I wonder if it will be Spielberg that replaces on Stanley Kubrick for the video production ?
The United States' Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has cleared private moon-shot aspirant Moon Express for a 2017 lift-off. Moon Express says the approval makes it the first private company to venture beyond Earth orbit. It's not entirely right: in 1997 a communications satellite called AsiaSat 3 missed its intended …
"...Apollo took 12 men to and fro..."
The 'to and fro' was a total of 24 men (27 occupied seats, 3 went twice).
It's my opinion that 24 men went 'to' the Moon (3 twice), and 12 of those (a subset) 'walked' on the Moon. After all, if we're going to use the highly specific term 'walk' for those 'Moonwalkers' that walked on the Moon, then the term 'to' (the Moon) is free for use to describe the larger set of 24.
It's horrifically bad manners to ignore those other 12 men that certainly went 'to' the Moon, but didn't 'walk' on it. Wonderful people like Mike Collins and Jim Lovell (etc.). e.g. Jim Lovell has been 'to' the Moon twice, but never 'walked' on it.
It's a subtle semantic point, but seems crystal clear to me.
By the way, I suspect that Jim Lovell is the person that's been further from the Earth than anyone else.
Apollo 13's free return trajectory was the further craft. Everybody knows that.
But it's also been noted that the other two rookies had their noses pressed up against the Moon side window. So Jim was presumably loitering on the other side of the craft, further away at correct moment.
Jim Lovell, the person that's been further from the Earth than anyone else.
Why did they need permission from the US to make a trip to the moon?
What extraterritorial claim is the US trying to enforce on our planets natural satellite?
I thought the company who are supply the rockets etc are from New Zealand- and a shedload of the tech is European (predominantly but not exclusively ESA funded tech).
How or why is the US granting authority for the trip- when outer space is supposed to be governed by UN Charter?
The Outer Space Treaty says "the activities of non-governmental entities in outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, shall require authorization and continuing supervision by the appropriate State Party to the Treaty". Moon Express is a US based company - so I guess the US thinks they're the appropriate State Party.
An American company builds a probe in America partly with a NASA contract. The US doesn't need the Outer Space Treaty to get involved, it's got domestic laws regarding export-sensitive technologies and operating spacecraft.
I was going to say "The Electron launch vehicles are New Zealand's issue to regulate," but apparently that's being built by a US-owned company, Rocket Lab. The technology export issue is probably a headache for them, too.
Rare Earths are not actually that rare. There's been plenty of articles on this very topic here on El Reg. Sure China produces most of them for now, but if they try to raise the costs people will just set up their own facilities. It's not even that expensive to do.
Seem a strange thing to target...
Not only are they not rare, the difficulty in mining them is separating them from worthless material as well as from each other. Quite how they will do that on the moon with only solar power available and little water and no chemicals, I'm not sure. They can't transport unrefined material back home, too small of a 'good stuff to crap' ratio.
There must be something we're missing here. Either we're wrong about the economics and something about it makes sense, they're purposefully misleading people about the real reason they want to go to the moon, or Donald Trump is the main investor. Maybe they watched that episode of Ancient Aliens where they talked about all the alien artifacts on the moon - though the conspiracy theory that suggests NASA and the rest of the government is complicit in hiding this would presumably prevent them from going. :)
Pity that Tim Worstall isn't still at the Reg, I'm sure he'd have some comment on this seemingly crazy idea.
Perhaps the suggested search for rare earths is a blind for a search for precious metals.
The moon has been bombarded with metallic asteroids as long as the Earth has, however the Moon has no atmosphere to vaporise them on the way in and subsequently spread the material or tectonic activity to subsume the material when it arrives, into the lower crust.
When there is private money involved you can bet your house there is a business case.
I had to google the Rocket Labs Electron - it can get 150kg into a 500km sun-synchronous orbit according to Wikipedia. They're one of the bunch of companies going for the small satellite market.
Now I appreciate that a one-way robot trip to the moon will be a lot easier than a manned mission, but it's still impressive that a moonshot needs an exceptionally small and cheap rocket these days.
This simply sounds like the typical driver in north america.
I GOT THERE FIRST.
Mind you knowing there's a $30M payoff at the end of the drive might make them willing to put a little more in the pot to get there first.
Processing rare earth materials on earth is affected somewhat by our atmosphere. I'm no geophysicist, but other than the He3, I rather suspect that one or two of the rare earth bits will be easier to fraction in near vacuum, at the very least it will substantially change the processing requirements. And then, well, there aren't all these ecological surveys, protection rules and cleanup requirements. I seem to recall that there's a *reason* China is out in front on the rare earths production bits....
"And then, well, there aren't all these ecological surveys, protection rules and cleanup requirements. I seem to recall that there's a *reason* China is out in front on the rare earths production bits..."
You're right about that but I don't think the economics of of a moonshot stack up against that just yet. Maybe a fully reusable Falcon8 heavy might lower the costs enough if you're right about "easy" processing of some rare earths.
The company thinks that the Moon is a potential future source of rare earths, the substances so prized for manufacture of electronic devices, and hopes to find a way to return them to Earth
You should be careful about getting things back from Moon to Earth because The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.
I am writing a scientific paper at the moment which explores the possibility that some isotopes of heavy metals not found on Earth (notably bismuth and barium) could allow materials to be made that superconduct at well above 200K without the expense and complexity of enrichment.
This would be a game changer for many industries notably quantum computers power generation and transmission as no bulky and expensive cryo-coolers would be needed.
Simple cooled hydrogen would suffice as both a coolant and energy transmission medium with low cost copper or stainless magnesium (a new discovery in 2016) replacing more expensive silver in the coils.
Interestingly the original discovery of LaBaCuO might well have been a fluke, caused by only that one key isotope of barium and YBCO would never have been found if it hadn't shown up during testing.
If superconductor materials are identified above 200K then surely liquid Nitrogen would provide the necessary cooling with a boiling point of 77K? It is far more abundant, inert, and easily transportable.
Not really with you on how cooled H2 would be the 'energy transmission medium' when that is the purpose of the superconductor material.
You may want to reread and edit your paper.
No, this wasn't a typo. N2/H2 mix would also work and the 77K limit has long since been breached with the latest record for cuprates in the 155K (2015) and 212K in compressed H2S at gigapascal pressures.
The reason for using such a high Tc material is that if the LN2 heats up then it does not quench under the tens of thousands of amps current until it gets about 30K below the Tc.
As the flammability limit for hydrogen is quite high (IIRC >20%) setting the limit lower than this would ensure that a leak would be a minor inconvenience rather than a catastrophe.
Now I can finally see a Trans-Linear Accelerator as useful for this mining. It requires only the solar electricity to ramp up the buckets to hurl packages into moon orbit - another system can pick them up from there. I can envision a traveling circuit of "trucks" moving material back to earth and to the moon again, needing very little fuel, and never needing to land. The packages would have to be coated in some kind of moon based heat resistant material though, so it could survive the entry into Earth's atmosphere - the rest is just good orbital mechanics and artillery science.
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