Making Money on the Moon

Billionaire Naveen Jain, co-founder and chairman of Moon Express Inc., wants to put a mine on the moon. With the end of the Space Shuttle program (and thus the end of NASA's subsidized roll in space transportation,) Jain sees new opportunities for private enterprise in space according to FoxNews.com:

"The end of the shuttle program wasn't the end of the moon mission, it was simply passing the baton from the public to the private sector," Jain told FoxNews.com.

He believes it will cost a pittance -- under a hundred million dollars -- to go back to the moon.

"There's a tremendous amount of waste in the government. Private companies can do things better," he said.

Jain's company would purchase private space transportation from companies filling the vacuum left by the death of the shuttle. The company would then mine the titanium, platinum, and helium 3 found in abundance on the moon, which Jain claimed would be relatively inexpensive compared to the "pittance" it would cost to get there.

See Reason's extensive archives on space and NASA.

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  • Cliché Bandit||

    Agreed that there i a lot of waste in the shitty organization called NASA but we still need a fundamental shift in heavy lift technology. The power ratios are way to high, even metaqlic hydrogen at 5x current thurst ratios would not really be a signifdicant long term solution.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    Perhaps a rocket based on misspellings...could be huge.

  • ||

    Dude, space elevator.

  • ||

    SPACE CATAPULTS

  • ||

    Catapults will work on the moon where there's no atmospher. But not for getting stuff off the earth.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    I imagine you are being facetious but in case you aren't: rapid acceleration is just as much a bitch as rapid decleration, great for goods, poor for people.

  • ||

    We can use mass drivers to launch materials into space from the Moon. . .and from asteroids for that matter. Of course, how to get them to Earth without making a mess on the surface is another challenge.

  • Tim||

    The solution is to put the factories in space. Maybe by 2100

  • ||

    Screw that--I'll be dead by then.

  • ||

    All it takes is making it longer, so that a lower acceleration will still get you to escape velocity. According to Wolfram alpha, that's 2376 meters per second. At 1G I get 242 seconds to reach that speed which takes a distance of about 576 kilometers.

    -jcr

  • ||

    And because the escape velocity of the Moon is less than that of earth it might still be possible to use mass drivers for humans travelling off the moon.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    you could conceivably reduce the inertial impact by traveling in fluid...like that pink hyperoxy stuff.

  • Brett L||

    After The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, nobody is putting a mass driver on the moon.

  • Chris||

    Stratospheric balloons could save a ton on fuel. Like in Red Star . . Winter Orbit.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    Like the guy who took picutres from space for $85? That was cool.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    sorry, $750

  • ||

    great for goods, poor for people.

    Why do you need people on the moon to mine and transport the mined materials again?

  • ||

    Skip heavy lift altogether. Use fuel depots. Lots and lots of cheaper options.

  • ||

    Kinda what I was thinking too, only with fewer typos ;-)

    Given current technology, would a $100 million moonshot really be able to bring back enough payload just to break even? Even if it was carrying titanium?

  • Cliché Bandit||

    Well the return of product is simply a small math problem (launch towards earth, wait, pick up floating in ocean). Whate we really need is to understand gravity (not describe gravity. I mean understand gravity). The quantum theory of gravity is bunk (IMHO) and I think the Higgs is not real...but I digress. Most on this board know of my affinity for Van Flandern.

  • Zeb||

    What quantum theory of gravity?

  • ||

    I was going to ask the same question. I mean, I have one somewhere in my attic, but I thought that was one of the grails of physics--basically, conforming relativity with quantum theory.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    I am referring to the whole Higgs is the maker of mass, unified approach that everyone is taking these days. I dont see a unified theory coming from quantum theroy...I think QT has too many holes.

  • ||

    The Standard Model beats the shit out of string theory. Quantum gravity is at least a testable approach.

    We should know whether the Higgs boson exists soon. If not, back to the drawing board!

  • Cliché Bandit||

    Meta Model all the way.

  • ||

    Frankly, I'm more interested in the Higgs Bosom research.

  • Binky||

    The subject is strange, but has a certain charm.

  • ||

    Sigh.

  • ||

    Quantum gravity is at least a testable approach.

    I always wondered why the smallest object's determined the property of larger objects...

    Why can't this be reversed? ie larger objects determine the property of smaller objects.

    This approach in my opinion would explain why QT is so convoluted and fucked when trying to link it with relativity.

  • Brett L||

    Huh? QT arose because of inexplicable observations that pretty much hulled the continuous theory of energy. All the shit that arises out of it is complex, but it's a really elegant way of describing why electrons absorb and emit on certain frequencies that are all integer multiples of each other. QT is the simplest explanation that fits the data. And very well examined, btw. It may not be complete, but it sure does an excellent job of describing a broad swath of phenomena.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    We don't have transporters yet?

  • ||

    Not for little people like you.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Once I get that motivator fixed, I'll hyperdrive out of here.

  • CE||

    When my prototype is finished, you can test it out first.

  • ||

    The "shitty organization" that nevertheless, somehow, managed to land human beings on the moon and return them safely to the earth. Repeatedly. A feat that has not yet been replicated by anyone else in over forty years.

    Which isn't to cheerlead for continued big govt space projects, but credit where credit is due.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    Becuase it is prohibited not becuase it wasnt desired or possible or profitable.

  • ||

    I admire the success of Apollo, but I also deplore the failure of NASA to do anything to create a sustained presence in space in the forty years since then. Other than the secret base on the Moon, of course.

  • ||

    NASA never set the goals. The politicians set the goals and NASA realized them. It was lack of political will that caused us to not have a permanent moon base.

  • ||

    Isn't that what Leif Erikson said about the Viking landings in North America. I'm sorry I'm seeing a one off based on limited technology. Hopefully it won't take 300 years but I don't think we're quite where we need to be technology wise for space colonization.

  • ||

    I wish it were true that NASA was merely the victim of politics, but the politicians run the agency from the inside, too. The political nonsense is, unfortunately, endemic. There have been and are great people and even great ideas there. But they aren't able to do the kind of things we need to exploit space.

  • CE||

    I'm workin' up a powerful thurst for metaqlic hydrogen, barkeep!

  • Occupator||

    It's not enough that corporations want to enslave the population and destroy the earth. Now they want to destroy the moon too! I'm just sure that Mars is next in line after moon as well.

  • KDN||

    Officer, am I free to gambol across the Sea of Tranquility?

  • CE||

    Yes, but we'll need your oxygen mask first.

  • A Secret Band of Robbers||

    Moongambol!

  • Apatheist||

    WI would find himself quickly thrown out an airlock in Luna City.

  • ||

    I want to see him try that "arbitrary lines" BS while trying to claim-jump an ice miner. Free Luna!

  • ||

    Strip-mining the moon is great litmus paper to expose the intellectual bankruptcy of any green activists you come across. There are zero reasonable objections to it, but not one in a thousand would fail to oppose it.

  • ||

    Preserve the Magnificent Desolation!

  • WTF Greentard||

    But if they strip mine the moon, eventually there will no longer be a magnificent moon in the evening sky for our children to admire because it will all be here!

  • asdf||

    LOL

  • ||

    Yup. I was watching some forum on colonizing Mars on CSPAN a while back. There were a bunch of people claiming that if there is so much as an alien microbe on Mars, man shouldn't colonize it or try to terraform it. Jesus, I can understand not wiping out an intelligent alien species. But we are supposed to refrain from colonizing a new world for the sake of a microbe?

  • ||

    It would be a very long time before we could do much damage to native life, anyway. I'd want to try to preserve it for scientific purposes, but it's a whole planet without any real hope of being home to anything more advanced than a fungus. I think it would be entirely moral for us to terraform it.

  • ||

    You just think that Pro because you are a speciesist and think that being advanced is better than being primitive and existence is better than nonexistence. You should talk to White Indian more so he can debase you of these ideas.

  • WTF ||

    Maybe White Idiot could gambol about the Moon.

  • KDN||

    Careful, he'll show up to count coup on you. I'm happy that he's taking English Lit this semester, he may be a bit more tolerable when obsessed with Shakespeare instead.

  • Chris||

    gambol

    To be honest, that meme can't die soon enough even if it is used to ridicule a fuckhead.

  • ||

    Frankly, I like archaic words. I think we should use them around here more often. People who disagree need a good anointing, if you ask me.

  • ||

    "Gambol" is the new "Winning"

  • T||

    So we're all Gamboling The Future?

  • ||

    I thought Gambol was the guy in Dark Knight who did the magic trick.

  • The Art-P.O.G.||

    Ha, yes. And on a related note, Black Dynamite is really good.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    It is moral to terraform. If the highest show of morality is the perpetuation of the species, then terraforming is a no brainer.

  • ||

    I know what anti-terraforming environmentalist wackos are going to call terraforming: Terrorforming.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Stop giving them ideas

  • ||

    It's my curse to come up with good marketing slogans for the opposition.

  • The Art-P.O.G.||

    Damn, Pro-Lib, that's like a Greek tragedy. I mean comedy.

  • ||

    It's an epic curse, no doubt.

  • ||

    We can safely say that everything Greek is a tragedy now. Or a comedy. Depending on the protest.

  • Apocalitarian||

    No that's the plan to nuke their protests. Also, colony drop.

  • robc||

    The "Reds" from the Robinson Mars trilogy.

  • ||

    I quit reading that somewhere in the first book. It had some good stuff, but I kept rolling my eyes at the way people were behaving.

  • Chris||

    He is truly awful. And an academic trend follower, to boot. The worst kind of awful.

  • robc||

    It took me two tries to read the first book. Then two tries to read the second. I never made try two at the third.

  • The Bearded Hobbit||

    I tried the first book, quit, then tried it again. Never made it past halfway. I'm not sure I've ever finished a KSR book.

    ... Hobbit

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Finished the first 2, but couldn't get through the last one.

  • Coeus||

    Ditto

  • ||

    Do you really want your children and your grandchildren to look up at a deforested moon that's been raped of its natural beauty? Isn't that a "reasonable" enough "objection" for you?

    Thug.

  • ||

    I say terraform the Moon. Put trees and cute little animals on it.

  • ||

    We need to pick the animals that can hold their breath the longest. Blue whales would be a good start.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    I envision thousands of exploding bunnies on the moon.

    (exploding bunnies on the moon...definite band or bogus)

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    The sick side of me laughed

  • ||

    All of me laughed. But I don't think they would explode, per se; more like all the gas trapped in solution in their blood would rapidly offgas (boil), exactly like a bottle of soda that's opened after it's been shaken. Think of the worst case of the bends, times four billion.

    So while there would be plenty of twitching and convulsing and bleeding from bodily openings, I think those hoping for an actual detonation would be bitterly disappointed. And those hoping for screaming really should know better.

  • ||

    We'll definitely need some Amazon women.

  • ||

    But when don't we?

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    And a caretaker, somebody like Bruce Dern, with some lame-ass robots for backup

  • ||

    That's just on some ship. I'm talking breathable atmosphere and low-gravity fun for tourists. Golf, amusements parks, porn, what have you.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    ProL, bringing Anaheim to the moon.

    I want zero gravity acid trip space modules with padded walls. Expand my horizons, Steve Jobs style.

  • Zeb||

    "zero gravity acid trip space modules with padded walls"

    That could possibly be the greatest thing ever.

  • ||

    I was thinking more Orlando, but same thing, really.

    Zero gravity whoretels will be available before we're back on the Moon, I'm sure.

  • Apocalitarian||

    In Mobile Suit Gundam, the arms manufacturer on the moon is call Anahiem Electronics.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Golf, amusements parks, porn, what have you.

    This sounds like the perfect place for my opium den / strip club idea.

  • ||

    Sure, go ahead. Just remember to do it all under the name of a country that didn't sign the Moon Treaty of the Outer Space Treaty.

  • ||

    Unless you're going to open a low-G brothel, don't even bother me with your meek plans.

  • ||

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/comm.....nt.comment

    From the comments:

    If i had a way i would destroy all of mankind's ventures outside of the Earth, at least until he learns to appreciate and protect - this world. We should stay here until we prove ourselves worthy of existence by learning to live here peacefully with each other - in harmony with our environment.

  • ||

    Dude watched too much Grizzly Adams as a kid. Really, it's not all are fault--do you really think the rest of the planet would live in harmony with us?

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    learning to live here peacefully with each other

    Ain't gonna' happen, it's better to make space between us, increase our odds.

  • ||

    If this involves electromagnetic catapults and TANSTAAFL, I approve.

  • Name Nomad||

    And the polygamy. That's a major draw, too.

  • Apatheist||

    You don't have to leave the planet to do that.

  • Warty||

    I can't wait to hear unions complaining about the robot miners on the moon stealing their jobs. I love that we're living in the future.

  • Nipplemancer||

    Unionize the robots before they start bitching I submit:
    The Intergalactic Brotherhood of Lunar Robot Miners, pipefitters, and shovel-leaners - IBLRMPSL

  • ||

    Most of the world would try to stop him - the UN Moon Treaty was never passed, but they would try to use it against him.

  • Gojira||

    I have it on good authority that they make money on the moon by cashing gov't checks, which may later turn out to be radioactive healthcare bills.

    /ATHF

  • Coeus||

    You are the moon master.

  • CrackertyAssCracker||

    threadjack: anybody see this? It is some grade-A slaver bootlicking

    http://thehill.com/blogs/pundi.....-authority

  • Warty||

    They could very well find them in authors like Thomas Woods, or at Judge Andrew Napolitano’s Freedom Watch or at the 10th Amendment Center, a Petri dish for brilliant new constitutional thinking. And if the grown-ups don’t get it right this time, they may find no other options.

    HAHAHAHAHA

  • ||

    I’ve been following this descent since Bill Clinton’s Elvis caricature followed in his inauguration parade. It was all good fun, no? A president with the moral overview of the hunka-hunka burnin’ love himself. Maybe not. At the beginning of the Clinton presidency I felt we had turned the corner and entered the vestry of the place of no return. I wasn’t alone. It was then that alternative government, secession and regional thinking began. It began with the League of the South and, in New England, the New England Confederation. The idea cross-cultured and took steam in the Bush administration and took off in Obama’s moment. There are now dozens of states’-rights and sovereignty movements across the continent. And the so-called "Occupy" movement resembles the Pirandello play in which the actors are in search of an author.

    Could someone translate that for me? I don't speak smug as well as I used to.

  • BakedPenguin||

    At least the people commenting on that cut him up well.

  • ||

    Well you know the last time we had a lot of talk of succession and regional thinking it turned so well.

  • BakedPenguin||

    I think he was speaking against those things, but I'm not sure, as I'm also not sure what point he had in bringing them up. That piece had less coherence than posts I've made here at 2 AM after drinking 9 beers.

    Of course, when someone states that Perry, Romney and Huntsman are the best candidates the Republicans have come up with in 50 years, you can't expect much.

  • ||

    That is funny. I thought he was speaking for those things. I wasn't kidding when I asked someone to translate it for me.

  • CrackertyAssCracker||

    I think his point is that all us rubes aren't taking the Top Men seriously enough, and if we can't figure out how to get one of these brilliant statesman (Hunstman,Romney,Perry) elected, then the world is going to end because people might start paying attention to nasty evil men like Tom Woods, Ron Paul, and Judge Napalitano.

  • Apatheist||

    "Three of the Republican candidates for president, Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and Jon Huntsman, are of the highest caliber, on a level we have barely seen in the post-war period."

    Highest caliber assholes maybe. Jesus that is the most retarded thing I've read in weeks. I'd rather gambol across the plains with WI than hang out with this guy.

  • ||

    Top Men.

  • Joe M||

    Pretty much every single comment on that article is mocking its author, so that's good.

  • Sparky||

    What went wrong? Everything. There is something wrong with everything: the government, the press, the people.

    He's right about that. But I don't think the thing that went wrong is what he thinks it is.

  • Carlo Pietro Giovanni Ponzi||

    I wish I thought of this one

  • SIV||

    So they don't need Saturn Vs to escape LEO anymore ? I think they would cost a bit more than $100 million... a piece.

  • ||

    You only need heavy lift like that if you're launching everything on one rocket.

  • Sam Rockwell||

    Oh, no no no.

  • Sam Rockwell||

    Three years, man. They told me three years.

  • Sam Rockwell||

    I don't know who this asshole is, but he better get off this board soon.

  • ||

    Nice.

  • Tman||

    Beat me by 2 minutes.

  • Sam Rockwell||

    Who the fuck are you?

  • GERTY||

    I think perhaps you are imagining things. :(

  • Apatheist||

    The moon, asteroids, mars and beyond. There is a lot of money in space waiting to be made.

  • ||

    I hope so. If there is, man has a future in space. If the future is only continued national vanity projects, there is no future.

  • Apatheist||

    Being 25, it is quite possible that it will happen in my lifetime and the singularity as well. So while I am incredibly pessimistic about the future of our government I hold out hope to escape one way or the other.

  • ||

    I am ready for the singularity and space travel. I am just not cut out for this world.

  • ||

    Meet me on the Freehold of Grainne.

  • T||

    I'll be on the first freighter out if the Freehold exists in my lifetime.

  • kinnath||

    A childhood's end then?

  • ||

    I like that book.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    A good show of Clarke's collectivist tendencies

  • ||

    It's not to say that I like the result, but it's an interesting story.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    I wasn't degrading the book overall, I enjoyed it. It's just that Clarke's commie/authoritarian side was showing pretty strongly, almost as strongly as it was in 3001.

    I liked Rendezvous with Rama more.

  • robc||

    I think I completely missed the point of Rendezvous with Rame.

    I just dont get it.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Not sure there was a point. A refreshing change of pace from Clarke.

  • ||

    A good show of Clarke's collectivist tendencies

    What?

    I fail to see how the "collective" in that book could be described as anything other then nightmarish.

  • kinnath||

    Me too, although I haven't read it in about 30 years.

  • Tman||

    Easy peasey. We just have to fool some clones in to thinking they are only working a 3 month shift and voila! Problem solved.

    (great, great film btw...)

  • ||

    Clones are stupid that way.
    We'll be replacing the public school teachers with clones soon also.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    It was ok.

  • Tman||

    OK? The fuck you say. Rockwell was AWESOME in that movie. How many actors can play two characters that are essentially the same person yet were played as two completely different individuals?

    Best sci-fi film in the last ten years.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    Predictable and above average. I stand by my "ok".

  • Tman||

    So you're one of those "I saw the plot twist coming miles away" kinds of folks.

    Always a blast to bring to movies like this.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    even when i do catch on I NEVER spoil it for others...cause mostly I am the other, not the one who cought on. Example, When I saw T2 in theatres I though Arnie was still the bad guy...looked like a fucking moron when I exclaimed "no way"

  • Tman||

    Ok that was funny.

    How about Usual Suspects? Did you know that twist in the beginning or not?

  • Cliché Bandit||

    Totally didnt get it until right before the ending montage around the office.

  • Chris||

    It occurred to me, but I wasn't at all sure that is where it was going to go.

    Also, I was so out of the loop on Sixth Sense, I turned to my brother and asked 'What's the deal with the watch?'

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    I still haven't seen the Usual Suspects

  • ||

    How about Usual Suspects? Did you know that twist in the beginning or not?

    speaking about spoilers who wants to know what happens to Jon Snow in the latest Game of Thrones novel?

  • ||

    I guessed it, but not so early as to ruin the movie.

  • GILMORE||

    Tman correct. Bandit fail. Rockwell carries film singlehandedly.

  • ||

    I thought it was good and a refreshing change from the usual crappy stuff we see in science fiction films.

  • Matt||

    I was about to mention this movie. It was awesome! Everything felt "authentic" in a way few sci-fi movies do these days.

  • Tman||

    Jones worked with Bill Pearson, the supervising model maker on Alien, to help design the lunar rovers and helium-3 harvesters in the film, which gave it more of that "authentic" feel you refer to than the standard CGI mush we see these days.

    They made the movie for $5 million in 33 days. If only more movies were made with this much care and crafting.

  • Shmenge||

    Source Code, by the same director (who btw is David Bowie's son) was pretty good too.

  • Zeb||

    I need to see that before people ruin it for me any more.

  • Jess Asken||

    He believes it will cost a pittance -- under a hundred million dollars -- to go back to the moon.

    How much does he believe it will cost to return to Earth?

  • Cliché Bandit||

    Guys...they way down is a shitload easier than the way up...the Earth kind of insures that. Your only real costs are prevention of atmoispheric combustion and splat factors.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    "atmospheric combustion and splat factors"

    Minor nuisances really

  • Jess Asken||

    So ... Zero?

  • asdf||

    How will property rights work for the moon, did America claim the whole thing with Apollo?

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Here's the planning commission

    http://www.moontwp.com/boards/planning.html

  • ||

    No, we didn't claim it. Under the Outer Space Treaty, which we signed, we can't claim bodies. However, I don't think that restricts commercial ventures or even claims over property actually being used.

    There is the Moon Treaty, which is crazy socialist crap (similar to the Antarctic Treaty), but we didn't sign it. In fact, no one who has sent anything to the Moon did, I believe.

    Frankly, this idea that governments have the ability to tell people what they can and can't do in space is a little silly.

  • Astro Travis Bickle||

    Under the Outer Space Treaty, which we signed, we can't claim bodies.

    Are meteorites considered unclaimable? How about sunlight?

  • ||

    Here are a couple of important points from the treaty:

    * The activities of non-governmental entities in outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, shall require authorization and continuing supervision by the appropriate State Party to the Treaty.

    * Outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means.

    The first means that an American company is subject to U.S. law when it's flitting about in space. The second means we can't claim jurisdiction over space, the Moon, or other "celestial bodies."

    I don't know that "celestial bodies" has ever been defined. Frankly, I think the whole thing will likely get a serious work-over if major exploitation of the Moon, etc. starts happening on a commercial level.

  • robc||

    This is why you fly the flag of Vanuatu* or something if you go to the moon commercially.

    *No idea if they signed the treaty or not, but you get the idea.

  • ||

    Had the same idea. However, while the treaty is decent for protecting astronauts and stuff like that, the U.S. has every reason to repudiate it if SpaceX et al. start getting people to the Moon and elsewhere.

  • robc||

    SpaceX would be the American parent company, but it is their Vanuatu subsidiary MoonX that is doing all the treaty violating moon stuff.

    Nothing we can do about it.

  • ||

    Yeah, that's just too bad, isn't it?

  • BakedPenguin||

    "Space, Inc. flies ships of Liberian and Panamanian registry..."

  • Zeb||

    Meteorites are rocks on Earth, so they are not celestial bodies. All of the photons of sunlight that fall on my body or my real property are mine and mine alone.

  • ||

    I assumed he meant meteoroids. Agreed on meteorites.

  • WarrenT||

    What do the Rocky movies have to do with it?

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    The moon's going to belong to the first ones to set up a defensible base. That's going to be tough, but I imagine it will be the solution.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    Not really that hard to do. You don't even need a dozen stingers or anything just a couple of mirrors that you can move. Our technology is really fragile in space, a little ant & magnifying glass to any approaching craft and poof (without the poof sound of course).

  • ||

    I envision some sort of giant "laser."

  • ||

    I envision some sort of giant "laser."

    Nah. 100,000 basketball sized rocks with a small rockets attached orbiting around the earth the moon and the various Lagrange points will do.

    Lasers can be designed against pretty easy.

    Defending against Mass traveling at 1000s of miles per hour is not so easy.

  • ||

    I was making a Dr. Evil joke. Without an atmosphere, kinetic weapons are the way to go.

  • robc||

    Defensible is easy against any Earth based force. Drop rocks on them. At worst, you have a MAD situation.

    Against another space based force, its much harder.

  • ||

    Who ever gets there first and figures out how to drop big chunks of lunar rock onto earth cities gets to decide....

    There are advantages to being further up a gravity well then everyone else...

    Stone age peoples figured this out 1000s of years ago.

  • Spoonman.||

    Ore concentration on Earth is the product of extremely complicated tectonic and hydrothermal processes (ie, we have very little idea how it happens). As far as I know mining on the Moon would be with very low-grade ore, and concentrating energy from the sun enough to smelt it might be a problem.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    Lacking an atmosphere and with a 336 hour long day the moon is ideal for solar energy. Fuck, even Solyndra could make money up there.

  • O Yeh||

    But the labor would be done by prisoners.

  • ||

    concentrating energy from the sun enough to smelt it might be a problem.

    Smelting in a vacuum is a very different thing then smelting in an oxygen rich atmosphere.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cold_welding

  • Tim||

    The moon is a harsh mistress.

  • Shmenge||

    Giant steps are what you take, walking on the moon.

  • GILMORE||

    T-minus 30 seconds before someone references the corporate-takeover of space as described in Infinite Jest, where Coca Cola ends the soda wars by blowing up a few distant suns, creating a perpetual "Coke is It" sign in the nighttime sky...

  • Zeb||

    That was a remarkably good prediction. Unless you are also Rich.

  • Rich||

    Weird, huh? ;-)

  • Rich||

    The mining could be done in a manner to provide messages/images visible from Earth. Self-financed through advertisement.

  • ||

    You know damn well that the advertising would be for medicare scooters.

  • Rich||

    That, and "Jacob ♥ Heather".

  • H. Reardon||

    Given current technology, would a $100 million moonshot really be able to bring back enough payload just to break even? Even if it was carrying titanium?

    It is not difficult to find titanium on earth. It is the 9th most common element in the earth's crust. The high cost of titanium is largely due to the expensive process by which it is extracted from it's ore. Unless this guy is going to build a titanium ore processing plant on the moon, he's talking out his ass.

  • Naveen Jain||

    You laugh, but that is how we get the methane for smelting.

  • ||

    I just read something about titanium being a possible energy source there. And, of course, there appears to be a decent amount of ice and--soon as we get fusion--there's all that H3.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    damn youand your 4 minute time machine.

  • ||

    It's sad when you have to rip off a lawyer for your scientific insights :)

  • Cliché Bandit||

    H3 would be the highest margin product up there by far. It is light, compact, and sitting on the surface. It is incredibly expensive and difficult to make down here. Ergo, if fusion ever gets better H3 will drive almost all local space exporation funding.

  • Tim||

    That's a lot of ifs.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    well, just one big if but I think low temp fusion is nearly a forgone conclusion. several decades at best.

  • ||

    We have this insanely transformative possibility before us, yet it's always decades away. Fuck!

  • Cliché Bandit||

    you are killin my optimistic mojo over here.

  • ||

    I keep hoping to one day read a headline--a non-bullshit headline, mind you--that says we've cracked the fusion nut.

  • Tim||

    You're right to be forward looking, There are lots of problems but history indicates that we will overcome them. As I mentioned below, if you told people in Boston in 1800 that Texas oil was the next big deal they'd be making objections like:

    -Getting to Texas is dangerous and difficult.

    -We can't dig holes deep enough to get that oil.

    -we can't build a wagon big enough or breed horses strong enough to haul that oil back to Boston.

    -What the hell is wrong with safe, affordable whale oil?

  • Topher Morrison||

    Good by NASA, hello Space Age! There are a ton of companies out there willing to risk blood and treasure to touch the stars! Get government and these celestial welfare queens out of the way and make room for 21st century entrepreneurs!

    See:http://www.purpleserf.com/2011/07/goodbye-nasa-hello-space-age.html

  • Tim||

    This is sort of like a bunch of guys in powdered whigs sitting around a table in 1800 discussing oil in Texas.

  • ||

    In powdered "whigs"? That sounds pretty kinky. I don't think a lot of that was going on back then, to be honest.

  • Tim||

    What you don't know could fill a library...

  • kinnath||

    Girls in powdered merkins......

  • Elder Scroll Enthusiat Au H20||

    Dude, everyone knows that the moon is for whalers.

  • robc||

    Finding that clip from futurama is hard. Finding the song is easy.

  • Lowdog||

    Well, Space X is spending the same amount to develop Falcon 9 as NASA spent to build a fucking launch pad for whatever new project that they eventually decide to stick with and actually build. Until, of course, the next president comes along and changes course again.

    There's also the thorny issue of who can own or profit from resources that aren't here on Earth. At the moment, technically, you can't, by international treaty.

  • ||

    I'm not sure that's right. It's true under the Moon Treaty, but no one worth a crap in space signed that. Not even China.

    There are some possible limits under the Outer Space Treaty, but they're not clear, and I suspect that a major U.S. manned space industry would quickly establish a new legal regime in space.

    U.S. dominance of manned space and space-based industry is a huge, huge deal if we want to remain the preeminent economic power. If not, fuck it.

  • ||

    Nobody owns the solar system. That makes all of it claimable by possession of reasonable size. This has always been true and enforceable. You enforce it by having enough people agree to do it reasonably so that no government or treaty can usurp it.

    It's natural law. Tyranny not required.

  • ||

    There's also the thorny issue of who can own or profit from resources that aren't here on Earth.

    Leaving aside the practical issue of who can stop you from owning or profiting from resources that aren't here on Earth, of course.

  • ||

    I tend to agree. People look to Antarctica like it's somehow relevant, but it really isn't. If there were a compelling economic case for exploiting the continent, I'm sure we'd be doing it.

  • Zeb||

    Did you know that the US and China have actually been fighting a secret war on the far side of the moon for over a decade?

  • ||

    Don't be silly. The only thing we have on the Moon is S.H.A.D.O.

  • robc||

    There is no dark side in the moon, really. As a matter of fact it's all dark.

  • A fan||

    Racist!!!

  • CE||

    Mine it? By launching heavy equipment there and then hauling heavy mineral ores back? Why not just use it as a giant billboard, and lease the space to various companies. A message displayed there would cover the entire earth.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Spoonman, does this thread make you regret not being a real engineer?

    Also, I saw in the morning links (but really late) that you went to Cornell. If I remember correctly, we're about the same age. When did you graduate?

  • BigT||

    Big Red. Fast Eddie. Fall Creek House. The Boxcar. Taughannock Falls. Fumio!!! Boffalongo. Carl Sagan.

    Good times!

  • Space Mark||

    This is the way it should be.

    Finally.

    Hare-brained schemes that cost a bazillion dollars invested by people other than me.

    For instance, had the private sector decided all on its own to go and make home loans to people regardless of their will or ability to repay the loans, I'm guessing the real estate market problem would have been just a little bit smaller.

  • ||

    Richard Branson could be the Howard Hughes of space travel if the government would just but out. We'd still be crossing the ocean by boat if the government had its nose this far up the air industry's ass a century ago.

  • WCOG||

    Richard Branson's company ain't shit. Suborbital flight is for space posers who want to waste lots of cash and accomplish nothing. I don't see the government being up his ass about anything beyond simple safety certifications, either. For that matter, Without "government meddling" there would be no aviation industry, since the aviation industry was initially created to service Government Air Mail routes and all of the technology in use for commercial products today was created through military development contracts. I know this is probably heresy around these parts but the federal government can generally take credit for the widespread use of the airplane.

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