A most interesting sparring point arose in the recent debate of Republican presidential hopefuls.
When Mitt Romney was asked what the biggest difference was between him and, Romney replied, “We could start with his idea to have a lunar colony that would mine minerals from the moon. I’m not in favor of spending that kind of money to do that.”
Then, a stunningly lucid and intelligent Gingrich replied, “I’m happy to defend the idea that America should be in space and should be there in an aggressive, entrepreneurial way.”
So help me, the man is right. In fact, George W. Bush ordered NASA to begin planning a Moon Base, gave them a timeline and a deadline, and then authorized the funding for it. Obama trashed this entire plan, claiming that space exploration would best be left to the private sector from now on. He might have a point. Then again, so does Gingrich. He is calling for the same corporatization of space and if businesses can get the job done, why not?
The Moon has trillions of dollars worth of minerals just waiting to be mined. I’m talking about ores such as gold, platinum, iron, and so forth. Nuclear-powered robots could be sent to the lunar surface first, establishing the groundwork for a permanent habitat next to a crater that gets perpetual sunlight. The Chinese have already located such an area on The Moon. By the time astronauts arrive they would be able to walk into the beginnings of an actual lunar base. Robots would then begin to tunnel into the surface of The Moon in order to mine minerals to send back to Earth. As mining progresses, the Moon Base may progress into a full-on lunar colony, complete with solar power plants and inflatable domes for growing food. After this outpost is established, an ectype of the colony could then be placed on Mars.
Of course everyone usually whines about the cost at this point. In doing so, they neglect the number of jobs such a venture would create and how much money could be made on the resources extracted from The Moon. Since there no loner appears to be any kind of vision for space in the White House, perhaps we will one day see a corporation or another private firm display mondo amounts of guts and go forth with this enterprise.
And if they don’t, it seems like the Chinese will be happy to do it for us.
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