The Moon Society's Vision and Mission Go Well Beyond
a First NASA Moonbase,
to an International Lunar Research Park

July 20, 2009 - Where we stand

As we reach the 40th Anniversary of the first manned Moon Landing by the Apollo 11 crew, we still do not know what direction NASA will be ordered to take by the Obama Administration. The directive to establish a permanently manned moonbase, given NASA by former President George W. Bush, has been essentially gutted by Congress through insufficient budgeting. It is possible that the anemic Moon program will be allowed to hobble on. It is also possible that NASA will be redirected to Mars.
The Society cannot entrust fulfilment of its Goals to an Agency that has no control over its own direction.
NASA had already been forced by Congress to retrench its goals to a permanent structure that could be revisited, a structure without biological life support, and without a program to learn how to use on-site materials. NASA has been forced into a position where, once again, it was designing a rung without consideration of how it would lead to the next rung above in the ladder to human occupation of the Solar System. Similarly, von Braun's dream of a space station that would serve as a depot and staging point for missions beyond Earth orbit, had been forced into quite a different role: Earth observation and remote sensing. While that research is unquestionably valuable, this first rung in the ladder now leads nowhere.

An International Lunar Research Park

But the International Space Station has been a great success as a cooperative effort by several nations. And this international cooperation is clearly something to build upon. Yet NASA, perhaps resentful that it must rely on Russian vehicles for Station resupply and crew changes, seems anxious to avoid such a situation on the Moon by "going it alone," despite interest shown by the Russia and other nations eager to participate in a joint program.

The Moon Society, as an International Organization is dedicated to the opening of the Lunar Frontier to agencies, corporations, enterprises, and pioneers of all nations.  To this end, our efforts are directed to the promotion of the concept of an International Lunar Research Park as has been first sketched in the MMM-India Quarterly, issue #2 pp. 20-25, with an expanded version of this idea in Moon Miners' Manifesto #224 April 2009, pp. 5-6.

Such a Research Park would be built and maintained by international contractors, serviced by contractors and enterprises, and provide space for outposts of various nations, all who choose to collaborate. That could include the US (NASA's preference to go-it-alone countered by government directive, Russia, China, India, Japan and perhaps others.

Such a Research Park would be heavily involved in development of building materials processed from local moondust and/or moondust imported from other regions of the Moon with differing chemical and mineralogical endowments. Roads and perhaps rails would radiate outward from this Research Park, as human presence on the Moon takes its first steps toward becoming global.

In time, a growing number of civilians would be working there, some choosing to extend their tours of duty, even indefinitely, becoming the first lunar pioneers and citizens.  While the various national lunar outposts, by themselves, are likely to lead to nothing significant, the magical cross-fertilizing recipe of several agency stations, of contractors and enterprises, would be poised to transform itself ("morph") over time into the first real lunar settlement.

The ILRP could be located at one of the Moon's poles, though higher resolution photographs by Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter are likely to reveal the now-favored Shackleton Rim site as too uneven, too rocky, too unbuildable, and the nearby water ice deposits as anything but economically recoverable in the near term. The north pole has the advantage of being much closer to a mare/highland coast (north coast of Mare Frigoris.) While "coast" here as an analogous meaning, nonetheless, as on Earth, coastal areas are likely to be the more heavily developed and populated over time, and for analogous reasons.

But location is not our topic here. The Moon Society firmly believes that an International Lunar Research Park is a concept pregnant with success, whereas individual agency outposts would never reach the critical mass of talents, equipment, research directions, and growth options to lead anywhere.

Multi-National Lunar Analog Research Station Programs

The Moon Society will continue to support the growing number of announced Lunar Analog Research Stations. There are so many directions of research that can be done at these facilities, each differently endowed, and with differing research programs. We are currently encouraging an analog research project in central Sweden, and another in northern Chile. India, Mexico, and Hawaii are likely to host analog stations. And, of course, we continue to refine our own multi-phase concept prior to identifying potential sites within the continental United States, and prior to mounting funding appeals.

Meanwhile, analog research activity of other organizations deserves close study. The Society sent our own crew to the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah, in early 2006 [crew 45], and learned much about what we'd like to copy, what we needed to do differently. The proposed Mars-Oz analog station in the Arkoola region of the state of South Australia, deserves study. In fact, we already have a website devoted to all of this analog activity,

Encouragement of Spin-Up Development of Technologies needed on the Moon

We strongly support a much more vigorous technology development program, than that so far engaged in by NASA. The idea is to identify technologies needed on the Moon, but not yet in hand, then brainstorming potentially profitable terrestrial applications, and encouraging entrepreneurs to develop these technologies, in an at least analogous form to what will be needed on the Moon, solely for those potentially profitable terrestrial applications. It makes no sense to take years to return to the Moon and only then start "ISRU" - on site materials utilization - once we get there. Why stretch out into a century developments that could be simultaneously developed in a decade?

Expansion of Moon Society Outreach beyond the English Speaking World

The Moon Society will pursue the above directions with supporting public outreach programs. The Society's current strong presence in English Speaking Countries, including India where English is a common second language, may expand next into the Spanish speaking world, as a result of efforts the Society is encouraging in Chile and in Mexico.

Development of updated public outreach media

Outside of Moon Miners' Manifesto and the Moon Society Website, there is little in the way of educational materials that supports the Society's ambitious Vision and Mission Goals.

Financing the opening of the Lunar Frontier

The Society's efforts cannot be limited to the support of any agency whose purse strings are controlled by forces indifferent to our goals. The attempt to develop space, space resources, and space frontiers, if left to taxpayers, will ultimately fail. As a Society is in our own interest to continue to help develop the rationale for prioritizing development of needed technologies that can be supported by the market of terrestrial consumers.

A Preamble to any Moon Treaty Revision

The Society will lead an effort to identify areas and features of special geological and scenic interest to be put on a list of areas on the Moon in which development should be forbidden or carefully restricted. If world-wide agreement is reached in this area, the fear that humans will spoil the Moon, one of the major "stumbling block issues" in the way of ratification of a Moon Treaty allowing resource development and settlement, will have been addressed, and with that, considerable Treaty opposition will be avoided.

The Moon Society needs You!

These goals and initiatives are ambitious and bold. We need the support and dedication of our growing membership base. If you are a member, please show your support by renewing. If you are a former member, we believe that our focus and direction deserve your reconsideration.  If you have never been a member of the Society but like what you see in our Vision and Mission Goals, please consider joining us, and encourage like-minded friends and others to do likewise.

The above serves as a sketch of a proposed, more detailed Policy Paper on which Society leaders are working.

Peter Kokh, President, The Moon Society


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