It’s Time to Build a Moon Base

It’s ridiculous that we’re already twelve years into the new millennium and I’m sitting here on Earth like a sucker. Surely you feel the same way. Do you not feel constrained by oppressive Earth gravity each time you leap up and down on your roommate’s bed? Here on Earth my roommate is apt to whine about “property damage,” but on the Moon a bed would serve as a trampoline of staggering capacities. As for lunar trampolines– the mind reels.

If you have an ounce of childhood wonder in you, the prospects of a low-gravity colony should set your imagination ablaze. Picture the giddy thrill golfers would enjoy sinking a hole-in-one which spans the width of Vermont. With low enough gravity and a tall enough dome, we might even be able to make baseball interesting again. Lunar ballerinas would be no less than ethereal dancers.

Who has not watched a kangaroo flee from them in terror after hopping the fence at a zoo, only to think: “How majestic you could leap, oh kangaroo, unfettered by this oppressive Earth gravity and the constant nagging of zookeepers yelling at me to get the hell out of the kangaroo habitat!”

I could go on. Cataloging the Coolness Factor of a lunar base would easily turn into a PhD project and probably earn a Nobel Prize. Let’s turn our attention away from the sheer self-sufficient awesomeness of a Moon base, to reasons boring people might understand and support.

Here’s a question: how much faith do you have in mankind not blowing itself up in nuclear warfare?

We’re not on Red Alert right now, but for thirty years mankind stood at the brink of a Cormac McCarthy novel staring down the gun barrel of nuclear annihilation. Russia and the United States are currently “frenemies,” but there are still at least 11,165 nuclear warheads on the planet.

While there’s a small chance that thermonuclear warfare might result in cool mutations like in X-Men, my understanding is that it’s more probable we’d mostly incinerate, and the few survivors left would eat each other and then succumb to radiation poisoning. (Except for maybe Gary Busey, who I somehow feel would turn out okay.)

Low probability, I know. But peace indefinitely? For the next five hundred years? The next thousand? I’d sleep better knowing humanity has an emergency backup in the event that we obliterate ourselves through tactical idiocy. (And of course I would sleep better in 1/6th the earth’s gravity after a fun day of golfing and chasing lunar kangaroos inside of my domed crater.)

Environmentalists, feel free to pipe in here as well. How optimistic are you that everyone in developing nations will exclusively buy hybrid cars? Even if they do, there are literally more people working in your average McDonald’s than there are on the lookout for extinction-level asteroids on a potential collision course with Minnesota.

Even if we manage to sort out nuclear proliferation, environmental problems, overpopulation and Charlie Sheen, do we really want to live on Earth, exclusively, forever? Assume our species hangs around another 10,000 years. Surely, at some point, intrepid real estate agents will want to expand to asteroids and Mars. If Switzerland ever folds up, where would our beloved trillionaires evade taxes?

Eventually SETI will confirm that intelligent life exists elsewhere, and when that happens we need to be prepared to track it down and seduce it. How can we traverse the galaxy to mack on hot green aliens if we can’t even build a tent city on our nearest orbital body?

A Moon base is pivotal to planetary expansion. Astronauts hanging out on the International Space Station are still shielded by Earth’s atmosphere in terms of radiation. We don’t know what a year-long mission to Mars would actually do to them. But a lunar colony would provide a good test lab. Further, with expansive infrastructure, a lunar installation would be easier to launch rockets from than Earth’s obese gravity.

Presently NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover, one of the greatest technological triumphs in the history of mankind, is puttering around our crimson buddy looking for fossilized microbes, neat locations for Instagram photos, and possible loose change.

Elon Musk, a 39-year-old billionaire and visionary plans to retire on Mars, and he has the money and pluck to potentially pull it off. Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic, intends to create a space tourism industry.

As we move forward both as as species and as a nation, we’re going to have to make tough calls on budget cutbacks. So I must pose this question to Baby Boomers, our largest voting demographic and the group most directly concerned with impending retirement:

Do you want to top out in Florida with a bunch of alligators, high humidity and tacky pink lawn flamingos? Or would you rather finish up on the Moon, with 1/6th the Earth’s gravity, no need for a cane, and the knowledge that you are pioneering the next step in mankind’s destiny: the stars?

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 Andrew Heaton is a writer and standup comedian in New York City. If this post made you laugh or think, kindly "like" it on Facebook.

9 Comments

  • Melody
    August 15, 2012 - 9:13 am | Permalink

    This post was pretty dang funny, Heaton.

    • Heaton
      August 21, 2012 - 12:42 am | Permalink

      Thanks, Melody! I’m trying to keep a balance between random posts and my wonky but poorly illustrated political diatribes. Do you have a preference?

  • HEPBURN
    August 15, 2012 - 9:46 am | Permalink

    WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO MY IDEA OF JUST LANDING SPACE STATIONS ON THE MOON? SEND THEM UP, USE THEM FOR A BIT, THEN LAND THEM ON THE MOON AND USE THEM AS MOON BASES, AFTER SOME TIME MORE AND MORE STATIONS WILL COME TO SETTEL ON THE MOON AND WE CAN JOIN THEM ALL UP SLOWLY COLONISING THE MOON, GET IT DONE NEW WORLDER, IM SICK OF INVENTING EVERYTHING FOR YOUR COUNTRY.

    • Heaton
      August 21, 2012 - 12:44 am | Permalink

      That’s an excellent idea! With proper propulsion we could land them on the lunar surface. There would probably be some structural damage, but at least we’d have some components already laying around up there to work with. SkyLab just friggin broke up and scattered across Australia– we could have at least hurled it into Mare Humorous.

  • Teresa
    August 15, 2012 - 10:12 am | Permalink

    Minnesota is offended… We don’t refer to them as lawn mowers! They’re our John Deers!

    I think my kangaroo army would be much more effective on the moon. I’m in.

    • Heaton
      August 21, 2012 - 12:44 am | Permalink

      Kangaroo armies, monkey armies, robot armies… The moon will be a wonderful but potentially exotically dangerous place.

  • Rural AR Mom
    August 17, 2012 - 3:43 pm | Permalink

    In addition to landing space stations on the moon, we could mine space trash to reuse/recycle as building materials.

    • Heaton
      August 21, 2012 - 12:46 am | Permalink

      Also an excellent idea. We could build a sort of orbital catapult and shoot debris into one crater, which rovers could excavate and use to assemble stuff for our colony. Also, NASA would be thankful, as they’re legitimately getting concerned about all of the “space trash” we leave up there from defunct satellites and multi-stage rockets.

  • July 25, 2013 - 4:59 am | Permalink

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