back to article Forget Mars: Let's get someone on the Moon – NASA veteran

The retired NASA chief who sent the first American astronaut into space has said the agency should give up on Mars and focus on putting another astronaut on the Moon. Chris Kraft, who was NASA's first ever flight director before becoming a senior manager on the Apollo programme – the US project dedicated to "landing a man on …

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  1. chris lively

    Lets go!!

    Of course, going to the moon and setting up a factory would be in direct contradiction to Armstrong's claims that we were told to stay away from it by the aliens...

    Personally: I saw screw the aliens, its our moon.

    1. Graham Marsden
      Coat

      " we were told to stay away from it by the aliens..."

      ... I thought that was Europa?

    2. Euripides Pants Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: screw the aliens

      Remember to wear a condom, Space Clap is nasty...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I wonder

      If the Chinese are going to be the first people to stand on the moon?

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: I wonder

        They ARE putting a lot of effort in to their space program. They are also the only entity that has stated a formal space plan that includes the moon.

    4. loneranger
      Alien

      Re: Lets go!!

      Yeah, astronauts are such dumb uneducated hillbillies, aren't they? If they said the aliens told us not to come back, they must have been eating too much pizza, right? Who could believe such a story from such mountain clucks anyway?

      At least, that's the attitude of some of you who wouldn't believe that aliens were on the moon even if you were given a personal ride there and given a tour of the place by a 3 foot tall grey, and given some souvenirs of the visit. You'd come back and claim it must have been a nightmare and do everything possible to explain away your souvenir.

      1. david 12 Bronze badge

        Re: Lets go!!

        >even if you were given a personal ride there and given a tour of the place

        You got the tour?

        >and do everything possible to explain away your souvenir

        And a souvenir?

        What did Tonto say about the trip?

        1. cordwainer 1
          Joke

          Re: Lets go!!

          According to Gary Larson, "Kemosabe: Apache expression for a horse's rear end . . ."

  2. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Alien

    A solar cell factory on the moon...

    I'd *love* to see a permanent industrial base on the moon - if only because the gravity well is so much shallower than the earth's (Yes Manny; we can throw rocks) - but I'm not sure what the advantage is of the moon over any number of hot sunny deserts already available and a quarter million miles nearer to ship the coulombs once they're generated.

    1. WatAWorld

      Re: A solar cell factory on the moon...

      The gravity well is even lower on an asteroid.

      A tame asteroid will not be constantly sucking small rocks onto its surface -- and through the skin of any space station on its surface -- at tens of thousands of miles per hour. A manned station on the moon would have to have a heavily armoured skin or be deep underground to reduce the number of collisions to an acceptable amount.

      So as a way station or platform for more distant missions, an asteroid would be better. Shallower gravity well, fewer micrometors to deal with.

      Space-based energy stations beaming energy back to an earth station.

      1. Needs a geosynchronous orbit. The moons orbit is way too high.

      2. If the aiming system has a glitch you fry everyone and everything for X miles around, where X might be hundreds.

      3. It might be the reason mankind goes extinct before it sets up colonies elsewhere.

      1. Don Jefe
        Alien

        Re: A solar cell factory on the moon...

        You know there is a rather popular science fiction trope where sentient beings ride asteroids. They are always the bad guys...

        Good guys travel in nifty spacecraft and have terrible wardrobe choices. Bad guys ride asteroids and have kick ass uniform.

      2. annodomini2

        Re: A solar cell factory on the moon...

        @WatAWorld,

        You missed a key point, the solar array is only generating power 14-15 days out of every 28.

        The micro-asteroid problem is an issue in GSO.

        You don't technically need to relay power to one point on the earth.

        Transmission does have major issues.

      3. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: A solar cell factory on the moon...

        #The gravity well is even lower on an asteroid.#

        Probably too low to be useful for anything. 1/6G may be enough to keep humans healthy. We need the health data point to give us clues as to what health problems may crop up if we go to Mars.

        #A tame asteroid will not be constantly sucking small rocks onto its surface -- and through the skin of any space station on its surface -- at tens of thousands of miles per hour. A manned station on the moon would have to have a heavily armoured skin or be deep underground to reduce the number of collisions to an acceptable amount.#

        A surface installation is only useful to use while a buried facility is being constructed. Decisions have to be made on how deep and what resistance to impacts the underground facilities need to be manufactured for. The venture will never be risk free no matter what the politician promise you for your vote.

        Gravity is a damn useful thing. Ask any astronaut trying to get work done on the ISS.

    2. David McCoy
      Happy

      Re: A solar cell factory on the moon...

      Upvote for the Moon is A Harsh Mistress reference

    3. MacroRodent Silver badge

      Less terrorists... (Re: A solar cell factory on the moon...)

      but I'm not sure what the advantage is of the moon over any number of hot sunny deserts already available and a quarter million miles nearer to ship the coulombs once they're generated.

      Lack of jihadists bent on destroying or holding to ransom your desert solar plant and the necessary thousands of kilometers of power lines?

      Sadly, the desert where a major solar plant would make most sense is the northern part of Sahara, because the electricity-hungry Europe is nearby, but it is also unstable politically.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: Less terrorists... (A solar cell factory on the moon...)

        I can't help feeling that developing/installing/protecting earth built solar generation is an order or two of magnitude more simple than doing it on the moon. Don't forget that the same security issues will apply to any collection system on earth, with the possible exception of a *very* wide beam that is always collected locally.

        A desert is not the only place to put a solar system[1], and of course there's no reason to build only one, any more than one would build only a single power station. At the very least you'd need enough so that a significant number are in sunshine at any time of the day and in any weather conditions.

        I agree though that the northern Sahara makes an excellent location for Europe, if only it weren't so politically unstable. But on the other hand - southern Spain or Portugal, or southern Italy might be equally useful locations and all of those could use the improvement in their economy.

        [1] you know what I mean!

      2. Maharg

        Re: Less terrorists... (The USofA...)

        That maybe correct for Europe, but since we are talking about NASA and the US I would point out there is quite a large area of the US with f**k all in it apart from rocks, great sunsets, people breaking land speed records and making films about cowboys.

        They also don’t have as many Jihadists as North Africa and the cost of laying all the cable might be slightly less than building a moon base.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Less terrorists... (A solar cell factory on the moon...)

        And the Mojave desert in California isn't suitable because.....

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Less terrorists... (A solar cell factory on the moon...)

          #And the Mojave desert in California isn't suitable because.....#

          I guess you haven't run into the "Save the desert tortoise" mob. They're backed by the federal government.

          Fabled tortoises aside, it's not the solar plant that is difficult to get approved and built, it's the years and years of wrangling to get approvals for the transmission lines to get the power to market.

          An additional complication is that the solar facility builders want free land (or long term $1 leases) from the Bureau of Land Management to site the plant. I've always thought that the best approach would be to buy the land (swatches of undeveloped desert are damn cheap) that is adjacent to existing transmission line corridors. Power could be fed in or another set of towers could be placed along side where there is already access. Too naive? I just an engineer, what do I know?

          FYI: look on Google earth or maps where interstate highway 15 crosses from California to Nevada. There are three bloody huge solar towers being built that are impressive sights from the heavens above.

      4. CaptainCorrection
        Headmaster

        Re: Less terrorists... (A solar cell factory on the moon...)

        FEWER!

      5. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Less terrorists... (A solar cell factory on the moon...)

        #Sadly, the desert where a major solar plant would make most sense is the northern part of Sahara, because the electricity-hungry Europe is nearby, but it is also unstable politically.#

        Transmission losses will make the installation uneconomic unless the power can be used locally.

    4. Tom 13

      Re: advantage is of the moon over any number of hot sunny deserts

      The only one I can see is that the environuts can't claim we'll kill any snail darters or the like when we construct the facilities on the moon.

      What I don't see is a good solution for getting the energy to the surface of the Earth after it is created on the Moon. I can see using the power on the Moon for other manufacturing, but that begs the question of what are we manufacturing there. Sure I can come up with what I would consider a practical use for it, but most people wouldn't like that option. In fact they'd be rather terrified of it, so that one is off the table.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: advantage is of the moon over any number of hot sunny deserts

        #I can see using the power on the Moon for other manufacturing, but that begs the question of what are we manufacturing there.#

        Manny's sales pitch was a good one. "Endless free vaccuum, no taxes, 100 proof Stoli Vodka $.50HKL/liter, no taxes". :) I love that book.

        Processes that can benefit from being made on the moon are likely to include the manufacture of high value electronic devices. Pharmaceuticals. Research facilities that work with highly dangerous virii such as Ebola, marbug and SHF. Genetic research. Etc. The emphasis is on small, light and/or biologically dangerous items. The higher the value, the better as shipping is a major cost even if it is "downhill all the way".

        I had the pleasure of talking with Charles Walker, an engineer from McDonald Douglas that flew on the Space Shuttle with an experiment he designed to separate proteins in microgravity. The research led to several breakthroughs that allowed the process to be worked out for use in Earth's gravity field. Mr Walker is convinced that being able to do the same sort of research in 1/6G and compare the results with the same experiments on Earth might be a valuable tool to gauge gravitational effects in chemical and biological processes. Somewhere I have an audio recording of the conversation. At least, I really hope I still have it.

        1. Katie Saucey

          Re: advantage is of the moon over any number of hot sunny deserts

          ..."100 proof Stoli Vodka $.50HKL/liter, no taxes".

          100 proof Bah! Here on earth you can easily distil ethanol to 95%, or 180proof (96% is the ethanol-water azeotrope). In a vacuum it would be no problem to get very near 100% (200 proof) firewater.

    5. Thoy

      Re: A solar cell factory on the moon...

      YEAH... but just think of all the space rockets needed to ship the batteries back to Earth !!!

  3. proto-robbie
    Boffin

    So, how does that work then?

    How do we pipe in the wigglies? Without cooking things, that is?

    1. Ben79

      Re: So, how does that work then?

      Really, really long extension lead.

      1. Dr Scrum Master
        Paris Hilton

        Re: So, how does that work then?

        But isn't it going to be rather expensive to keep shipping the batteries between the Earth and the Moon to recharge them from the Lunar solar cells?

    2. monkeyfish

      Re: So, how does that work then?

      A giant stick with the moon on the other end, I've always wanted one of those.

  4. William Donelson

    Radiation on a trip to Mars is insurmountable at any kind of reasonable budget. Going to the moon, if we must put people into space, is the way to go.

    1. Flatpackhamster

      Only if you assume that we have to bring the people back from Mars. If it's designed and planned as a one-way trip to develop a Mars colony then the radiation issue can be ignored.

      1. Red Bren
        Coat

        One way trip to Mars

        "If it's designed and planned as a one-way trip to develop a Mars colony then the radiation issue can be ignored."

        Radiation induced mutations might even give the intrepid colonists some super powers to help them overpower and enslave the subterranean submartian underground Martian population.

        1. Maharg

          Re: One way trip to Mars

          As I said before, I can see the live news coverage…

          “And now we see the team board the good ship Event Horizon, led by Captain Dallas, here comes first officers David Bowman and Frank Poole, Warrant officer Ellen Ripley and chief petty officer Riddick, as well as medical officer Major Tom. The crew already have a number of families on board, including the Robinsons, who have various support roles once the colonisation begins.

          While on their Mission to Mars they will be assisted by the Even Horizons Super Computer HAL 9000 and regally supplied by the Star Ship Red Dwarf.”

          1. Isendel Steel
            Joke

            Regally

            So they'll be living like Kings ?

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Meh

      "Radiation on a trip to Mars is insurmountable at any kind of reasonable budget"

      Unless of course you happen to have say a 10m thick wall already in orbit. Getting it moving is tough, but not impossible by a variety of methods.

      Or NASA actually funded some research into radio-protective additives to the atmosphere or food suppliers.

      Or perhaps do a bit more work on GCR other than 1 sensor in the whole Mars exploration programme.

      1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: "Radiation on a trip to Mars is insurmountable at any kind of reasonable budget"

        ...Unless of course you happen to have say a 10m thick wall already in orbit. Getting it moving is tough, but not impossible by a variety of methods....

        I'd be surprised if you weren't carrying a water container on the ship which was 10m in size or greater.

      2. MacroRodent Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: "Radiation on a trip to Mars is insurmountable at any kind of reasonable budget"

        10m thick wall

        About 2m of water or other hydrogen-rich material should be enough, if I recall correctly a SciAM article on the subject a few years back. (Of course that may be now obsolete data, or too optimistic). In any case you only need to shield the main living quarters of the crew, not the entire ship. For minimum weight, construct a hollow polyethylene ball, with inner diameter something like 4m, from sections small enough to ferry up with realistic rockets.

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Boffin

          Re: "Radiation on a trip to Mars is insurmountable at any kind of reasonable budget"

          " For minimum weight, construct a hollow polyethylene ball, with inner diameter something like 4m, f"

          I thin k you'll find some existing rockets offer 5m dia fairings already. No assembly required.

          1. MacroRodent Silver badge

            Re: "Radiation on a trip to Mars is insurmountable at any kind of reasonable budget"

            I thin k you'll find some existing rockets offer 5m dia fairings already. No assembly required.

            Just to refresh my math, I did the calculation. Assuming 4m inner diameter and 8m outer diameter (2m thick walls), and the density of polyethylene at 0.94 g/cm3 (= 940 kg/m3), the weight of the sphere works out as 220.5 metric tons. I think more than one launch is needed with current rockets.

            1. Danny Roberts 1

              Re: "Radiation on a trip to Mars is insurmountable at any kind of reasonable budget"

              Unfortunately, it's the "modern rockets" that are part of the problem, would only need two launches in the late 60's;

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturn_V

              Could be done (cheaper) in five Falcon Heavy launches though, only ~$135m a launch :-)

            2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
              Happy

              Re: "Radiation on a trip to Mars is insurmountable at any kind of reasonable budget"

              "Just to refresh my math, I did the calculation. Assuming 4m inner diameter and 8m outer diameter (2m thick walls), and the density of polyethylene at 0.94 g/cm3 (= 940 kg/m3), the weight of the sphere works out as 220.5 metric tons. I think more than one launch is needed with current rockets."

              My mistake.

              I was picturing a bubble-within-bubble water tank.

              Current payloads are running about 20-25mt and of course Spacex's F9H is scheduled for takeoff next year at 53mt of payload.

              So you could send up a pretty thick airtight inner shell and build up the outside in between 8-10 current launches or 4 F9H's.

              Not impossible. But commandeering an asteroid is not starting to look quite so hard from my PoV.

    3. WatAWorld

      How to accelerate a heavy ship economically but keep the astronauts' trip short.

      Space travel is based on unreasonable budgets.

      Personally I think the headlines of "man cannot make round trip to Mars due to shielding" was just a headline grabber, NASA's attempt to get back in the headlines.

      Seriously, the engineers there really cannot think of a dozen ways to get the shielding?

      Just off the top of my head here are four thoughts on how to get the shielding. I think method (d) is particularly interesting. Probably someone at NASA has already thought of it, but if not, it might be a good starting point. (a) to (c) are less complicated.

      a) Gather up the space junk up and mash it into shielding.

      b) Normally manned space vehicles recycle water, so they do not need vast quantities of it. Water for shielding is discussed as a good idea, except for the weight of getting it up there.

      So why not condense water vapour from the upper atmosphere? It is part way up there already.

      c) Send a robotic space vehicle to tether an iron-type asteroid and use the asteroid as shielding.

      d) Send the shielding up in pieces over many months to be assembled in space.

      (i) The problem is that economical acceleration in space is slow acceleration (I am thinking of ion thrusters), and with heavy shielding you need economical acceleration.

      (ii) The problem with slow acceleration is that it takes too long with humans on board. We humans want a short trip (weeks or months), not a trip that lasts years.

      (iii) Therefore

      - Accelerate the shielded ship on a trip around the sun, maybe a few times around the sun.

      - Once the heavy shielded ship is at high speed, send the crew on a ferry ship to board it.

      - The ferry ship can accelerate quickly because it is only being used to shuttle to the heavy shielded ship. It can quickly reach the speed of the heavy shielded ship and transfer the crew.

      1. WatAWorld

        Re: How to accelerate a heavy ship economically but keep the astronauts' trip short.

        "Once the heavy shielded ship is at high speed, send the crew on a ferry ship to board it."

        Naturally you would plan the trajectory of the heavy shielded ship so that it would return close to earth when it was up to speed.

  5. Chris 171
    Black Helicopters

    Panel Arrangement

    So supposing this happens, placed correctly and in sufficient numbers the panels could be made to resemble a pupil. Therefore turning the moon into A MASSIVE SPYING EYE IN SPAAACE!

    Or have I got my acronyms mixed up?...

    1. John 62

      Re: Panel Arrangement

      Acronyms, maybe not mixed up, no. Hubble is actually a repurposed spy satellite!

  6. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    Congress and the Senate *ordered* NASA to build the SLS. It's in the funding law.

    And basically NASA will throw anything under the bus to get it built.

    So until you address that little matter (the dysfunction of the American political system) you're screwed.

  7. Steven Holmquist
    Joke

    Possible Reason for not going back to themoon

    Maybe the folks at NASA reached an agreement with the Nazi's to leave them alone and never return in exchange for them not launching an attack against the earth al la "Iron Sky".

  8. DJ
    Coat

    Great idea!

    Power from the moon, that is.

    Just one question: Who gets the contract to build the extension cord?

    Mine's the one with the 1.21 Gigawatt Tesla wireless power transmitter in the pocket.

    1. YARR
      Meh

      Re: Great idea!

      ACME LASERS.

      1. Graham Marsden
        Alert

        Re: Great idea!

        Just as long as it's not an Illudium Pu-38 Explosive Space Modulator.

        We don't need any Earth-shattering Kabooms!

        1. Chairo

          Re: Great idea!

          This is not a moon...

    2. Suburban Inmate

      Re: Great idea!

      cord from moon to earth orbit. I am soon to be zonked out by a pick n mix of sleeping pills, but if we can lay big fat marine cables it seems plausabe that me might be able to string a longer but lighter one up there in sections and join them. this alone should pick up quite a charge by itself, with a smaller wireless hop to earth.

      1. Maharg

        Re: Great idea!

        The main problem with that idea is that the earth and the moon have this habit of moving independently from one another, so unless we

        A) cover the earth in receivers to pick up these wireless transmitters,

        B) to store the power and transmit it all in one quick blast every cycle

        C) have a number of other wireless transmitters orbiting the earth to bounce the signal off in a way that will not weaken it

        D) have a signal strong enough to pass though the earth and all that iron in the core to the receiving station on the other side.

        Considering I get a headache if I use my mobile phone to long, I don’t like the last idea.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Great idea!

          Run electricity pylons around the equator at the same height. Have, say, the positive wire to the north and negative to the south and let the big moon wires dangle down and brush along them like an inverted train pantograph.

        2. monkeyfish

          Re: Great idea!

          or..

          E) Fire a rocket at the moon to change it's trajectory to one more favourable to power generation! I'm sure it wont have any other side effects.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    monkey tennis

    Solar panel factory on the moon, beaming energy back to earth?

    That is even more idiotic than orbiting solar power stations.

    No wonder Elon Musk is taking these guys' jobs.

    1. Rukario
      Mushroom

      orbiting solar power stations

      Yes we are orbiting a solar power station.

    2. myarse
      WTF?

      Re: monkey tennis

      Rubbish, once we have harvested all those photons we can stick em in crates and launch them back to Earth via a giant slingshot.

      Low gravity to massive gravity well, what can go wrong?

      Aiming might be hard but with a large enough net we should be good to go.

    3. Don Jefe

      Re: monkey tennis

      Balderdash! Horseless carriages powered by "petrol"? The most proposterous thing since those boys who build bicycles claimed to be building a "flying machine".

      1. Crisp Silver badge

        Re: Horseless carriages

        "You would make a ship sail against the winds and currents by lighting a bonfire under her deck...I have no time for such nonsense." -- Napoleon

  10. Arachnoid
    Mushroom

    A good use of a specialist 3D printer

    Using moon dust to build the infrastructure for a moon populace pre the meteor strike on Earth

  11. Dan Paul
    Terminator

    Time to get off this planet for survival of the species

    It is long past time to get off this planet so there is a breeding population of humanity where the warmongering morons here won't easily blow them up too.

    It's gotten to the point where none of the so called "world leaders" have the common sense of an ass. None of them are able to learn from our collective past mistakes, world history or anything at all.

    Shouldn't take too much to realize that if survival of humanity is the only thing that comes out colonization, that's a really good start.

    Building solar panels on the moon is OBVIOUSLY not cost effective, survival is ALWAYS cost effective.

    1. twelvebore
      Meh

      Re: Time to get off this planet for survival of the species

      So you need to find a source of funding that's not coupled to "world leader asses". While you're at it you might like to take stock that the section of the population that are most efficient at breeding are, broadly speaking, the moron section. The moron section that, once it reaches voting age, votes in the world-leading asses.

      Have you tried firing up a Kickstarter for your Moon colony ambition? Shoudn't be too difficult to find a select group of very rich people who pay to get away from the scum that inhabits this rock to found a new colony of the best and the brightest on the Moon.

      1. Vector
        Happy

        Re: Time to get off this planet for survival of the species

        Didn't someone just release a movie like that..?

      2. disgruntled yank Silver badge

        Re: Time to get off this planet for survival of the species

        I like the way you all think--considered, anyway as colonist material.

        I will happily throw in the price of beer or two to assist in the emigration of those who regard the majority of their fellow humans as morons and scum. And if you linger in the doorway after collecting, I'll give you a Kickstarter, too.

      3. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Time to get off this planet for survival of the species

        I like this plan... but it has a minor flaw, that once the bickering high IQ peeps have settled things out on the moon and built themselves an ideal society that looks after each other, and has enough food/water/energy for all residents, the eyes of an envious earth cast themselves over the huge distances between the moon and them and slowly, and surely drew up their plans.....

        1. twelvebore

          Re: Time to get off this planet for survival of the species

          Hmmm.... it's been a while since I listened to that album, or even read the book, but I thought it was the "perfect" hi-Q society that was forced to prey upon the Earth-based losers with their envious eyes, etc?

        2. fijired2

          Re: Time to get off this planet for survival of the species

          "The chances of anything coming from Earth..."

    2. Tom 13

      Re: where the warmongering morons

      No matter how fast or far you run, you can never outrun yourself.

      Sorry, I don't recall who first said it, but it applies even if you don't regard yourself as the moron.

  12. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Notwithstanding the fact that the original moon landing were a publicity stunt as much as a serious scientific endeavor, I'm with the man.

    Before you scream and leap I'm a huge pro-space nutjob who counts meeting Carpenter and Shirra as high spots in my life, and who took time out of a family vacation this year to go look at the rockets at Kennedy Space Center even though I've seen them all many times before and started doing so when all there was to look at were some rockets guyed in a field and a bus tour to the then-unglazed observation platform miles from the pads themselves (which were still in regular use I might add).

    1. Don Jefe
      Happy

      Re: Bah!

      The correct term is Patriotism Enhancing Mission, not 'publicity stunt'

    2. asdf Silver badge

      Re: Bah!

      >Notwithstanding the fact that the original moon landing were a publicity stunt as much as a serious scientific endeavor

      Publicity stunt is a definitely a more polite term than I would use (ie. US dick waving). At first reading I thought I was going to read drivel from a moon landing hoax birther but quickly realized my mistake.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Err, so what do we do for power in the 2 weeks per month during which the lunar power station is in the dark ? ( not to mention some interesting environmental problems, such as the dust & temperature range )

    1. Don Jefe

      Build two?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Where would you put the second one? That shadow is caused by Earth, which is between the Moon and the Sun.

        1. Robin 3

          There is a difference between a lunar eclipse an a new moon.

        2. Annihilator
          Boffin

          Erm, the moon going dark (new moon) has nothing to do with the earth's shadow. The moon is always lit by the sun in the same way the earth is. The "dark" side of the moon isn't literally dark, it's just that half is always facing away from the earth due to the tidal lock.

          The moon does pass into the earths shadow, roughly twice a year, known a a lunar eclipse, but only for a few hours.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            There is no dark side of the moon, really...

            Matter of fact it's all dark

  14. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Interesting idea.

    While trying to get the energy from a lunar solar array back to earth is a complete nightmare the idea of manufacturing solar panels on the moon is interesting. No need for vacuum pumps! Might be worth investigating. Then some of the panels could be returned to earth and others used to power a moon railgun and a fuck off laser that can be used to power missions to Mars and Beyoooooond.

  15. RISC OS

    Good idea...

    ... once the power lants are up and running we just need to run a cable from here to the moon so that half the world could actually use it - assuming that is the US makes the power cheap enough that the half the world wants to actually pay the price for it

  16. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    FFS

    Stop bickering, go somewhere, anywhere, already!

  17. Chris T Almighty

    That's no moon.

    It's a Power station.

    1. Tom 13

      Re: It's a Power station.

      Just so long as it isn't an iPowerStation. And assuming you beat Apple to the Patent Bazaar with documentation.

  18. Dick Emery

    Screw the moon!

    Where is my damned space elevator!

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Screw the moon!

      Wrapped around the equator of Mars (almost twice) with the ballast rock going hell bent for leather out of the system. Didn't you get the memo?

  19. Coen Dijkgraaf
    Flame

    All energy eventually becomes heat

    So he is proposing to capture sunlight that strikes the moon, convert it to energy and then pump it down to Earth? All energy eventually becomes heat. So unless other power generation on Earth is retired and replaced with this energy coming from the moon (not going to happen), then he is adding more heat to Earth. Ever heard of Global Warming?

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: All energy eventually becomes heat

      We'll just move the Earth further away from the sun until our population increases to the point where having a sun is a liability. If we can bring in a couple of farming worlds and get some reactionless drive technology from the Outsiders, we won't need any sort of solar systems to live in at all.

      Clouds of Magellan, here we come.

      1. Katie Saucey

        Re: All energy eventually becomes heat

        Drop me of at the nearest Ringworld please.

  20. Ben Holmes

    'eventually'

    And there folks, is your problem right there. Nothing on this scale will ever be done again because

    1) It can't be done in one political cycle

    2) The direct benefits to those in power in the short term are not readily quantifiable.

    An so the endless cycle of underfunded grandstand projects such as SLS continue, whilst NASA slips further and further into obscurity.

    I love NASA, I really do. But the budget stranglehold placed on them is laughable. The fact that they get so much out of their meagre handout is amazing, and the missions they run are a constant source of fascination to me. BUt will they ever do anything as big as the moon landings again? I doubt it. The will is there, but the cash...the cash dried up years ago.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      Re: 'eventually'

      " The will is there, but the cash...the cash dried up years ago."

      Actually the cash is there, but the Legislature deems it can only be spent on building a rocket whose single launch will consume roughly 1/12 of the whole NASA yearly budget (not just the human space flight bit).

      And probably 80-90% of that mass is propellant, the single most easily subdivided element of the whole structure.

      Once you know that fact you have to ask why NASA has wasted decades talking about the importance of on or orbit transfer and gauging but not actually doing something about it.

    2. Tom 13

      Re: 'eventually'

      The will disappeared long before the cash did. Now the cash flows as works projects to buy votes for Congress critters. Hence why it seems to be in disarray. If understood as a different version of a welfare project, it makes perfect sense. Assuming of course one approves of welfare projects.

  21. NomNomNom

    plans

    All we have to do is stage a chemical weapon attack on the moon and the americans will want to launch a rocket up there

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: plans

      # All we have to do is stage a chemical weapon attack on the moon and the americans will want to launch a rocket up there #

      Lots of rockets and damn the cost. We have teach those bastards right from wrong.

  22. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

    Half the Earth?

    So the next World War will be fought over control of the light side of the Moon?

    Me? Pessimistic? And who stole my bloody glass!

  23. DJO Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Easy

    Once you have the generating capacity on the moon build a nice big accelerator to make anti-matter, ship that back to Earth to some simple matter annihilation power stations, I mean what could possibly go wrong?

  24. Colin Brett

    We have to get off this rock

    I've upvoted a couple of earlier posters (Dan Paul and Ben Holmes) because I agree with their sentiments.

    Where Dan's point is concerned, I'm with Stephen Hawking, who said "I don't think the human race will survive the next thousand years, unless we spread into space". If we haven't left Earth in significant numbers before then, then the human race will be blasted back to the Stone Age. Look at the Shoemaker-Levy comet impact on Jupiter. That's a near miss in spatial terms. If it had hit the mid-Atlantic, where would we be?

    Ben's point is the main problem:

    "An[d] so the endless cycle of underfunded grandstand projects such as SLS continue, whilst NASA slips further and further into obscurity."

    The technology, the brains and the desire (Elon Musk and even Richard Branson) either exists or is on the drawing board right now. What we (as a species) lack is the political will to make it happen.

    Heck. Rant over.

    Colin

  25. WatAWorld

    What practical reason is there for going to the moon ?

    A. "There's no practical reason for going to Mars. But there is a practical reason for going to the moon."

    I was around in the 1950s and 60s I always read they went to the moon because :

    1. Spirit of competition:

    a) to get there because the Soviets wanted to get there

    b) to get there first because the Soviets wanted to get there first.

    2. Technology driver/demonstrator: The goal could have been anything, just something to emotionally inspire taxpayers and engineers.

    JFK, #1 that's what he said. And later presidents said variations of #2.

    B. "And furthermore, if you really want to go somewhere, get out of this solar system."

    As with the moon, to get there we started with unmanned sub-orbital missions, then orbital missions, then a manned suborbital mission, then manned orbital missions.

    Step-by-step, develop some technology, test it out, develop the next step, test that.

    C. In the big scheme of things scientifically, sending a man to the moon was a waste of money. Anything a man could do on the moon could be done more cheaply by equipment.

    So far as I know, most of the geology and astronomy learned from the Apollo project was learned from the unmanned missions.

    Moon rocks were brought back, but rather than being really useful as was predicted, they were so useless many of them got lost in drawers.

    D. The moon is not going to crash into the earth. A large asteroid or comet some day will.

    And there is your practical reason for doing what is currently being done.

    E. As for astronomy and geology, there are the unmanned missions giving us way more bang for the buck than any manned mission.

    F. All that is missing from today's NASA is the cowboy rocket hero aspect. That is true. NASA wants to compete with the US armed forces in charisma and propaganda -- but propaganda against US taxpayers is not a proper use of taxpayers money.

    That is how I see it.

    1. Don Jefe
      Alert

      Re: What practical reason is there for going to the moon ?

      Would the fact it is cheaper and more efficient for equipment to raise your children, take care of your wife, do (your favorite hobby) or replace your favorite sports teams make doing it that way a better choice?

      Cost and efficiencies are the tools of accountants, ineffective politicians and off-brand super villains. A non-military mission of exploration needs no justification for its existence. It exists because it is right and good that Humans expand on our knowledge and abilities as individuals, as nations, as a species.

      Our species innate desire to learn and explore, our ability to adapt to what we find over the next hill is a large part of what makes us somewhat special. Unlike other animals we do not have to wait for fate or happenstance to dictate where, or even if, our species survives and thrives. We have a very special ability, an evolutionary advantage in our desire for more questions and the ability to build on the answers to those questions. It is not only foolish to ignore that advantage, it is the purest folly for the ultimate survival any species to to fail to utilize its advantages.

      I say back to the Moon with Man. On to Mars. On to places no one has ever seen.

      I also say we need a non-alien 'Space' icon.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: What practical reason is there for going to the moon ?

      Look up interviews with Steve Squires about the usefulness of the Spirit and Opportunity rovers. He states that a human geologist is able to accomplish more in an afternoon than both rovers can accomplish in a year (martian year). Since he couldn't expect to go to Mars himself, the rovers were the next best option.

      Human exploration garners much more interest and excitement as long as it's breaking new ground and making exciting new discoveries. Now that ISS is built, it could be manned by robots for all most people care. Going back to the moon with autonomous rovers and mindless mining robots isn't going to make for riveting campaign speeches.

  26. Herby Silver badge

    There is one resource on the moon!

    Two words: Helium 3

    Yes, it is used to do lots of stuff, and the moon has some in reasonable quantities.

    As for light/dark moon. That is caused by its 28+ day orbit around the earth which has only one side pointed to it. The SUN's view is entirely different, and that is what causes the phases. To have constant solar power there, you need the panels on opposite sides of the moon. That will work except when there is a lunar eclipse that will shadow things. Even then the one on the back side of the moon can't be effected as it doesn't see the earth (or its shadow).

  27. Kharkov
    FAIL

    Ok, what is this guy on and can we all have some, please?

    Beaming power... from the Moon to the Earth... Yeah, that's going to happen in the next twenty years (not)...

    Getting out of the solar system... words fail me... walk before you run?

    The Moon instead of Mars? Well that's Bob Zubrin's next article written...

    Can't wait for the next bungee boss in the upper levels of NASA to spout off...

    And meanwhile it's the SENATE/CONGRESS that mandates funding SLS, the giant sucking hole in NASA's budget which will, at most make ONE FLIGHT.

    [Begin head/desk interaction]

  28. Paul J Turner

    By the time they build the power source

    The needs of 'half the world' will be quite a bit greater, I would think, and losses in energy transmission will take a lot too, beamed or otherwise..

    Given that they apparently can't protect existing infrastructure from determined hackers and terrorists, is it really a good idea to build a Terrawatt microwave or laser system pointed at the Earth?

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: By the time they build the power source

      Well, the way it is looking, the Chinese will be the first to build there and if you listen to our (US) politicians everything they send up there will be pre-hacked anyway.

  29. DougS Silver badge

    Solar panels on the MOON?

    The biggest problem with the technology is not making the panels - they've become what 10x cheaper to make in the past decade? - but 1) the fact the cost of installing them doesn't drop nearly so fast as making them and thus the installation cost now dominates for residential scale installs in high wage countries and 2) the fact the sun doesn't shine 24x7. Putting solar panels on the moon sounds great, except that the moon doesn't receive sunlight 24x7 either and even with multiple stations dispersed around the moon nor does a given spot on Earth see the moon 24x7

    Not to mention that beaming power from space is not a proven technology. Maybe we should try orbiting a small solar power station and beaming the power to Earth to get the bugs out before deciding we need to go to the moon and set up a solar panel factory, only to determine too late that sending gigawatts of power on microwave beams from space has unintended consequences or difficulties we didn't fully appreciate.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Solar panels on the MOON?

      # Not to mention that beaming power from space is not a proven technology. #

      We've proven that beaming power from the edge of the solar system to Earth is a proven technology with the Voyager probes. The only difference is the operating frequency, the power level and the lack of modulation for data transmission. All of the concepts are EXACTLY the same.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When the moon hits your eye...

    ...like a big NASA pie, that's Apollo...

  31. ShankarOnline

    Harnessing the resources we have

    Well Humans have harnessed and many times messed up the resources we have had on Earth.

    On Moon we dont want that as our backyard of all the junk.

    One way that is also sensible. Send all the junk tires and plastic e-waste to Moon, one good thing, there is no air or water to pollute and its not going to pollute its soil too! No interaction with life to create mutated beings.

    Yes its a good idea put solar panels charge up batteries and bring to earth or use it to power satellites using lasers.

    To me all toxic substances the world has can be put there to clean up earth. recycle and bring to earth.

    After all 35+ years since our lunar expeditions I don't see what that science really helped human civilization.

    We travelled we gained knowledge of how to reach there and I don't know other than stories of astronauts walking making experiments on zero gravity how much did it contribute to science than what we could have done all on earth itself.

    Mars missions insane! and spending on Black holes and understanding distant stars which will be lightyears away imagining to travel using timewarps. - Will they be funded in our life time? Better think of cleaning up the toxic on earth rather than sending to 3rd world countries to polute them and expect them to clean our mess send them to moon keep them stocked there till we find a science solution to recycle without doing more damage on earth. IN 5 DECADES 1 THING WE KNOW ONLY 1 EARTH! No life anywhere else! Not even planets with Dinosaurs anywhere insight for a million lightyears away!

    1. DJO Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Harnessing the resources we have

      "One way that is also sensible. Send all the junk tires and plastic e-waste to Moon"

      You do realize it costs at least $35,000 per POUND (~$77,000 per kilogramme) to lift stuff into low Earth orbit, expect that to at least double for a moon trip - Interesting definition of "sensible"

      "Yes its a good idea put solar panels charge up batteries and bring to earth"

      Same applies

      "We travelled we gained knowledge of how to reach there and I don't know other than stories of astronauts walking making experiments on zero gravity"

      Really there is no such thing as "zero gravity", there is no point in the universe that is not under at least some gravitational influence and there is plenty of gravity on the moon. In orbit the vehicle is in free fall so there is the appearance of no gravity as the vehicle and contents are falling at the same rate.

      "Mars missions insane"

      Oh well than, we better abandon it all then. I and many others would say that NOT having a Mars mission at some point would be really insane.

      "No life anywhere else"

      Proof please. Mathematically the odds of there not being life anywhere else are so tiny that they can be disregarded. If the universe is infinite then not just life but exact duplicate Earths are guaranteed (It works like this: There are only so many ways that atoms can be arranged to form a galaxy, it's pretty huge number but it is finite, so if the universe is truly infinite then every arrangement must be repeated eventually).

      "Not even planets with Dinosaurs anywhere insight for a million lightyears away"

      Per-lease do you even read the crap you write, in order to resolve any detail on a planet even 20 LY out would require a telescope with a lens bigger than the Earth. Having said that soon we will be able to get spectrographs of the atmospheres of distant planets, then we will start to see evidence of alien life. (or not).

      "imagining to travel using timewarps"

      Our existing propulsion methods are purely Newtonian and are pretty useless for really long distances as demonstrated by the Voyager probes, the fastest man-made objects in existence, launched in 1977 and only just leaving the solar system. What's needed is Einsteinian propulsion, something that acts directly on spacetime but nobody knows how to do that yet and if we don't do the research nobody ever will.

  32. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    ProgramMING CodeXSSXXXX for Systems CyberIntelAIgent Security and Virtual Protection ....

    ... for a Guaranteeing Absolute Immunity with HyperRadioProActive Impunity.

    Does anyone else virtualise and realise that establishing a moon base extraordinarily renders to space flight personnel and all who be also Great Game Virtual Terrain Team Leaders, Astute Active Autonomous AI Command and Remote Ambiguous Control of Anonymous Lunacy on Earth and in Dumb Warring Machine Machinery ...... Idiot Infrastructures with Crazed Humanised Networks into Madness and Mayhem for Conflict and CHAOS*?

    And as such, is IT more likely a Type NSA/GCHQ/FSB/MSS Program for Civilised Pogroms and Future Planning than NASA/ESA/Roscosmos/CNSA Operation?

    *Cloud Hosting Advanced Operating Systems.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: ProgramMING CodeXSSXXXX for Systems CyberIntelAIgent Security and Virtual Protection ....

      Dr Bostrom believes we've entered a new kind of technological era with the capacity to threaten our future as never before. These are "threats we have no track record of surviving".

      Likening it to a dangerous weapon in the hands of a child, he says the advance of technology has overtaken our capacity to control the possible consequences.

      Experiments in areas such as synthetic biology, nanotechnology and machine intelligence are hurtling forward into the territory of the unintended and unpredictable. …. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-22002530

      The SMARTR money ensure and assures one that the technological capacity changes the future as never before, with ITs Command and Control in the hands, hearts and minds of those and/or that which can handle it surprisingly easily.

      Methinks though, that such be a quite alien concept to those and/or that which is earthed and grounded in past establishmentarianism ….. status quo maintenance.

      And yes, there is no questionable doubt at all that IT can be dangerously weaponised as well, and way beyond anything which can be earthly controlled by present systems of SCADA provenance and intelligence service.

      And how very odd for the BBC to be sharing some real news for a change.

      1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

        well, judged on the basis of the current example

        the only thing we have to worry about when it comes to machine intelligence is a minor annoyance.

  33. Chris G Silver badge

    A leetle question

    Do those who suggested cables even humorously; realise the moon orbits the Earth?

    As it goes round and round it will wind itself in and collide with us!

    Beaming Gigawatts of power back here is going to need more than a tinfoil hat to stop your brains frying, you'll have to have a mirror on your head and a Faraday suit.

    Sign me up for a guided tour given by a 3 foot Grey but I would like to opt out of the probing please.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: A leetle question

      And indeed, if we can make a cable between the earth and the moon, we can make a cable between earth and geosync orbit - a far more useful thing in the short term.

      Shame we can't do either at present, really.

    2. DJO Silver badge

      Re: A leetle question

      if you connected the cable to one of the poles with a swivel connector then it would work.

      It's crazy really, putting a solar power station in orbit would be a much better bet as the death ray collimated energy beam would have a shorter distance to cover. Ideally we would build a space elevator and the power could run down cable connected to that.

    3. Tom 38 Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: A leetle question

      Do those who suggested cables even humorously; realise the moon orbits the Earth?

      Yes Chris, yes they do.

    4. Tom 13

      Re: A leetle question

      Some of the ones who do have actually suggested hanging such cables in orbit as a power generating method.

      Frankly, if we can't deal with the NIMBYs over the practicality of earth side production, I don't see any way to deal with it in space. Because it's fundamentally the same issue even if you do change the color of the clothing the "bad" guy is wearing.

  34. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Meh

    Interesting about culling 1/2 of all NASA centres.

    Not sure about his choice though.

    And beaming solar power from the Moon was evaluated in the 1970's as well.

    It was viewed as a turkey, however I'm not sure if the study thought you'd bring the panels from Earth or mfg in situ. In principle the latter lowers the input mass considerably.

  35. d3rrial

    Solar Power?

    Helium mining: Yes, we need lots of helium on earth, because we are running out. But we have no way of transferring electricity generated on the moon to earth. The only thing that should be solar powered on the moon are helium factories.

    Also: The "dark side of the moon" is more viable for solar power than the earth oriented side. The earth oriented side will go dark every month for half a month PLUS everytime the shadow of earth covers the moon up, this may not be very often but it happens. The dark side of the moon will only be dark for half a month, but because its always facing away from earth, it won't be blocked by earths shadow ever.

  36. robin penny

    Other reasons the Moon makes more sense than Mars

    I agree in principle that going to the Moon makes much more sense than Mars:

    1. Do we really want China to have a monopoly on the moon?

    2. Astronomy - rather easier to do a Hubble type telescope repair/upgrade if it (and other Astronomy satellites) were at a moon base. You could also use/reuse/adapt them for much longer instead of burning them up in the atmosphere when they run out of fuel.

    3. Learning to survive off-planet without going all the way to Mars where you are probably beyond rescue if things go badly wrong.

    4. Nuclear waste dump anyone?

    But moon dust may be a barrier. It seems to be a bigger problem than most people realize, not sure if Mars dust would also present issues?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 4. Nuclear waste dump anyone?

      In a word, No!

      -Martin Landau

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Other reasons the Moon makes more sense than Mars

      # 4. Nuclear waste dump anyone? #

      Launching nuclear waste to the moon on rockets built by the lowest bidder could be a very bad thing.

      Look for "thorium remix" on YouTube. It may turn out to be possible to "burn up" a large percentage of current radioactive material in spent reactor fuel rods which are only 5% byproducts anyway. It will have to be proven if that's viable, but the prospect is certainly worth looking into as the lace panty crowd is trying to shut down all nuclear reactors everywhere.

      I agree that leaving China alone on the moon with their own bases is a frighting thought. Sun Tsu. The moon is the ultimate "high ground".

    3. Vociferous

      Re: Other reasons the Moon makes more sense than Mars

      1) China is in no position to monopolize anything, and even if they did there is probably no celestial body they're more welcome to than the moon. It is uniquely low in raw materials in the entire solar system, due to the way it formed. The only thing it has is location, ie it's close to Earth and easy to reach.

      2) An optical telescope doesn't like dust, vibrations or gravity, and so is better off in free space. A radio telescope could be useful, but it'd have to be built on the "dark" side of the moon.

      3) If the object is to learn to survive on Mars, you'll get better training in the dry valleys of Antarctica, as Antarctica is far more similar to Mars than Luna is, and at a tiny fraction of the cost.

      4) Nuclear waste is easy to safely store here on Earth too, just bury it in bedrock. The only problem is irrational anti-nuclear hysteria (we've got people actively worrying about what happens in 100 000 years, compare that to the inability to care about what happens NOW with all other forms of pollution!). That same hysteria makes it impossible to fly nuclear waste to Luna even if there was any point of doing so, and it could be done economically.

  37. Handel Taken

    I was at Kennedy Space Center a couple of weeks ago and they said they're going back to the moon in 2020.

    1. Kharkov
      Meh

      They're probably referring to SLS-2, currently slated for 2021, which will be Apollo 8 redux except that it won't be in support of a mom program.

      It'll be just something to do because they can't think of anything else to do with it.

  38. Vociferous

    Why do people want to go to the moon?

    It's a dead rock with very little raw materials and no interesting science. And if you put solar panels on it, they're going to be in darkness 50% of the time.

    By all means put solar panels in space - but that should be open space, where they get 24/7 sunlight.

  39. Anteaus

    Solar panels on the moon? They seem to have overlooked the fact that it rotates once a month, therefore a 14x greater night backup problem than here on Earth. I don't say that solar panels are economic anywhere, but in space at a distance where sunlight isn't obscured would be the sensible option.

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