Moon Society Endorses Aldrin's Proposal for a
Lunar Infrastructure Development Corporation

"A Different Kind of Moon Race"

From Moon Society President, Peter Kokh

October 12, 2009 - Moon Society Vice-President Charles F. Radley and President Peter Kokh received a personal request from Buzz Aldrin to endorse his proposal for a public/private/international plan to open the Moon for exploration and development.

The proposal was subsequently published in the Huffington Post

Below are key excerpts:
  • “I propose instead America call the world to the Moon. In a new global effort to use the Moon to establish a global space consortium with a lunar surface facility as its epicenter,  “
  • “... competition, in an Apollo-style race back to the Moon, would be a fruitless exercise in national hubris whose rewards, if we “won” again, would prove fleeting”
  • “I am proposing a different way back to the Moon: international collaboration.  “
  • “... the goal of creating a new public-private partnership to develop the Moon. I call it the Lunar Infrastructure Development Corporation (LIDC). The purpose of the LIDC would be to enable the nations of the Earth to join together and return to the Moon as an international cooperative venture.  The LIDC will pool the financial, technical and human resources of its member nations to build the lunar communication, navigation and transportation systems needed for human exploration of the Moon. It would be a public/private global partnership to make the Moon accessible to all humanity. The LIDC will build the communication and navigation satellites needed by future lunar travelers, develop fuel depots using lunar LOX – perhaps derived from the recently discovered lunar water-and construct habitats that will shelter space travelers while on the surface. It will enable a sustainable human presence on the Moon that will be accessible to all the nations on Earth. “
  • “Unlike the International Space Station (ISS), which is governed by complex treaties, the LIDC will have the same flexibility as an NGO in working with different nations and private entities to finance build and operate the facilities and equipment needed for lunar exploration. “
  • “To do so [i.e., honoring the astronauts of the Apollo Era Missions] doesn’t require rerunning a long-ago Cold War race in which America plays the role of a space-going Colonial power.
We immediately notified all Moon Society Officers and Directors, who collectively make up the Management Committee who would decide whether or not to give the Moon Society's official endorsement.

The email vote was unanimous. As Ben Nault, Director from Tucson, put it:
“Probably the main reason the ISS is still "alive" and supported by Congress is that it is part of a number of international agreements. Backing out of these agreement would have financial, political and diplomatic repercussions on the US. Therefore, having an international component helps large complex programs survive the transition to different administrations and different congressional moods. The international angle gives long-term "sustainability" to the Lunar Infrastructure Development Corporation. “
In asking for Committee member support, we pointed out significant similarities with our own proposal, also strongly endorsed by Committee members, for an International Lunar Research Park. Both proposals are for public/private/international collaboration.

There are, of course, those who would prefer a NASA-stand alone effort, and those who would prefer a purely private enterprise approach. But a reality check shows that the public/private/international approach will be much more robust, and stand a much greater chance of becoming a permanent beachhead on the Moon. It is also much more likely to lead to the first civilian industrial settlement.

And that is precisely the Vision of the Moon Society.

We expect that the National Space Society will follow suite. We hope that the Space Frontier Foundation will do the same.

While Buzz Aldrin has close ties to the Planetary Society and to the Mars Society, the support of those groups may be harder to pin down.

The Moon Society strongly supports both the human exploration of Mars and the opening of the Martian Frontier, apace with the further manned exploration and development of the Moon.  Why? because both frontiers stand a much greater chance of becoming economically sustainable as mutual trading partners,  than either frontier does on its own.

International acceptance of Aldrin's plan for the Moon could soon lead to a similar approach to Mars. While Mars catches the public fancy, selling a Martian Frontier without any Economic Case for Mars having been outlined, is simply not going to fly. And the foundation for an economic case for Mars starts with mutual trade with the Moon, for products and services that will be more inexpensively sourced from each other than from Earth.

To realize either concept, Aldrin's LIDC and our own ILRP, a revolution in space transportation needs to occur.
We are not talking exclusively, or mainly about new cheaper rocket technologies, but about putting aside the true but absolutely irrelevant strictures of the mass-fraction rule about the size of payloads in relation to the size of rocket.
What makes this "rule" irrelevant is that it silently (and to that extent dishonestly) excludes the mass of the rocket minus fuel as part of the payload.
If all rocket components reaching low Earth orbit were parked there awaiting salvage and or cannibalization for the construction of in orbit facilities that made launching from LEO towards the Moon more economical, and if all rocket components reaching the Earth-Moon Lagrange 1 point where the gravities of Earth and Moon cancel out, were similarly parked there awaiting cannibalization for the construction of an L1 Depot from which payloads could be more economically delivered to the Moon's surface, the economics of a lunar build-up would change significantly.
The difference is similar to an effort to drive from New York to Los Angeles carrying all your fuel with you, as opposed to refueling at gas stations along the way. NASA has never wanted to be distracted by the common sense plan of deploying fuel stations, repair facilities, etc. along the way.  The reason, of course, is that is not a good use of money for a one-time or time-limited lunar deployment. But we are looking long range, at a significant and permanent lunar buildout, and the NASA approach makes no sense at all in that context.
The proposed Lunar Infrastructure development Corporation will begin by addressing that very issue.
Doing so, laying infrastructure at key points along the way, will make all the difference in the world economically.

The Moon Society urges other pro-space organizations, the public, and the media to support Buzz Aldrin's proposal.


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