In the first edition of this book published in 1999, we outlined the process by which the Moon could be transformed into an inhabited sister planet of the Earth during the twenty-first century (the "Planet Moon Project"). The rationale for our proposal was that the Moon is the logical place for the next stage of human activity in space: it is our closest celestial neighbor and it has an abundance of resources that can be used to support space exploration and development projects. In the eight years since the publication of the first edition, much has happened to bolster our view that Planet Moon will become a reality in the coming decades:
• Valuable experience has been gained with human operations in space, particularly with the International Space Station.
• An increasing number of nations have developed space launch capabilities and have expressed interest in lunar exploration programs, including manned programs.
• By White House directive, the U.S. space effort is now re-aligned to return humans to the Moon by 2020 as the first step towards the exploration of Mars and beyond.
• Commercial enterprises are becoming increasingly involved in the design and operation of space systems, including propulsion systems and habitats.
• Advances in information technology, particularly the Internet, have enabled knowledge to be widely available to people everywhere.
• Robotics technology, which will play an increasingly important role in all phases of human exploration in space, continues to make advances.
• Upcoming unmanned lunar missions by space agencies and commercial enterprises promise to yield increasing knowledge that will prepare the way for the establishment of permanent lunar settlements.
As a result of continuing advances in the space sciences, technologies, and related disciplines, we decided to write this updated edition of The Moon. We reorganized the middle chapters of the book (Chapters 5 through 8) to describe four phases of lunar development from the advent of the initial lunar landers to the realization of a globally-inhabited "Planet Moon''. We also substituted "settlement" for "colonization'' in the title of the book.
We did not attempt to cost the Planet Moon Project because we believe that such an effort would be futile. The concepts and projects presented in these chapters do not have precisely calculable precedents and it is not possible to provide credible estimates of the cost of establishing a new civilization in space. While the investments in the initial phases of exploration and development of the Moon will be high, we strongly believe that the long term benefits, for virtually every aspect of the human condition, will far outweigh the costs.
The polar regions of the Moon will likely play a strategic role in the first phases of lunar exploration and development. The summit of Mons Malapert, according to our calculations, always has the Earth and Shackleton Crater (at the lunar south pole) in view for direct and continuous high-bandwidth communications. Moreover, it may receive sunlight for solar power generation for as much as 90 percent of the lunar year. These favorable characteristics will have to be verified by analysis of imaging data from satellites (such as SMART-1 and the planned Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter), and by lander missions that obtain "ground truth'' information. If our calculations are confirmed, Mons Malapert would offer great advantages for establishing a permanent foothold on the Moon.
In the first edition, our choice for the location of the first permanent lunar base was adjacent to "Newton Crater'' in the south polar region - hence the name, "Newton Base''. However, our determination of the advantages of Mons Malapert led us to select the summit of that mountain as the site of the first base. Perhaps we should have named it "Malapert Base'', but we decided to retain the original name from the first edition. Thus, "Newton Base'' continues to be the designated name for the first base, but its location has been moved, in this second edition, to the summit of Mons Malapert.
In the final chapter we offer a speculative vision of how the industrialized Moon might be used to benefit the people of the Earth and to explore space. Given the rapid pace of knowledge accumulation and technological advancements, the realities of space exploits will undoubtedly be much different than our speculations - but we suggest that our estimates may be too conservative. The advent of television and the development of vaccines for polio, the unleashing the power of the atom, the breaking the sound barrier by a manned aircraft, the launch of the first Earth satellite, the first landing of humans on the Moon, and the advent of the personal computer, lasers, genetic engineering, and the Internet all occurred within the lifetimes of the authors. What advances will occur in the lifetime of the next set of explorers on the space frontier? We anticipate that change will probably occur more rapidly than anyone now expects and that the benefits of that change will be greater than any of us now predict.
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