module floating out there, toward the moon, with the intention of landing upon it with a similar looking capsule/module set-up.
Orion is the name of the capsule, with 2.5 times the space of the original Apollo capsule and is claimed to fit 4 – 6 astronauts.
It wasn’t until just now that I found out that this dumb little capsule is going to replace the space shuttle when the last one is retired. Patently ridiculous, I say. Why not stick with the whole “space plane” concept? It’s worked perfectly all but two times in the history of NASA. Why not just build on what works? Seems to me that NASA is going backwards here.
They’re saying that the Orion will be handling all orbital missions and will be able to dock with the International Space Station. They’re also saying that timed water landings are to be the primary method of return, complete with parachutes. What kind of retarded, backwards bullshit is that? Why is NASA wasting good government money developing something that’s going to need to be replaced twice as often and is harder to retrieve because they’ve gotta send a damn aircraft carrier to pick the bastard up out of the ocean?
I’m digressing. The topic was the moon base.
3. Moon water may not be self-replenishing. See, on Earth, we’re used to the ideas of the natural water cycle, weather, evaporation, condensation. Yeah, they don’t have that crap on the moon. They’re not even entirely sure if the moon perpetuates underground aquifers or if it’s comet ice that just happened to be hanging around (because shit on the moon tends to do that). So, we can drill (baby, drill) for all that precious moon water, but we may eventually find it used up. We may eventually need to start that supply line to Earth.
This is all hypothetical, of course. The first manned return to the moon is planned for 2020 and we won’t be seeing it before then. Would a watered moon base aid in the future of space exploration? Absolutely. The moon would hence be the jumping off point for Mars which, if it’s discovered there’s potable water there, would be the gateway to the entire solar system. This would probably be the extent of what we see in our lifetime, to be honest. I don’t share the whole Walt Disney perspective. I don’t buy that we’ll see moon colonization within the next 50 years. With the pace that the space program moves (somewhere between lethargic turtle and gimpy snail), we’re not going anywhere anytime soon. Personally, I think within the next 100 years might be blue skying.
I’m sure we’ll get there within our lifetime. Our generation may well see a man on Mars. Colonizing seems a bit presumptuous.
I know this prospect excites a lot of people. That’s great. Just make sure that your grandchildren keep up with stuff like this because they may be your only hope for a legacy on another planet. I’m enough of a nerd to want the world to be futuristic and though we have made significant technological advances within the last decade and a half, we’re still pretty damn far from where all the futurists thought we would be back in the 50s. We just can’t afford to spend that kind of money outfitting the space program when there’s so much more on Earth with which we should be concerned.
I believe in a sweet-ass space program. I just don’t believe right now is the time to be concerned about it.
Keep fighting the good fight.