FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Monday, March 27, 2006

Permanent Moon Base By 2020?

NASA is planning to develop a Moon base by 2020 to serve as a way-station for missions to Mars... though with competing priorities and limited budgets, that timetable may be optimistic.

Building a permanent base will be an enormous undertaking, considering not only the hostile lunar environment, but the need to develop whole new technologies to build and power the colony, establish a supply chain, and learn how to deal with the health and psychological implications of life on the Moon.

Some observers believe that the impetus for a Moon colony goes beyond the scientific. Just as the Apollo missions to the Moon were part of a space race between the US and the Soviet Union, a driving force in future lunar missions will be similarly political. "The new thing is China, and they've announced they're going to the moon. The Europeans want to go; the Russians want to go; and if we don't go, maybe they'll go with the Chinese," Mars Institute Chairman Pascal Lee said in an interview. "Could we bypass the moon and go to Mars while India and China are going to the moon? I don't think so."

A strong candidate for the first lunar colony is the Moon's south pole, which has virtually permanent sunlight and possible ice reserves from impacted comets.

Source: MSNBC