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Category Archives: Moon Colonization

Adrin Villar Rojas Excavates Greece’s National Identity – Hyperallergic

Posted: July 28, 2017 at 6:48 pm

Installation view of Adrin Villar Rojas, The Theater of Disappearance (all images Panos Kokkinias, Courtesy NEON unless otherwise indicated)

ATHENS How do you define your national identity? Adrin Villar Rojass new installation/intervention, The Theater of Disappearance (2017) at the National Observatory of Athensseems to ask just that, prompting thoughts about what the soil beneath our feet contains and represents, and how far we should dive into the depths of our own past.

The Greeks have a very deep past to dive into, of course. To stand on this land is to stand within the cradle of Western civilization. History lives here in plain sight.The National Observatory is no exception; situated on the Hill of the Nymphs, it has an unrivaled view of the Acropolis. I am informed that it is difficult to build on or excavate this land, in case anything precious in the soil is disturbed. As the installations commissioner, NEON director Elina Kountouri, states in the exhibition catalogue, establishing the observatory in 1842 was fiercely opposed. It was argued that any digging would disrupt the tranquility and the architectural purity of the hill. Thus, Greek people lay their identity in earth that remains loaded with the debris of past events. Who should have authority to excavate it, I wonder: any of the archaeologists, politicians, or astronomers who have previously made their mark here, or an artist like the Argentinian-born Villar Rojas?

An additional subtext to The Theater of Disappearance is Greeces current national debt. Athens is a city that reveres its past, yet fears for its future. Meanwhile the other, concurrent large-scale art exhibition set in Athens, documenta 14, has been heavily criticized. Complaints leveled against Crapumenta include calling out the insensitivity of hosting an expensive festival in a place where residents are suffering financially, plus their initial underrepresentation of Greek artists. Villar Rojas is brave for questioning the foundations of national identity in the midst of this crisis.

Essentially, Villar Rojass Theater manifests itself in three ways: a large-scale landscaping of the observatory gardens, a complete re-staging of the observatorys interior, which is now a museum, and a transformation of wasteland at the back of the building into what can only be described as a dystopian, outdoor museum. Villar Rojas developed it over a four-month period, with the assistance of a large crew sourced locally and from his studio in Argentina.

Upon entry, I was surprised to encounter a lush vegetable garden. Athens is arid at this time of year; yet, plump, fleshy stalks of corn tower over beds of artichokes, pumpkins, and asparagus. The original gardens have disappeared, replaced by 46,000 edible plants. Yet he hasnt dug directly into the earth. Instead, a meticulously planned second level of soil sits on raised, irrigated beds. He spent at least two months clearing out dead trunks and leaves in preparation. Would the importance of this process of transforming a fiercely protected heritage site into a theater of food production be understood as acutely in any other city?

On the very top of the hill, the observatorys dome gleams in the sunlight. Inside, it is church-like: cool, very dark, and soundproofed by heavy grey curtains covering every wall and window. Again, some of the original archive has disappeared, edited down to a spare selection of objects placed carefully in each room one large telescope, a case of books, a clock. By peeping through a slim gap in the drapes, you can see the nearby Pantheon a Greek emblem and a grand backdrop that clearly indicates the locale. Villar Rojas is stage dressing. In the foyer, a plaster white, 3D-printed model of the observatory as it was in 1842 reminds visitors of the rocky hill it used to sit on before any landscaping an origin story, if you will. Villar Rojas is directing our attention to what he wants us to see, albeit things from the past that were already there, but now beheld in sharper focus.

Onwards, and Im instructed by an assistant to follow a winding path around the back of the building. The terrain suddenly becomes sandier and more precarious where am I heading? I start to see glass vitrines, embedded at impossible angles on a steep outcrop. Various objects are preserved behind the glass: the Curiosity Mars Rover, guns from the Falkland Islands war, medals from the Ottoman Turkish Empire, iPod wires, charred bones, tattered flags, a graffitied statue of what looks like the goddess Nike. The relics are placed on top of and within layers of pink and terracotta archaeological stratification, as if just unearthed. The work manages to be culturally sensitive and incendiary at the same time, bringing together familiar echoes from the past like mythology and rather more grubby ones that wed rather forget the Falklands, for example, which saw 649 Argentinian soldiers and 255 British soldiers die over just 74 days in the early 1980s.

The overall effect of The Theater of Disappearance the changed gardens, bare museum and somber vitrines is initially bewildering. Yet the longer you spend on this hill, the more that Villar Rojass piece prompts you to consider history, autonomy, and identity. Yes, this is already a site of historical importance, but the artist has directed our focus to questions about what is chosen to be preserved, and why the references made to the Space Race, recent armed conflict, defunct technology, and dead soldiers imply mans aggression, and how selective we can be in deciding which histories to cherish.

For example, one vitrine contains a deflated replica of Neil Armstrongs space suit, Ottoman military emblems, and a layer of moon dust: theres a footprint in the dust, and one plastic bag of seeds signifying mans colonization of the moon. Colonization is embedded in the Greeks development they founded outposts from Italy to North Africa, and were themselves under Turkish rule for 400 years. Theirs is a saga of magnificent achievement, and also of failure and death. The Greeks, says Villar Rojas in a public talk later that evening, have a dual history of being colonists and refugees. He paraphrases an anthropologist: When we dig, we find the enemy. When we dig, we also decide what ancestral experiences are significant to our personal and national identity important enough to conserve. My impression of Greeces history, from this exhibition, is one that is as complicated and contentious as my own British one. There are things that lie within my countrys soil cultural artifacts, gold, bones, blood that symbolize both pride and shame. I can relate.

I also get the impression that The Theater of Disappearance is unresolved. It is one of four exhibitions sharing the same title, showing at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (April 14October 29), Kunsthaus Bregenz, Vorarlberg, Austria (May 6August 27), and the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, Los Angeles (October 22February 26, 2018). Seen together, these theaters might give more insight into Villar Rojass views on history, autonomy, and identity. In short, this artist hasnt finished digging yet.

Adrin Villar Rojas, The Theater of Disappearance continuesat the National Observatory of Athens, (Lofos Nymphon, Thissio, Athens) Greece until September 24.

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New research suggests the interior of the Moon may contain an abundance of water – TechSpot

Posted: July 25, 2017 at 11:48 am

The interior of the Moon may be hiding a surprising secret, new research suggests (sorry, conspiracy theorists its not an underground lunar base).

Scientists for years thought our nearby satellite was a dry and barren place. Opinions changed in the 1960s although it wasnt until 2008 that scientists confirmed their newfound suspicion with the discovery of small amounts of water trapped within beads of glass found in lunar samples collected during the Apollo 15 and Apollo 17 missions in the early 70s.

Researchers at Brown University recently analyzed satellite data from the Moon Mineralogy Mapper instrument aboard India's Chandrayaan-1 probe. As highlights, the instrument measures reflected sunlight at visible and near-infrared wavelengths.

Geologist Ralph Milliken, lead author of the new study, notes that different minerals and compounds absorb and reflect light in different ways. By isolating the reflected sunlight from the thermal energy emitted by the Moons surface, they were able to spot regions where H2O and OH absorb light.

The water they observed was in pyroclastic deposits on the surface of the Moon. Since these types of deposits are the result of volcanic eruptions, it means they likely originated deep within the interior of the Moon. Milliken notes that their findings suggest most of the mantle of the Moon may be wet.

How the water got there to begin with, however, remains a mystery. Earlier theories suggested most of the water on the Moon came from asteroids and comets carrying liquid.

If accurate, the findings could bode well for future colonization efforts as bringing water from Earth would be both heavy and expensive.

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SpaceX’s Mars Plans Hit a Pothole. Up Next: the Moon? – WIRED

Posted: July 22, 2017 at 7:49 am

Elon Musk speaks at the International Space Station Research and Development Conference in Washington, D.C. on July 19, 2017.

Aaron Bernstein/Reuters

Its been less than a year since Elon Musk announced his plans to settle humans on Mars during a talk in Guadalajara, Mexico. On stage at the International Astronautical Congress, the billionaire invoked the lore of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and Battlestar Galactica while describing a massive passenger ship loaded with the essentialsyou know, like a movie theater and a restaurant. SpaceX hoped to launch these breezy cruises to the red planet in the early 2030s.

Plot twist: Musk's original vision is no longer canon in his universe. On Wednesday, Musk took questions during a keynote discussion at the International Space Station R&D conference in Washington, DC. In between dad jokes about tunnel digging , a staple artificial intelligence threat assessment , and a spirited attempt to unpack the potential for interplanetary war, he candidly revealed a series of obstacles for SpaceX and its plan to build a city on Mars. SpaceX is rebooting its colonization plan, and may pivot to focus on a moon base that would aid that effort.

The Hawthorne, California-based spaceflight company has spent years touting propulsive landing technology for the next version of its Dragon spacecraft. SpaceX expected to equip the Dragon V2, rated for crew and cargo, with four small SuperDraco engines and deployable landing legs to allow for a guided surface touchdownfirst on the Earths surface, and then, maybe, on Mars. SpaceX was confident enough in the design to propose a variant of the vehicle Musk claimed would be able to land anywhere in the solar system.

The pitch for those uncrewed Red Dragon missions to Mars included a collaboration with NASA to gather landing data, test communications, and plan for potential contamination from Earth-based microbes. The space agency, of course, has its own boots-on-Mars ambitions, and hopes to send astronauts to the red planet aboard the Orion spacecraft by 2040. Musk would later compare Red Dragon launches to a train leaving the station, delivering cargo and science to Mars in preparation for a human mission.

But now, SpaceX has pulled the plug on its prologue to an interplanetary future.

Musk explained that Red Dragon was no longer in line with the evolving vision SpaceX has for getting to Marsspecifically, the part where you have to land on Mars . The company is hitting pause on the development of its propulsive landing technology on the Dragon V2 spacecraft. Musk argued that while the technology works, SpaceX would be put through the wringer trying to meet NASAs safety standards for landing a human crew on the ground. It doesnt seem like the right way to apply resources right now, Musk said. Im pretty confident that is not the right way, and that theres a far better approach. He later tweeted that SpaceX would still land with propulsive thrusters on Mars, but with a larger spacecraft.

SpaceX has had a busy year adding to its growing arsenal of recovered rockets while launching more times than any other year since its founding. The company also managed to re-fly both its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon cargo capsule . In the flurry of praise surrounding rocket landings and Mars concepts, the fact that SpaceX has yet to attempt or complete a deep space mission of any kind still weighs on the companys future. Red Dragon would have been SpaceXs first toe into the deep end of the pool.

Its journey would have begun atop the triple-booster Falcon Heavy rocket, the famously-delayed launch vehicle that Musk claims has over twice the payload capability of a single Falcon 9 rocket, able to easily deliver 100,000 pounds to low-Earth orbit. At the ISS R&D conference, Musk invited the audience and those watching the livestream to witness the launch of the vehiclecurrently projected for this fallfrom Kennedy Space Center. But he followed with an uneasy disclaimer: Real good chance that vehicle doesnt make it to orbit.

That uncertainty doesnt bode well for Musks original Mars ambitions. Musk argued that the Falcon Heavy was impossible to test on the ground due to the machines complexity. And he said that development was far more difficult than SpaceX expected, admitting that the company was naive in its original projections. The simultaneous firing 27 orbital engines notwithstanding, launching a Falcon Heavy includes changing aerodynamics, heightened vibration, and an enormous thrust that pushes qualification levels of the flight hardware to the limit. Musk admitted on Wednesday that limited damage to former Apollo 11 Pad 39A would be a win in the aftermath of the Falcon Heavy test flight. Along with Musk, the audience laughed nervously.

According to Musks keynote this week, SpaceX is planning to scale down its Mars-bound spacecraft to a size suitable for a wider range of missionsmissions that would help pay for its development costs. A size reduction would certainly have a large economic impact on manufacturing, but savings could be augmented by focusing all efforts on a single reusable vehicle that could serve both low-Earth orbit and deep space. And Musk also offered that building a base on the moon is essential to getting the public excited about space again and would be an excellent stepping stone toward Mars.

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But is that a suggestion to another company? To NASA? Or is SpaceX going to unveil plans for a moon base as part of their updated Mars architecture?

Elon Musk has said that he would offer priority seating to NASA for missions to lunar orbit. SpaceX was the first private company to dock with the space station and the success between the federal space agency and the spaceflight company could point to a continuing partnership that expands beyond low Earth orbit. The ISS wont be around forever, and with NASA shifting toward deep space exploration, the opportunity to give the agency a lift is there. Especially if NASA wants to return to the moon.

But that doesnt mean SpaceX is abandoning its Mars ambitions; far from it. SpaceX owes much of its financial and development success to its partnership with NASA, and theres no doubt Musk will pursue that partnership beyond low-Earth orbit. That means that NASA astronauts could one day be flying on these deep space missions under lucrative taxpayer-funded contracts. Before then, SpaceX will have to fully prove its technology, along with life support systems and radiation protection for crewed missions.

Just a week ago, Musk dispatched SpaceX VP Tim Hughes to make the case for deep space in front of the Senate Subcommittee on Space, Science & Technology. Hughes used the success of SpaceX and NASAs commercial resupply missions and the governing Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program to make a case for partnership in deep space exploration. "To this day, Americas achievement of landing men on the moon and returning them safely to Earth likely represents humankinds greatest and most inspirational technological achievement, he said. Now, other nations like China seek to replicate an achievement America first accomplished 48 years ago. Maybe SpaceX can add private companies to the roster.

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In a Cruel Summer for the GOP, ‘Things Are Starting to Feel Incoherent’ – New York Times

Posted: July 21, 2017 at 11:49 am

Some Republican senators, like Dean Heller of Nevada, should be gearing up for fights with Democratic challengers next year, but instead are trying to duck primary threats inspired at least in part by a president of their own party.

The professional deficits have been topped with dejecting personal tragedies. Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican who has spent the better part of the last six months racing around the world defending a generation of American international positions, announced Wednesday night that he had brain cancer. The third-most-powerful House Republican, Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, lingers in a hospital bed, recovering from gunshot wounds sustained during a mass assassination attempt this summer.

Instead of preparing for a month at home of crowing about the accomplishments of a unified government, Republicans have been diminished to trying to confirm relatively minor nominees Democrats are stalling them and getting a spending bill or two passed. They have been forced to cut their August recess short, all because they have nothing particularly positive to celebrate.

Even former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who was seen gliding through the Capitol on Thursday, normally loquacious on all matters of party strategy, politics and the possibilities of moon colonization, had nothing to say. He stared straight ahead when asked about Republican woes.

Things are starting to feel incoherent, said Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee, reflecting on the health care efforts, which have turned many Republican senators against one another as efforts to negotiate the future of the Medicaid program have caused large rifts.

With no small measure of understatement, Mr. Corker conceded, Theres just not a lot of progress happening.

While congressional Republicans problems stem largely from the chaos at the White House, many reflect fissures within their party over government spending, social issues, immigration and the role of America in the broader international order.

And once again, rather than trying to forge bipartisan alliances with moderate Democrats, Republican leaders appear determined to go it alone with one-party bills that must unite the hard right with the center right.

For example, a spending bill passed by House appropriators that would provide millions of dollars for Mr. Trumps proposed wall on the Mexican border sets up a potential fight on the floor with Republicans in the Senate, who earlier this year rejected a similar effort.

A nearly $700 billion appropriations bill that would fund the Pentagon faces an impending battle over an amendment, championed by Representative Vicky Hartzler, Republican of Missouri, that would end the Obama-era practice of requiring the Pentagon to pay for medical treatment related to gender transition. (Transgender service members have been permitted to serve openly in the military since last year.)

The same measure narrowly failed on a broader defense policy bill passed recently by the House, as some Republicans joined Democrats to reject it.

Some members of the House Freedom Caucus, many of whom were originally elected on a platform of reined-in federal spending, have said they will not vote for a bill that does not include substantial wall funding, as well as the transgender amendment, drawing fault lines around Mr. Trump within the party.

What we havent been able to figure out is how to meld people with such different policy positions together to get the consensus, the majority it takes to pass bills, Representative Bradley Byrne, Republican of Alabama, said.

Republicans blame Democrats for many of their woes: for slowing down nominations with procedural tricks because of their ire over health care, for not helping them to repeal the Affordable Care Act and for passing it in the first place. But increasingly, Republican senators are suggesting it would be better to work with the minority party to fix the laws flaws.

Even in the House, Republicans and Democrats joined, at least momentarily, over the issue of congressional approval for authorizing war. The effort was led by Representative Scott Taylor, Republican of Virginia and a former Navy SEAL, who joined forces with Representative Barbara Lee, Democrat of California, demonstrating that foreign policy in the Trump era has provoked even more desire for a legislative role.

I feel very strongly that Congress is handing over its war making authority to the executive branch, said Representative Tom Cole, Republican of Oklahoma. It did so under Obama, and it is doing so under Trump. In their desire to spare their members from tough votes, the leadership of both parties have weakened the power of Congress. This belief is widely shared by the rank and file in both parties.

Appropriators in the Senate are also working in a friendly and bipartisan manner on bills, but it remains to be seen how the process will play out on legislation that will require 60 votes to pass. Still, some Republicans are using optimism as oxygen as they head home after yet another week of chaos and disappointment.

We will continue to focus on the priorities that restore hope and create opportunities for the economically vulnerable, Senator Tim Scott, the ever-buoyant Republican from South Carolina, said. Our focus, not as Republicans or Democrats but as Americans, is our future.

Emmarie Huetteman contributed reporting.

Get politics and Washington news updates via Facebook, Twitter and in the Morning Briefing newsletter.

A version of this article appears in print on July 21, 2017, on Page A14 of the New York edition with the headline: Ambitious Agenda Stalls in Cruel Summer for Republicans.

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Moon Colony? Elon Musk Now Wants Lunar Colonization Before Mars – International Business Times

Posted: at 11:49 am

Elon Musk's name is associated with Tesla, SpaceX and of course Mars colonies, but what about other planets andobjects in space? At a talk at the International Space Station Research and Development conference in Washington D.C., Musk said he believes having some sort of moon base would help further his mission to the Red Planet.

On stage Wednesday he told Kirk Shireman, ISS program manager, that getting a base on the moon would help get people fired up about space. If we wanna get the public real fired up, weve got to have a base on the moon, after pausing for some applause from the crowd he said, That would be pretty cool, and then going beyond that getting people to Mars.

Read: 8 Photos That Show What SpaceX And Elon Musk Think Traveling To Mars Will Look Like

In the detailed plans to visit Mars that Musk has revealed in the past at conferences and in writing, the moon was never really mentioned. The moonalso played no part in a video of the SpaceX Interplanetary Transport System that Muskrevealed at the International Astronautical Congress last year.

But on Wednesday when Shireman asked Muskwhat he believes the future of commercializedspace travel will look like he brought up the moon. Having some permanent presence on another heavenly body, which would the kind of moon base and then getting people to Mars and beyond. And you know thats the continuance of the dream of Apollo that people are really looking for, he said on stage.

Musk also said that he is hoping to discuss how his plans to reach Mars have changed since his presentation last year at the upcoming International Astronautical Congress. So its possible that some sort of plans for a moon colony or base could be included in those new Mars plans.

Read: Mission To Mars: Will NASA Or SpaceX And Elon Musk Get There First?

During the ISS R&D conference Wednesday he only mentioned that the plans had evolved quite a bit and that the key thing SpaceX had figured out was how to pay to go to Mars. Plans to downsize the Mars vehicle and make it capable of doingEarth-orbit activity as well as Mars activity would hopefully help with the sky-high travel costs. Musk also said that the revised plans are a little more realistic, I think this ones got a shot at being real on the economic front, he said with a slight laugh to sum up.

While fielding questions from the crowd Musk said he saw a way for his Boring Company to overlap with colonization plans. Its unclear whether this will also be involved in the updated plans he hopes to present at the next IAC.

You can watch his talk with ISS Program Director Kirk Shireman below:

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Jeff Bezos’ Vision: ‘A Trillion Humans in the Solar System’ –

Posted: at 11:49 am

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. It is now 48 years since Apollo 11's moon landing on July 20, 1969. That history-making first human touchdown on the lunar landscape was celebrated here last Saturday during an evening gala held near a massive Apollo Saturn V booster.

While primarily a reflection on decades past, the event also proved to be a look into the future, courtesy of remarks by Jeff Bezos, the retail mogul of fame and fortune and the head of Blue Origin, a company with big plans to pioneer the space frontier. [Photos: Glimpses of Secretive Blue Origin's Private Spaceships]

Jeff Bezos receives the first annual Buzz Aldrin Space Innovation Award from Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin at an Apollo 11 anniversary gala on July 15, 2017.

The gala was hosted by Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin. He was joined by Apollo veterans Michael Collins, the Apollo 11 command module pilot; Walt Cunningham of 1968's Apollo 7 mission; and Harrison "Jack" Schmitt from Apollo 17, the last expedition to the moon, in December 1972.

The Apollo 11 gala event was the first part of a three-year fundraising campaign devised by the ShareSpace Foundation, which will culminate in the summer of 2019 with global activities coinciding with the 50th Anniversary of the first moon landing.

Bezos was on hand to accept the first annual Buzz Aldrin Space Innovation Award. The unique glass award was produced by the Soneva Resorts' Glass Art Studio in the Maldives.

Taking part in the July 15, 2017, gala at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, left to right: Apollo 7's Walt Cunningham; Michael Collins of Apollo 11; Buzz Aldrin; and Harrison Schmitt of Apollo 17.

"I pride myself on thinking out of the box of being innovative," Aldrin said, saluting those same characteristics in Bezos.

"Jeff Bezos told me on a recent visit to Blue Origin that he's been dreaming of space since the age of 5 years old. He watched Neil [Armstrong], Mike and me journey to the moon during Apollo 11 in 1969. Since then, he has charted his course through innovation, and he's been quietly breaking barriers with Blue Origin," Aldrin said.

Aldrin highlighted Blue Origin's New Shepard, a fully reusable, vertical-takeoff/vertical-landing system that will fly suborbital space tourism and research missions. He also detailed the company's reusable New Glenn orbital rocket, which is under development, as well as Blue Origin's powerful BE-3 and BE-4 engines.

"I don't think there's been anything quiet about rockets in the first place," Aldrin said, "but Blue Origin is primed to make the loudest noise yet." [Blue Origin's Giant New Glenn Rocket in Pictures]

Evening festivities at the Kennedy Space Center brought together astronauts and space industry pioneers, who were there to stress the need for education and inspiration for space exploration.

Bezos said the Apollo program was inspirational, helping to fuel his desire and passion to make a difference in space exploration.

"I have won this lottery," Bezos said. "It's a gigantic lottery, and it's called And I'm using my lottery winnings to push us a little further into space."

Bezos said he is not in the camp of the "Plan B argument" for the colonization of space that one day Earth is going to be destroyed or uninhabitable, so we better have another place to live.

"I hate that idea I find it very unmotivating," Bezos said. "We have sent robotic probes now to every planet in this solar system, and believe me, this [Earth] is the best one."

Apollo 11's Buzz Aldrin reflects on the first human landing on the moon, which occurred on July 20, 1969.

While we should and will colonize space (via the harnessing of solar energy and asteroid resources), Bezos said, there's also a need to avoid stagnation here on Earth by putting controls on population or energy usage per capita. That's sure to be a boring world, he said, and not compatible with freedom or liberty.

Bezos' visionary scenario is being held back by a central issue, he said.

"Space travel is just too darn expensive. And we know why it's too expensive. It's because we throw the rockets away," Bezos explained. "We're never going on to do these grand things and to expand into the solar system as long as we throw this hardware away. We need to build reusable rockets, and that is what Blue Origin is dedicated to taking my Amazon lottery winnings and dedicating to it's a passion, but it's also important."

Space pioneers reflect on the past and the future at the Kennedy Space Center gala, left to right: Buzz Aldrin, Jeff Bezos, Jack Schmitt, Michael Collins and Walt Cunningham.

Bezos also said at the gala that "it's time for America to go back to the moon, this time to stay."

"We should build a permanent settlement on one of the poles of the moon," he said. In that lunar locale, water in permanently shadowed regions, such as the bottoms of craters, can be accessed. And "peaks of eternal light" in polar regions mountaintops or crater rims that are always bathed in sunlight can provide solar power.

"We didn't know back in the '60s and '70s, but we know now, that the poles of the moon are extremely interesting places, and we should go back, and we should stay," Bezos said. "If we have reusable rockets, we can do it so much more affordably than we have ever done it before. We have the tools. We have the young people with a passion to do it. We can get that done today."

Leonard David is author of "Mars: Our Future on the Red Planet," published by National Geographic. The book is a companion to the National Geographic Channel series "Mars." A longtime writer for, David has been reporting on the space industry for more than five decades. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook or Google+. This version of this story was posted on

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How Moon Bases and Lunar Colonies Work (Infographic)

Posted: July 20, 2017 at 2:47 am

Humans could set up robot-constructed mining outposts at the moon's poles.

An outpost on the Earths moon has been a staple of science fiction since the 20th century. One of the earliest practical proposals was the U.S. Armys 1959 design for a nuclear powered fortress, built to establish a military presence on the moon before the Soviet Union could do the same.

A 1961 U.S. Air Force plan called for a 21-man underground lunar base, to be built by 1968.

Current arguments for establishing a lunar colony include these potential uses:

Resource mining (oxygen, rocket fuel, construction materials) Energy (solar power, helium 3 mining for nuclear fusion) Astronomical observations from the moon's far side Tourism

Sophisticated robots could prepare the landing site prior to the arrival of astronauts. 3D-printed structures could be formed from the lunar soil itself. [How to Build a Lunar Colony (Photos)]

A moon base must support its crew, either with supplies launched from Earth or by mining the resources ofthe moon itself.

On Earth, the daily life-support requirements for one person are:

Oxygen: 1.85 lbs (0.84 kg) Drinking water: 2.64 gallons (10 liters) Dried food: 3.9 lbs (1.77 kg) Water for food: 1.06 gallons (4 liters)

In space however, the water requirements are lower:

Oxygen: 1.85 lbs (0.84 kg) Drinking water: 0.43 gallons (1.6 liters) Dried food: 3.9 lbs (1.77 kg) Water for food: 0.21 gallons (0.8 liters)

The basic necessities for human life air and water could be derived from the lunar soil. Building materials, rocket fuel and other necessities could also be manufactured. These materials could be used by the astronauts on the moon or shot into space electromagnetically by a "mass driver."

Poll: Where Should Humans Build the 1st Space Colony?

A lunar mass driver is a miles-long electromagnetic rail gun. Packets would be accelerated to lunar escape velocity and catapulted to space colonies for capture and utilization.

One prime location for a moon base would be in the permanently shadowed deep craters near the moon's poles. These very cold locations harbor vast quantities of water ice, which could be harvested relatively easily.

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Elon Musk Calls for Moon Base –

Posted: at 2:47 am

Elon Musk (left) talks to NASA International Space Station (ISS) program manager Kirk Shireman on July 19, 2017, at the ISS Research and Development conference in Washington, D.C.

Elon Musk may be focused primarily on Mars, but he'd also like to see a human outpost on a world much closer to home.

"To really get the public real fired up, I think we've got to have a base on the moon," the billionaire founder and CEO of SpaceX said today (July 19) at the 2017 International Space Station Research and Development (ISSR&D) conference in Washington, D.C.

"Having some permanent presence on another heavenly body, which would be the kind of moon base, and then getting people to Mars and beyond that's the continuance of the dream of Apollo that I think people are really looking for," Musk told NASA ISS program manager Kirk Shireman, who interviewed him onstage at the conference. [Moon Base Visions: How to Build a Lunar Colony (Photos)]

Musk and SpaceX are working to make the latter part of that vision a reality within the next 50 years or so. Last September, at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) meeting in Mexico, the entrepreneur unveiled plans for a reusable rocket-spaceship combo called the Interplanetary Transport System. The ITS would help colonize Mars and, potentially, allow humanity to explore more distant worlds, such as the Jupiter moon Europa and the Saturn satellite Enceladus.

Musk has been relatively quiet about the ITS since then, but he said he plans to give an update about the architecture at the next IAC conference, which will be held this September in Adelaide, Australia. And he teased an ITS tweak that SpaceX has been working on.

Downsizing the ITS spaceship a bit the originally unveiled version would carry at least 100 people and using it for some profit-generating "Earth-orbit activity" could help make Mars colonization economically feasible, Musk said at the ISSR&D conference today.

"That's one of the key elements in the new architecture," Musk said. "It's similar to what was [unveiled] at IAC, but it's a little bit smaller still big. I think this one's got a shot at being real on the economic front. You know, that's the trick."

Musk also said today that another one of his ventures, The Boring Company, could aid in Mars colonization as well. The Boring Company's main goal is to construct tunnel networks beneath (and, eventually, between) traffic-choked cities such as Los Angeles, enabling speedier travel.

But advanced tunneling technology will also be in high demand on Mars, Musk said, citing the likely need to mine large amounts of ice and other natural resources. And Red Planet colonists may want to live underground, at least part of the time, to shield themselves from the relatively high radiation fluxes encountered on the Martian surface, he added.

"You can build a tremendous amount underground with the right boring technology on Mars, so I do think there's some overlap in that technology-development arena," Musk said.

But Earth-optimized tunneling machines won't do the job on Mars, he stressed.

"The Earth ones are really heavy. Like, really heavy," Musk said. "You're not worried about weight for an Earth tunneling machine; actually, you want one that's nice and heavy. But a Mars one,you'd have to redesign it to be superlight that's a tricky one and then just take into account the different conditions on Mars and everything else."

Follow Mike Wall on Twitter@michaeldwallandGoogle+.Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebookor Google+. Originally published

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Jeff Bezos outlines vision of colonizing the solar system – The Space Reporter

Posted: July 19, 2017 at 3:48 am

At a celebration commemorating the 48th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, Blue Origin CEO Jeff Bezos argued for permanent settlements on the Moon and advocated colonization of the solar system as a means of making room for up to one trillion people.

Unlike other advocates for colonizing solar system worlds, Bezos does not base his position on the notion that humans need a new planet because Earth will someday be destroyed.

Instead, he sees it as a next step important to life on Earth.

We can harvest resources from asteroids, from Near-Earth Objects, and harvest solar energy from a much broader surface areaand continue to do amazing things. I want my grandchildrens grandchildren to be in a world of pioneering, exploration, and expansion throughout the solar system, he said.

Colonizing the solar system will free humanity from population concerns and open up resources capable of meeting up to one trillion peoples needs, Bezos emphasized.

Reusable rockets are the key to bringing down the expense of space travel and are a goal toward which Blue Origin is working, he noted.

An important step toward the larger goal of solar system colonization is returning to the Moon and establishing settlements on its poles to obtain water and gain access to solar power.

Its time for America to go back to the Moon, this time to stay. We know things about the Moon we didnt know back in the 1960s and 1970s, and with reusable rockets, we can do it affordably. We can get that done today, Bezos stated.

He also said he wants Blue Origin to operate a cargo service named Blue Moon, which would transport the supplies necessary for robots to build a human habitat on the Moon.

Blue Origin plans to take tourists to suborbital space with its New Shepard rocket but is also developing rockets capable of reaching orbit.

Bezos, who spoke on a stage at Cape Canaveral in front of the huge Saturn V rocket that launched the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon, was awarded the first annual Buzz Aldrin Innovation Award by Aldrins ShareSpace Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to inspiring and educating people about science, technology, engineering, arts, and math.

Laurel Kornfeld is a freelance writer and amateur astronomer from Highland Park, NJ, who enjoys writing about astronomy and planetary science. She studied journalism at Douglass College, Rutgers University, and earned a Graduate Certificate of Science in astronomy from Swinburne Universitys Astronomy Online program.

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Jeff Bezos outlines vision of colonizing the solar system - The Space Reporter

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Starship Congress presentations make the case for permanent moon colonization – Next Big Future

Posted: at 3:48 am

1. Damien Turchi is a graduate of Drexel University in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, founder and former president of the Icarus Interstellar Drexel University Student Chapter and lead coordinator of the first Interstellar Hackathon at Starship Congress 2015 at Drexel University, PA. He is currently a director of Icarus Interstellar.

On the Development of a Permanent Lunar Settlement: A Micro-Literature Review and Suggested Action

Since the 1960s, humanity seriously discusses the idea of a permanent lunar settlement. In both academic and professional literature, many designs for an initial settlement are proposed to varying fidelity. NASA published a comprehensive review of the most promising designs in the 1990s. Recent literature is not as detailed in its scope.

This study analyzes the designs NASA considered to be of significance in the 90s and discusses the benefits and cons of each. In addition, several recent works are assessed. From this review, the author concludes that an initial lunar settlement is possible through further development of existing design work, but that a superior option is neither immediate nor obvious.

Selecting a single framework (or a specific hybrid of several) is critical to best funnel capital into the most promising technologies. An action path is proposed that leverages consideration of permanence and significance as feedback to clearly characterize the best design choice for initial funding. Permanence seeks to answer, How can we ensure that the construction of the first lunar base is able to expand into the foreseeable future in both population and space?, while significance seeks to answer, How can we ensure that the consequences of operating the settlement are economically beneficial to society? There is not much literature to answer these questions, despite the importance of the answers.

The solutions will no doubt be a culturally diverse response, considering the needs of society as a whole to serve as a safeguard for the temporal success of a permanent lunar settlement.

2. Haym Benaroya is a Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Rutgers University. His research interests are focused on the conceptualization and analysis of structures placed in challenging environments. These include offshore drilling structures and lunar surface structures for manned habitation. Often, the characterization of the environment is the primary challenge, as with problems of flow-induced vibration.

The Moon as the Site for Humanitys Expansion into the Solar System and Beyond

The Moon offers numerous advantages, providing a foothold for humanity as it struggles to escape Earths gravity well to become a spacefaring civilization. While the battle for most has been between the Moon and Mars, the vision of the Starship Congress is beyond those, even beyond the Solar System. Here, our goal is the next star system, with a sophisticated exploration of the technologies that are needed to send a precursor robotic ship many light years from Earth.

Even with such a long-‐term mission, the Moon remains the ideal spot to develop technologies, understand the low and microgravity space environment, assess the effects of radiation on our machines and structures, and learn how to build these so that they can self-‐repair and be reliable in this way for decades.

We will provide a background to current thinking and the engineering and other issues regarding the Moon as a viable place for humans to begin the long journey into space.

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Starship Congress presentations make the case for permanent moon colonization - Next Big Future

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