• 70°

Building a base on the moon will take time, money and a lot of effort

The news nowadays is more than 90 percent about the coronavirus, which is sometimes known as COVID-19. It has even caused delays in the space programs. The rocket launching from the space port by Arianespace at French Guiana has been delayed because of the COVID-19 problem. It is rescheduled for March 23, if health concerns are alleviated, little chance, I would guess.

There are delays for other reasons, also. For example, the moon landing plans have been pushed back also. The plan for our next lunar landing was scheduled for 2024. NASA had asked for an increase in budget of $1.6 billion for the fiscal year 2020 to get started on the lunar landing project. I predict that the NASA budget will be cut significantly, since our higher priority goal is to keep the economy afloat during the COVID-19 virus panic.

Anyway, let’s explore the plans. The earliest reference I have noticed was a 1638 paper by Bishop John Wilkins in which he predicted a moon colony.

That was a little less than 400 years ago. A little more recently, NASA was planning the 2024 landing by laying the ground work. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal last week, the dates for staging using an orbital platform to assemble the needed supplies for human existence on the moon surface has slipped at least a year. This step in the project was supposed to start no later than 2025. Doug Loverro, the NASA head honcho for the project, said modifications are being considered in the program to reduce the cost.

There are a lot of considerations that have not occurred to me. The radiation there will be detrimental to human existence. I guess that 50 years ago with our moon landing, the guys were not there long enough to be concerned about radiation. There was a suggestion to go about 12 feet underground with a habitat which would give the people about the same radiation shield as our atmosphere does for us. Another problem will be supplying power. If the station were to be built at the moon’s south pole, they could enjoy almost continual sunlight for harvesting power with solar panels. One opinion was to use nuclear reactors for power, which they claim would be more efficient than the solar panels and would last longer.

Evidence points to some water there, which could be converted to oxygen and hydrogen by electrolysis.

This could power rockets for further space exploration, like a shot to Mars. The gravity there is about 1/6th of the earth, which would make it easier to lift off. If you weigh 200 pounds on earth, your weight on the moon would be 34 pounds.

China has expressed interest in a moon landing, also.

U.S. astronaut Buzz Aldrin has promoted the idea of making a moon colony an international project rather just the U.S. making the effort.

The private aerospace company Blue Origin has proposed building a cargo rocket capable of lifting almost 10,000 pounds into lunar orbit.

Almost all of this has been talk and planning, it’s going take a lot of money and united effort to accomplish the lunar gateway.

Don Lee, a pilot flying out of Lawrence County Airport since 1970, has been in charge of equipment and grounds maintenance for the last several years. He can be reached at eelnod22@gmail.com