View of the far side of Luna, a great hole to be explored, and inside the Chinese probe, an experimental biosphere that may lead to a moon base for people– a sustainable closed ecosystem.
Robert McCall was the dean of American space artists and his painting of a proposed moon base (for the 1960s Kubrick film 2001: A Space Odyssey) still haunts my dreams.
It might have come true but for the wasted billions spent on the stupid Democrat (JFK & LBJ) war in Viet Nam. Now with Uncle Barry focused on enlarging the welfare state, it’s unlikely. Unless private companies find a compelling way to make money at it, perhaps through minerals mining.
Fortunately, there’s still time for it to happen, of course, even if it’s long after I’m gone and it turns out to be made-in-China.
Presume this is a railgun or a mass driver for flinging spacecraft into orbit. Bet it would be awfully cold on your bottom sitting on luna’s rock and dust like these folks are doing. They probably live underground to escape Sol’s radiation. Still, it would be fun to go. It is, actually, in the imagination.
The heat shield on Atlantis–the blanket shield not the tiles–seems to have a 4-inch hole in it, but NASA professes not to be worried. First time in a long time they’ve had an all-male crew, but they’ll be coming back with a woman after one of them replaces her on the space station. All this work on the station has an air of anticlimax, since the shuttle will soon retire and the station itself may not last much longer. But these trips aren’t trivial. They will be generally useful for building a base on the moon, which has not much more gravity than low-Earth orbit.
UPDATE Problem or no, they’re going to fix it, anyway.
More good, if a few trifle far-fetched, reasons to return to the moon, by former moon astronaut Buzz Aldrin who recalls looking back from its surface in 1969 to "…the cloudy blue ball that should only be mankind’s starter home." The plan is to put the base at the moon’s south pole, where there is some evidence of water ice and more shelter from the sun, and rotate astronaut teams in and out every six months. Top of the far-fetched list, it seems to me, is beaming solar energy home, but the argument’s at least as interesting as the space elevator. /NASA