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Russians Look to Establish Permanent Moon Colony

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The moon has always had a tug on us, whether it is causing our tides or filling the sky at night with luminous beauty. We have imagined the man on the moon, creatures large and small, and even it being made of cheese. The moon is our closest neighbor in space and occupies a place in literature and film, yet we have barely touched the surface after the historic landing of humans in 1969, and I have often wondered what it would take to get us back there.

So when I heard a report on Fox News that the Russians were planning to establish a moon base, my immediate thought was “What about us?” Had we abandoned the idea of ever returning to that celestial wonder, the place where an American flag stands in the stillness of a windless plain?

Vladimir Popovkin, the head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, revealed that he was in joint talks with NASA and the European Space Agency on a joint venture in this process. This would make more sense because NASA has not been able to orchestrate a return to the moon for many reasons, including the obvious financial burdens such a mission would entail. Hopefully, with these agencies working together, something tangible can happen to make this vision a reality.

Of course, President Obama is noted for saying that we should set our sights on Mars. I wrote about this in an article nearly two years ago, and I haven’t heard much about it since. At the time I praised Obama’s vision, but I think reality always rears its ugly head. Mars is a much more difficult mission and will no doubt take a much longer time to accomplish. The moon, on the other hand, can be more easily reached, and I even noted at the time that a base on the moon would make sense as a staging point for these missions to Mars.

Space has an allure for many of us, especially Star Trek and Star Wars fans, but also many others who have have turned their heads to ponder the universe. Whether you have looked at the moon on a sandy beach, from an airplane window, or through a telescope, the fascination is palpable and the yearning for “infinity and beyond” is something more than a cartoon fantasy. If space is indeed the final frontier, then we must find ways to explore it, starting with baby steps that take us to the moon and then one day to planets beyond our solar system.

People living in 1869 had no idea that one hundred years later we would witness a man walking on the moon. In 1969 we could imagine many things after seeing Neil Armstrong take that amazing first step, but we had no idea that the communicators we saw in Captain Kirk’s hand on Star Trek would be in our own hands when we grew up, in the form of cellular phones. Now, if we could just get Scotty to beam us up to avoid that traffic jam, but that’s for another story.

I think it is exciting to imagine what a moon base would be like, and 2020 certainly doesn’t feel that far away. The question is, would this open up an eventual opportunity for civilians to visit the moon? I would like to reserve a room in that first Marriott that goes up near the Sea of Tranquility. Ah, a room with a view!

Until then, “Live long and prosper” one and all!

Photo Credit – NASA

About Victor Lana

Victor Lana has published numerous stories, articles, and poems in literary magazines and online. His books In a Dark Time (1994), A Death in Prague (2002), Move (2003), The Savage Quiet September Sun: A Collection of 9/11 Stories (2005) and Like a Passing Shadow (2009) are available online and as e-books. He has won the National Arts Club Award for Poetry, but has concentrated mostly on fiction and non-fiction prose in recent years. He has worked as faculty advisor to school literary magazines and enjoys the creative process as a writer, editor, and collaborator. He has been with Blogcritics since July 2005, has edited many articles, was co-head sports editor with Charley Doherty, and now is a Culture and Society editor. He views Blogcritics as one of most exciting, fresh, and meaningful opportunities in his writing life.
  • jamminsue

    Thank you, Victor

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Vic –

    There’s been more effort than you think, particularly along the lines of developing the engines we need in order to get to Mars. I don’t have time to post everything, but I kept up with enough news on the subject to know they’re making concrete steps.

    On the prospects of a ‘moon colony’ – that’s a pipe dream, whether by the Russians or by Newt Gingrich who claims we’d have one by the end of his (horrors!) second term. Why? Because a colony on the moon would demand truly long-term residents – much longer than the six months that they spend on the ISS – and they would face the very real problem of living in low gravity. It wouldn’t quite be as bad as on the ISS, but its adverse effects would still be very real – our bodies were designed to live in a gravity field as strong as Earth’s.

    That, and in order to rotate people in and out would be much more expensive than simply shuttling people and supplies back and forth to the ISS. I strongly suspect that a moon colony will remain a practical impossibility until we have a working space elevator which would cut the costs of bringing mass to orbit from Earth’s gravity well by over 90%.

  • http://viclana.blogspot.com/ Victor Lana

    Thanks for this info, Glenn. What I am wondering is when they will be able to develop a gravitational device to just make a ship or a station on the moon equal Earth’s gravity.

    What about that space elevator? How long is that supposed to take to get going?

    Newt’s second term? Seems that is as probable as a moon colony at this point.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    There’s nothing even theoretically possible about any gravitational device, so unless we want to have a rotating wheel like the one in 2001: A Space Odyssey, it ain’t gonna happen for at least another generation. We just recently launched a couple of probes that should be able to detect gravity waves, if such do exist as theorized, but I’d say it’s doubtful that we’d be able to economically use them even if we were able to figure out how to harness them because gravity is really a weak force and it would probably take a great deal of energy to generate enough gravity to make a difference.

    The space elevator, OTOH, is a much more likely bet. If we can figure out how to weave ropes of buckyball material – much lighter and far stronger than steel, yet 100% carbon – then it just becomes a matter of national effort.