Artifacts III: The Rambling

So I just stumbled upon this gem, my impassioned entreaty to the people of earth to literally reach beyond our fragile planet and colonize the lunar surface………in fifty years. HAHAHA, we can’t even agree on lightbulb policy so I’m to the point where I would likely sell my eternal soul to a corporate juggernaut, violating my disbelief in the existence of a soul and my frequent tirades against corporate malfeasance, just to see human beings establish a permanent and growing presence on the moon. But anyway, I spun this out at some point about 6 months ago and planned to mass email it to hundreds of policy makers and industry leaders and civilian advocates, and now, finally, its being published under a title that bespeaks its maudlin tone.

We, the undersigned, in a spirit of unwavering human optimism, aspiration, and, yes, the often vilified, self-interested pursuit of profit and glory, do hereby express our support for and pursuit of nothing less than human colonization of the lunar surface within 50 years. We ask not for unthinking commitment, nor for you, the reader, to consider this letter an entreaty to adopt a limited or predetermined set of policies and programs. Consider this instead an expression of belief, an outline of our expectations for the future of humankind, major implications derivative of those expectations, and why you, the reader and hopefully participant, are essential to this admittedly assumptive yet logically defensible portrait of the shared human future beyond this blue abode.

We ask for your help to realize the colonization of the moon as a base for further exploration and habitation of planetary bodies in our solar system and as a permanent home for a growing number of human beings within 50 years. We are not delusional, we are not oblivious to the immense challenges involved, and we are fully aware that this project finds itself amid a clamoring army of latent and arguably (but only relatively (within a temporal context)) more important matters.

That paragraph is set apart for several reasons.

  1. It demonstrates (we hope) that we are not crazy, that we understand the considerations and difficulties of such a mission, and that we are not disconnected from a practical, day-to-day world. It is also an effort to accommodate the reader visually and cognitively. If we had buried our purpose in one of these other, long-winded sections you would probably lose interest far more rapidly. Please don’t lose interest, we worked SO hard to put this together.
  2. It states explicitly our goal. We believe humans must expand beyond the terrestrial environment in order to remain viable as a species. While many philosophical, religious, scientific, economic, and metaphysical arguments exist for colonizing extraterrestrial territory, the most logical and urgent is purely biological, species-specific determinism. Our pre-programmed self-interest from which arises a group desire to survive and propagate.
  3. It describes an attainable, relevant finish line around which collaborative effort can be more effectively undertaken while ensuring that competitors are likewise working on shared challenges. It forces us to work together. Yes, you may rightly point out that ‘colonization’, ‘further exploration’, ‘permanent home’, and ‘growing population’ are all indefinite qualifiers whose breadth and imprecise meanings blaze a clear trail into controversial territory. Assumptions that the realization of said conditions would initiate lasting debate from the most cloistered of academic circles to the general population would also be correct. However, we do not believe that speculative commentary should affect the principal focus and in fact, a clear description of success should be a central and frequently reaffirmed feature of the project. Reiteration of achievements necessary to declare success would serve to unify and clarify this project for both those involved and the interested public.
  4. It identifies you, the recipient, as an organization, agency, business, or individual that possesses abilities, resources, knowledge, vision, all, or several that are necessary for such an undertaking. If you have received this letter it is an acknowledgement of your relevance and importance to lunar colonization. By its nature, this endeavor will be challenging in every dimension imaginable: politically, economically, emotionally, socially, technologically, psychologically, and any other applicable arenas of human thought and interaction you can think of. The company, government, organization, or individual you are or represent may specialize in public relations, international political theory, biology, orbital mechanics, microgravitional medicine, materials engineering, or history but each and every one of these domains will be involved.

By now you may be wondering what, exactly, we are asking for. We have asked for your help to succeed in the establishment of a permanent and growing human presence on the surface of our moon but heretofore have provided scant details as to what can and must be done to achieve such an aim. There is a constellation (….yes, pun intended) of activities that would provide support but despite the variety of important contributions each will most likely address one of four primary obstacles:

  1. Prohibitive costs associated with exiting Earth’s gravity. Currently, for every kilogram launched into orbit 20k dollars must be spent. This must be remedied. Advances in propulsion technology, chemical propellants, emplaced solutions such as space elevators, and reliance on the development of advanced vehicles are familiar to even those with a passing interest in space. We believe that emphasis has been accorded in an inefficient manner. Imagining potential alternatives or quasi-fantastic technologies to overcome the staggering problem of launch expenses should instead be scrapped for a renewed and structured focus in areas that will directly advance launch related systems. For a broad majority of people space has become blasé, a destination that we will eventually reach and inhabit by virtue of the progressive nature of technological development. Identification of primary barriers to cheap, efficient launching regimes needs to be undertaken. We offer 2 examples:

–          The development, production, and marketing of gaming technologies tailored specifically for space resource development projects as related to construction of a permanent human settlement on the lunar surface.

Flight simulators, MMO’s, SIM variants, and even action driven FPS games that take as their environments and objectives ones derived from current space programs could provide valuable data in addition to an expanding base of skilled and interested people. Critics may argue that this proves the unnecessary nature of crewed space exploration, that robots or simulations are a safer, cost-effective means of studying what lies beyond our atmosphere. These objections are typically far more concerned with cost than safety. To these critics we say: that proof works both ways. As robotics and intelligent computer/mechanical systems continue to advance why not allow machines to teach students, babysit, enforce the law, or for that matter govern our activities? To discount the importance of crewed exploration and colonization is to essentially discount the relevance of our existence itself. Additionally, the creation of saleable technologies offers a source of revenue to help offset the costs of research and development while educating potential travelers about the risks and rewards of space exploration.

  1. Overcoming public disenchantment with space as a frontier and as a potential realm of habitation. Following the successful moon landing by Apollo 11federal interest quickly waned and the public immediately followed suit. A serious public complain should be mounted to help rebuild and sustain a public, both in the US and across the world, that is interested and invested in space as a living destination and as a source of economic and scientific activity. Documentary films, high profile airings of spectacular space history moments, educational systems, legislative attitudes, government initiatives, private sector support, and many more are absolutely required to make this a reality. People must first rediscover space as an exciting possibility and then they must believe that human beings can and should be living beyond this planet. Without broad support by the public any efforts are likely to go nowhere.
  2. Creating and sustaining the international political will necessary until success of mission.
  3. Articulating and implementing a plan to monetize a lunar colony. To succeed, there must be a viable economic incentive for colonization. Whether tourism, mining, property development, land grants, cash rewards, the possibility of enrichment or personal advancement needs to exist and be viable for people to consider relocating to the moon. It will

It has become taboo to affirmatively imagine living beyond the earth. This, however, is not due to lack of technological ability or of resources: it is due solely to political and social considerations which have subordinated and indeed discredited the possibility of colonizing our solar system. That broadly shared perception overshadows any attempts to either argue, plan, or actively pursue such goals and preordains these efforts to failure. If our discourse can be changed.

You, the recipient, can ignore everything we’ve said so far if you so choose; however, if you do opt for that route, we ask that you at least consider how you might be able to contribute. What we are really asking for, at its most fundamental, reduced level, is for a discussion. An open discussion that does not rest or revert to foregone conclusions that this is impossible, but one that starts, from its very beginning, with the notion that this is possible and indeed necessary for the conintued survival of the species. You have access to tremendous resources, powerful technologies, and some of the brightest minds on the planet. How do we make a human presence in space a profitable or enticing reality? How can we solve the launch cost barrier? What obstacles are there to increased international participation and can they be circumvented or removed?

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