Dance on the Moon in 2027
By Rayni Joan
By the year 2027, less than a split second away in geologic time,
Moon-dancing may take on a literal meaning for regular folks.
Twenty-four hours before a beautiful Full Moon shone down on Earth, NASA
held a news conference to announce that we humans would be going for a
permanent base on the Moon! According to Shana Dale, deputy
administrator of NASA, plans are underway to work with more than a dozen
nations and a number of commercial enterprises to develop scientific and
"other interests" on the Moon.
Since the lunar poles have near-constant sunlight, allowing for easy
solar power generation, chances are one or the other pole will be the
site for the permanent lunar base.
How will the lunar base be financed? NASA's current annual budget of $17
billion is not expected to grow because of the Moon Base. Instead, funds
now allocated to the space shuttle and International Space Station will
shift to the lunar base program. The United States has earmarked the
space shuttle fleet for retirement by 2010, which will necessarily go
along with less activity around the International Space Station. As of
early December 2006, however, when the public announcement of a
permanent lunar base was first made, the space station was still
actively under construction with shuttle launches in the works.
An international conference, to be held in 2007, will address permanent
lunar base planning, including solar power generation, staff and visitor
living quarters, laboratories, observatories, and possible commercial
development. Preliminary plans call for crews of four astronauts to
begin making week-long lunar missions, followed by longer stays at the
moon base, and eventually, roving expeditions to travel around and
explore the Moon while staying for extended periods without returning to
How long will it be before super-rich tourists will book stays at the
Lunar Hilton or the Moon Riviera? Let's hope the "other interests" these
planners are talking about will be peaceful in nature.