NASA plans permanent base on moon

By Irene Klotz

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - NASA said on Monday it plans to build a permanently occupied base on the moon, most likely at the lunar south pole.

The habitat will serve as a science outpost as well as a testbed for technologies needed for future travel to Mars, and construction will follow a series of flights to the moon scheduled to begin by 2020.

"We're going for a base on the moon," Scott "Doc" Horowitz, NASA's associate administrator for exploration, told reporters in a teleconference from the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Plans for what the base will look like and what astronauts would do there have yet to be determined. Similarly, NASA has not projected a date when the base would go into operation.

The moon's polar sites are preferred to equatorial regions because of more moderate temperatures and longer periods of sunlight, which is critical for the solar-powered electrical systems NASA plans to develop. Eventually, nuclear power may be used to augment or replace the solar energy systems.

Scientists also suspect the poles have resources such as hydrogen, ice and other materials that could be used for life support.

"It's exciting," said NASA deputy administrator Shana Dale. "We don't know as much about the polar regions."

The United States had already announced plans to develop new spacecraft to travel to the moon and land on its surface for the first time since the last Apollo flight there in 1972. It also plans to provide a communications system linking Earth and the moon.

But NASA doesn't plan to go to the moon alone. The United States will look for international and commercial partners to share the expense and possibly provide components such as additional power systems, living quarters and resources for surface travel on the moon.

NASA is not expecting a budget increase to pay for the program. Rather, it will transition funds currently being used to support the space shuttle into the moon exploration program as the shuttle fleet is phased out.

The shuttles are set to be retired in 2010. By that time, NASA plans to have finished building the space station, leaving the moon initiative as a successor to both programs. NASA receives about $16 billion a year.

Countries and agencies that already have been working with NASA to develop its so-called Global Exploration Strategy are Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, India, Italy, Japan, Russia, South Korea, Ukraine and the European Space Agency.

Copyright © 2006 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
I saw a guy on TV who was doing research on a method to warm up the Martian atmosphere. It was a series of connected balloons that would reflect the sunlight back to the Martian surface, and since it was made up of multiple surfaces, you have the entire sun being reflected back onto this one spot by multiple reflecting surfaces. The idea is to send this apparatus before the Astronauts to warm the surface and keep the surface temperature ambient. But I suspect this could also be used to reflect sunlight back for energy production. This would be orbitting the planet (or moon if this works) all the time and they could have constant sunlight for warmth and energy. Pretty neat stuff.
Good luck to NASA in its efforts to have taxes raised in order to finance its ambitions.
I think not
Never look on the bright side, do you Gopher?

Keep going NASA, may we boldly go where no man has gone before.

Yes, I'm a Star Trek fan.
Any NASA project that works on building up our space muscles and prowess on alien
worlds is a necessity.

One day when the Sun gets older, it will supernova out to Earth's orbit and not one Historical Society's
pet project will be preserved, except maybe in some hologram.
I'm a trekie fan too, I hated when my father would watch it as a kid, but now it's hard-wired in my brain, and I do like it alot. I'm curious what they plan on doing when they get there. I mean is it just to prepare for the Mars missions, and what do they plan on doing on Mars that can't be done on the ISS.
Last edited by Tonington; Dec 6th, 2006 at 09:57 AM..
I think you over-estimate (by a large margin) the amount of money NASA uses. In the finance department NASA gets the equivalent of the loose change left in the couch.

If the money spent on the Iraq war (im not making statements on if thats good or bad thing, thats another debate, its just something to envision as a monetary sum and how hard it hit America) we could have a Martian base before 2015 and a moonbase before then.

NASA is not well funded (ok, not as well funded as it COULD be if you really wanted to go into space)
Zzarchov, you got the funding picture right on NASA.

They are getting the equivalent of loose change found under the cushions of that giant fiscal
I saw an interesting peice about this on the CBC's The Hour last night. Some interesting points were mentioned. I was half asleep when it was on but if I heard correctly, at this point the field is open... Besides the nations mentioned, there's corporate and private interests looking into the feasability of moon resorts, resource mining, etc. Obtaining land on the moon is being compared to the Wild West... first ones there get the prize. Prime real estate there is the south pole due to it's longer exposure to light.

Also of interest is which, if any laws will be applicable. International laws may work, but it isn't known yet if they will actually be applicable and/or enforceable.

Then there's the health concerns. Apparently they're conducting studies to see what long-term effects the dust on the moon will have on humans... apparently it ripped the astronauts' suits up due to it's corrosive properties.

I'm interested to see how these issues and questions will play out. I'm surprised they're not addressing some of this stuff first, particularly how borders, land grabs and laws will work. Could get mucky.
Theres other health concerns to consider, such as the long term effects of lowered gravity. As far as resources goes though, I can't see any point to sending large bulky mining equipment to the Moon or Mars, until the technology to send things into space is cheap enough to be cost-effective. Maybe if they find some large Uranium deposit, but still the energy required to get the equipment there and back is mind boggling. The best source of extra terrestrial enegy is sunlight, but still the preoblem of how do you get it back here?

Without question, we need to be out there to answer some of these questions, and it definitely is a step worth considering, for times when things may not be so clear.
Quote: Originally Posted by jimmoyerView Post

Any NASA project that works on building up our space muscles and prowess on alien
worlds is a necessity.

One day when the Sun gets older, it will supernova out to Earth's orbit and not one Historical Society's
pet project will be preserved, except maybe in some hologram.

I don't think our sun is large enough to go supernova, though it could at some time turn into a red giant.

The Death of our Sun
We get up every morning and experience the wonderful light from our sun. We take our medium-sized star for granted and usually don't take the time to think about its life-giving powers. The sun heats our planet, provides the energy for plants and animals to grow, and prevents the earth from becoming a cold, lifeless chunk of rock. It is reassuring to know that during our life time, and the life time of our children, and of their children, our faithful star will continue to shine and support life. However, in the distant future our world and our sun will die a violent death.
Our star, the sun, was born in the heavens about 4.5 billion years ago. Our sun is about 1/3 of the way through its expected life. Scientists are now predicting the following events during the remaining life of our star:
  • In the next 1.1 billion years, its brightness will increase by 10%. This will super-heat our planet as a result of a severe greenhouse effect. All of the oceans on earth will boil away and all life will be destroyed.
  • In about 6.5 billion years, our sun will double in brightness and use up all of its supply of hydrogen fuel in its core. This will cause the sun to begin swelling as it uses hydrogen from the layers surrounding the core.
  • In about 8 billion years the sun will swell to 166 times its present size. This giant star will swallow up Mercury, Venus, and maybe even our Earth. Our sun will then be what scientists call a Red Giant because it will be very large and red in color.
  • After all hydrogen fuel is used, the sun will begin to use helium as its fuel. This fuel will burn very quickly and only last about 100 million years.
  • In about 12 billion years, the sun will eject much of its outer layers and become a smoldering, collapsed core that scientists would call a White Dwarf.
This will certainly be a violent end for our sun and the earth. This does not, however, mean the end of the human race. If our science and technology capability continues to advance, we may be able to explore and colonize other worlds. Home, for future humans, may be billions and billions of miles from our home world of earth.
I agree entirely Tonington, but I think the mentality is get the land first, particularly the most potentially lucrative spots, and worry about the deets later.
Can't argue with that, Cnada should go for the North Pole! I wonder how many mountains and canyons have been named, could be the next venue for the super rich adventurists.
I think not
Quote: Originally Posted by ToningtonView Post

Can't argue with that, Cnada should go for the North Pole! I wonder how many mountains and canyons have been named, could be the next venue for the super rich adventurists.

The North Pole is made up entirely of ice. Better head South instead.
True, but the settlement wouldn't need tp be directly on the pole, and proximity to ice would mean they could make drinking water, oxygen and hydrogen for rocket fuel. A fellow by the name of Ben Bussey from John Hopkins thinks a crater near the north pole called Peary crater is the ideal spot.

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