Sunday, July 19, 2009

NatGeo: "Living on the Moon", by 2040 (just as in Sony's recent flick)

Tonight, July 19, the National Geographic Channel aired its “Living on the Moon”, one hour, with a video available right now at the main channel link here

The program assumes it is 2020, and NASA has learned to build in escape hatches and more redundancies from the lessons of the 1986 Challenger explosion and the 2003 explosion. The astronauts are deployed in orbit in an escape module called the Orion and eventually taken to the moon after “Triplets of Belleville” rendezvous with other missions.

The modern space suit must be much more flexible than earlier ones, and astronauts will live, military style, in insulated pods, that must be radiation shielded for solar flares and other cosmic rays (the equipment must also be shielded as well as the people). By 2024, much of the city is constructed. Moondwellers will have to take a “frontier” approach and mine resources there, even to make oxygen and water. There is an experiment on Mauna Kea with soil similar to lunar soil to simulate these processes. They may find water ice in hidden valleys at the lunar south pole. Eventually, systems are set up to grow food and produce all the necessities locally in pods.

By 2040, a real city or outpost has been established, and is ready for “colonists”. Nevertheless, as in the movie “Moon”, everyone will live “inside” or go through airlocks to go outside in space suits. By 2050, there are regular ferries between the Shackelton Space Port in a deep crater and the lunar modules. Companies start to invest in a self-sustaining economy, just as the American colonists became. On the Moon, solar cells could be manufactured in the natural vacuum, laid down as solar farms by robots; they could even sell power back to Earth. The Moon could be mined for Helium-3, to power fusion plants back on Earth (again, as in the Sony flick).

There could develop lunar tourism; at 1/6 gravity, in a pressurized dome, man could fly, just as on Smallville.

Attribution link for lunar eclipse picture from Wikimedia

Attribution link for solar eclipse picture (1999) taken by Luc Viatour, offered under Creative Commons share alike 3.0 license.

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