[LMB] OT: Practice for terraforming Beta Colony on Earthly deserts.

Matija Grabnar lmb at matija.com
Wed Jun 16 09:23:13 BST 2021

On 16/06/2021 05:58, Matthew George wrote:
> We have no idea how to colonize the Moon.
Oh, we have some ideas. And more ideas will come.
>    We can't establish closed
> ecosystems, or even moderately sustainable ones.

Not as much "we can't" as "the first thing we tried had unexpected 
problems, and we haven't tried anything since".

That is not the nearly same as "we can't". It's just a "we don't YET 
know how".

>    We don't even have the
> technologies it would take to operate mines with remote control on the
> Moon, much less send people there to keep systems running.

Pshaw. Given the funding, I bet I know enough engineers to form a team 
that could design the solutions needed in a year or two. Martian rovers 
(and the helicopter) are given rough instructions, and they execute them 
autonomously - and that is with the signal delay on the order of 15 
minutes. The moon's signal delay is on the order of a second or so. It 
would be awkward for direct remote operation (the way a backhoe operator 
operates a backhoe), but it would only take slightly more 
sophistication. None of this would require any terribly original 
solutions, though it is not yet at the off-the-shelf level.

And of course, the people don't need remote control, they just need a 
living space that doesn't leak atmosphere/water faster than you can 
economically replace them.

>    And there
> aren't any resources available there that would recoup the vast expenses of
> gathering them, not even the rare earths that are fueling the quiet cold
> war over Africa.

Elon Musk is doing a credible job of reducing the vast expenses. It is 
illuminating to compare the costs of Iridium with the costs of the 
Starlink fleet. Most of Iridium's cost was in launch costs. Musk is able 
to use his recoverable vehicles to launch many more satellites than 
Iridium did for far less money (both per launch and per satellite). And 
if starship works, it will cut costs even further.

I found Andy Weir's (author of the Martian) analysis of moon costs quite 

Once the expense of going to the moon is reduced, quite a number of 
things on the moon become economically interesting. And once we're 
there, we will find more.

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