Sunday, July 21, 2019

Why go to the moon? Simple. To Gather Resources We Need

Over the last couple of weeks, I've explained how Mars first reached mythical status in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as a desirable planet for people to visit and even live by a series of books and lectures by a somewhat crazy billionaire turned astronomer named Percival Lowell.

Percival Lowell, billionaire, astronomer, and kinda crazy

After that, I examined what it would actually take to send humans to Mars and my belief that NASA will never attempt it nor will anyone else who's reasonable because this tiny little planet isn't worth the blood, time, or treasure to send humans there when robotic and artificial intelligence is available to thoroughly explore it and get back all the answers it might hold.


Artificial Intelligence (AI) Buffy

But this isn't true for Luna, our moon. It's different. People not only can go there, they should go because we need their intelligence, their labor, and their sweat to gather important resources for the world.

My opinion is undoubtedly colored by the unique place I'm from, a town called Coalwood in a state called West Virginia in a place called Appalachia where it's difficult to get there, difficult to live there, but has resources that must be shipped elsewhere in order to keep our civilization humming along.

That's me, third from the right kneeling. Just us 9th grade boys
after visiting the mine where our dads worked. They made money in a dangerous profession but

raised their families, educated their kids, and sent us off to the unsuspecting
world where we did pretty darn well. Our dads were just like what miners on the moon will be like, good, robust, hearty, and daggone smart.

In other words, I'm from a place something like the moon.

West Virginians came to the mountain state in the early 20th Century attracted by the coal mining industry. It wasn't that they necessarily liked mining coal. They came so as to make money and have a place where they could raise their families. The work they did was nasty and dangerous but they still did it and did it as long as they could. After awhile, it became their way of life and they fell in love with the mountains, hills, and valleys of the rugged land.

One of my memoirs about life in Coalwood.
It was a New York Times

Their way of life is the way I think life on the moon could and should evolve.

A few years back, I wrote about the descendants of West Virginians in Crescent, the second novel in my "Crater" trilogy.  In the 22nd Century, Crater, a young Helium-3 miner, and Crescent, a genetically modified female, meet a group on the moon who are fleeing from Earth because their land has been stolen. It turns out they are from an area in the former United States known as Appalachia which has been forcibly depopulated for socio-economic reasons. This is not too farfetched as much of the West Virginia county and the town of Coalwood where I grew up has been depopulated, the people forced to go elsewhere to find jobs. I am one of those ex-pats so I can relate to the group that Crater and Crescent agree to lead to a far place on the moon, a mining town called Endless Dust which is laid out somewhat like Coalwood.

Recently, I told Senator Ted Cruz and his Aviation and Space Subcommittee that what I want out of the space program is "Coalwood on the moon" and that I don't care two cents about who the next professional astronaut is who goes there. What I care about is opening a place where real people - plumbers, electricians, miners, construction workers, and other so-called blue collar workers - can go work, make money, and raise their families just like in the Coalwood where I grew up. Go here to see exactly what I said:

The moon I describe in Crater, Crescent, and The Lunar Rescue Company is a place where there are many Coalwoods, frontier mining towns populated by a rugged people made even tougher and stronger by the land in which they live.

My "Crater" series of novels (aka Helium-3 series).

So how does that happen? How does the moon go from being an exotic fantastic locale where only brave astronauts dare to go to a place of work for folks like those who raised their families in Coalwood? And why would the taxpayers of the United States and our partners and allies ever want to shell out even a dime to make that happen?

It is because the moon qualifies as a reasonable place for the world to expand and gather resources.

Hi there. I'm Luna, your neighbor. I've got lots of good stuff for you
if you'll come and get it.

And what are those resources on the moon that the people of lunar Coalwoods will gather for us and send back? I'll give you the usual list: Platinum, Helium, Helium-3, Thorium, etc. etc. and so forth but remember beneath every crater is the shattered remains of an asteroid. There's likely gold in them thar lunar hills and a lot else, too.

Here's another best-seller I wrote. Vice President Pence
said it was one of his favorite books. It's a little outdated but
still has some great stuff in it about why we need to go back.
And it's got adventure. And thrills. And great characters.
 And sex in space, too (not that it has anything to do with anything else).

As to the "how," it's also pretty simple. We as a nation have done the flags and footprints on the moon thing with Apollo Now, 50 years later, we need an anchoring base on the moon from which other entities, whether governmental or private, can come to, outfit themselves and then set across the lunar plains, valleys, rilles, and hills to explore and then build their roads and towns and start working and making money and raising their families and sending resources back to a needy Earth.

That's it. That's all our federal government has to do. Just build an anchor up there, one staging area and then hold onto it long enough for all others to follow and build up a lunar civilization based on gathering resources.

My clever little moon anchor as described in my 1993 (!) study for NASA

I kind of mapped that anchor out in my 1993 study which I cleverly disguised as a comparison with the South Pole Station that can be seen here:

Will Americans come around to my vision?

We shall see.

 - - Homer Hickam