What if you tried to give away money and nobody took it? As we know, funding is the greatest challenge for developing off-Earth (and on-Earth!) infrastructure. One inspiration for funding came from the Google Lunar X Prize which promised a large sum for anyone building a robot, getting it to the Moon, then have it take a trip on the Moon. It was an idea; a closer, non-gov’t version of Opportunity and Spirit. Many teams took up the challenge, much as with the Ansari X Prize. It didn’t happen. And the deadline was extended. And extended again. Finally the organizers admitted no-contest. In summary then, offering a prize at a tenth of the very large cost of competing wasn’t enough. Apparently seed money isn’t enough to start the infrastructure build-out.
On the promising side, big rockets are back into vogue. In particular, the Falcon Heavy. The former saw Starman take a giant leap forward. To somewhere in space. Often we’ve blasted non-functioning test systems into space. Yet, this is the first time that a private company has done so. A $90M test according to some spreadsheets. Congratulations! But wonder to yourself, even at $90M per launch, is there sufficient global interest to establish infrastructure on the Moon’s surface? And access resources off of Earth? And extend humanity’s reach into the future?
We at the Lunar Colony Fund believe. We continue to build our base of support here on Earth. We are extending communications to other like-minded organizations such as the Moon Village Association. We envision a future for our children’s children. Join us, support us and represent us. We have a future for humankind that offers so much.
Jean looked again in the mirror. When he looked slightly down the overhead lighting cast strong shadows on his face. If he looked up, all the shadows disappeared and his face looked puffy as if something inside was trying to get out. When he looked up he also saw his nascent goatee, a sprinkling of hair about his mouth and building into a barb on his chin. By adding it he had hoped that his face would look less puffy and more Earth-like. What he hadn’t hoped to see or wanted to see were the very noticeable grey hairs. And a few white ones too. The mirror didn’t lie!
“Hey Xu” he called. “What do you think of older men?”
“That depends” she answered. “Are they short, sweet and cuddly like you? Or are they full of tough machismo and have no ability to think of others like this loser on the Net?”
Jean wasn’t certain he wanted to explore this choice but with trepidation he continued. “Well I’m trying this new look. As I’m sure you’ve noticed. But what I’ve noticed is that my facial hair isn’t all dark. Before, when I went camping for a few weeks and ‘forgot’ to shave then I’d return home with a face covered in a luxurious, black, barbed blanket. So here I am trying to look like I did on Earth and all I’m seeing is age. Do they let old guys stay on the Moon? Do you guys still like me now that I’m old?”
Xu turned around. Completely ignoring the text-war she was having with the Lunar Colony Fund director, she began “Jean, you are the most solid, complete man that I’ve ever come across. If your hair grew out with a tinge of white or even blue or whichever colour I wouldn’t respect you less. Your humour, your stalwart comradery, your warmth as a human continue to attract me to you. As it does for everyone else here in the Hab. Don’t you go worrying about silly little thing like natural aging. You just keep getting and better with it”
Jean smiled and he felt his shoulders lighten. “You are really amazing Xu. You know exactly what to say and when to say it. That makes you the best in my books.” he happily responded. “Today your optimism has won the battle.”
He paused. “But what about tomorrow? And the next day? And twenty years from now? Can we gracefully age here on the Moon? Or do we become grumpy old demented seniors waiting to become plant fertilizer? I just have this feeling that that I’m missing so much being on this old grey world called the Moon. I’m not sure I want my child to grow up without ever being touched by his dad. I don’t want to get old on a foreign rock”
Xu took a big breath in. She knew questions like this were bound to come up. During the pre-flight sociology exams they had seen them and answered them to the best of their abilities. But life was a lot different between when you were answering abstract questions and when you were living the moments.
“I’d say that age doesn’t really change the person.” she began. “As we become adults then it’s life’s experiences that shape our character. It’s how we deal with challenges, how we deal with success, how we respond to failure that defines us. The colour of our hair or the shape of our head doesn’t. This is true no matter what world you live upon. Have faith in yourself together with faith in us, your colleagues, your lovers. We truly do love each other as it’s so necessary in such a hostile place. Don’t you worry about what people on Earth are thinking about how you look. Don’t worry about mindless banter wasting bandwidth on the Net. Just, please, stay the way you are. Because we need you just that way.”
She walked over to where Jean was standing by the mirror and put her arms around him. She pulled him in as tight as she possibly could and held him. Neither said anything more. Reveling in the moment. Slightly anxious about the next. And neither wanting to consider years down the road.
What’s a space truck going to look like? Hopefully it will b a darn sight different than the trucks speeding down your nearby interstate. Given the lesser concern for gravity and a complete lack of atmosphere then a lunar space truck may be as simple as a converted booster stage of a rocket. Or at least that’s the idea from George Sowers of the United Launch Alliance.
With this ‘truck’ as a dependable transfer vehicle then resources could be extracted from the Moon and delivered to lunar orbit. For use anywhere… maybe back to Earth, maybe on to Earth-Moon Lagrange 1, maybe a trip to Mars, maybe to your own development environment.
This truck could be one useful tool for developing the Moon. Can you think of any other useful tools? Any ready now for use on the Moon? Send us a description and we’ll happily present it.
“Should life have a meaning?” pondered Aditya. “Are our actions predefined, history simply like water being guided down the riverbed? Or do we have a choice? And each decision dramatically affects every object, every atom which results in ripples spreading out through the universe.”
With Aditya’s lifetime love of games and simulations he’d often consider this issue. For instance if he were destined to win the pachisi game then why bother sitting down to play? Or, if his presence was instrumental in furthering the lunar colony then should he worry about safety?
Perhaps these thoughts were caused by his present view staring straight down the hillside. A precipitous drop that showed nothing at the bottom. Nothing but perhaps the borders of Naraka.
Softly Aditya shook his head and he moved his eyes back to the horizon. Beside him was Zara. She had a smile on her face portraying both humour and concern.
“So don’t worry, we’re not going to jump in or anything.” she relayed to Aditya. She liked his cheerful, warm companionship that seemed to permeate through the spacesuit, through her and onwards. “What we have here is the smartest sphere I know. It’s a LIDAR contour plotter. We send it over the edge and aim it for the bottom. It then records a three dimensional map of the surface all the way down. Easy!” she concluded.
She knew that Aditya already knew all about the sphere. He had written many of the algorithms that had taken previous mappings and turned them into workable views on their three dimensional imager un the Hab. She was thinking that Aditya needed to return to the present from which ever realm he was so deeply involved.
“Wasn’t it one playwright who provided us the phrase ‘to be or not to be’?” invoked Aditya. “Does nobility have any effect on the game or do we simply continue on within this maelstrom of life?”
“Not sure.” replied Zara. “But we’ve only got a short time to be here so how about leaving the hard questions for a minute and help me set up the relay platform. We need to aim its transmitting antenna to the Hab and its receive antenna will extend past the edge. I don’t want to disappoint Xu if we are forced to leave this mid-way through because our suits ran out of power or air.” she cautioned.
Aditya felt his eyes relax and he turned to help Zara with constructing the platform. He knew all the risks and limitations of this exercise. He knew that while life may be predetermined he still had to make good decisions and then act on them. While his presence on the Moon may have been predetermined, it certainly hadn’t come freely. He had spent much of his life deep in the logics of mathematical theories and modeling of the real world. Moving from academia to being a practitioner on the lunar surface had pushed him to levels of concentration and consideration that he’d never known were possible.
“Sorry Aditya” he began “I had a feeling. Not really of mental wanderlust. More like an appreciation of my presence in the universe. I do find it rather curious at how most people fall into the trap of placing themselves at the centre of the universe. And then expecting the universe to unveil its grand plan to them. I just need to remind myself that I’m simply a collection of inconsequential stardust.”
“Inconsequential or not” invoked Zara “I need your collection of dust to pull that lever just a little bit further to the right. And then the universe will be all OK again.” she smiled.