Monday, May 4, 2009

Future may depend on Lunar Colonization

Journalist Andres Castellanos of My Conscience Explodes highlights a lecture April 23 by Eric Vanderhoot, Astronomy and Physics Lab Coordinator at Florida Atlantic University given at the South Florida Science Museum.

Clearly a coordinator after my own heart, Vanderhoot spoke in favor of a position almost precisely the same as that of the Lunar Pioneers, Castellanos reports.

"America’s future in space," according to Vanderhoot, "depends on its willingness to colonize the moon. And it’s not a far-off idea. The moon has energy resources not found on Earth and the technologies needed to harness these resources are mostly known."

Of course, LP strongly agrees, though we frame the point more starkly, e.g., "America's future may depend on its willingness to colonize Earth's Moon." (Never more true, but more difficult to sell when I first made that statement in 1976. And I was not alone, during that dreary first gap in manned spaceflight.)

Castellanos continues, "the head of (FAU's) observatory and physics lab presented all of his ideas regarding living on the moon in a lecture (that) sought to answer the question: Can we live in space?"

The short answer is we already do. But can we move into space aside from highly skilled astronauts?” Vandernoot says."

"He thinks America should strive to revive its frontier spirit, the same one that drove families in wagons toward the old west. This time, however, brave pioneers should settle the moon."

"Vandernoot was quick when his audience asked him about Mars. He warned of spending too much money on a manned mission there. “Absolutely not, we would blow through our budget and never go anywhere again,” Vandernoot responds. “The only way for the public to appreciate any endeavor is for America to get something back for its investment.”

"Vandernoot says resources on the moon can help alleviate Earth’s energy crisis. He also points out that no living ecosystem will be hurt by human presence."

If the reader is understandably skeptical of the Pioneer's more "extreme" position, one can hardly blame you. It has been a stormy season of dire predictions, the last half-century or so, we are so used to being unable to get a word in edgewise, we had kept our position to ourselves, the last quarter century or so. The soil has, however, never been more fully prepared.

It is in the context of those dire warnings, oddly enough, the Lunar Pioneers have often recommended a glance at one of many first class studies on the subject by former Senator Harrison Schmitt (R-NM), in particular those co-written with University of Wisconsin colleague Dr. G.L. Kulcinski.

Fusion Power from Lunar Resources; G.L. Kulcinski and H.H. Schmitt, October 1990 (revised September 1991) [presented at the 41st Congress of the International Astronautical Federation, Dresden, Germany, 6-12 October 1990. (pdf - 25 pages, 625 kB)

The better part of Castellanos excellent full report is HERE.

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