The Craziest Things People Have Proposed Putting on the Moon

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PostSun Oct 07, 2012 4:35 pm » by Evildweeb


........depends on your POV I suppose..........

The Craziest Things People Have Proposed Putting on the Moon

By Adam Mann
October 5, 2012


NASCAR Race | Image: Garry McLeod

You might be excused if, upon reading about a proposal to build a supercomputer on the moon, your first thought was, “Wasn’t there a Heinlein novel about this?”

But the idea is real and a lunar supercomputer could serve some important functions, like processing space science data and helping to alleviate bandwidth problems for the current Deep Space Network. Though many obstacles stand in the way of such a project getting off the ground, it’s not the strangest thing that people have suggested we build on the moon.

It seems that many people in history have thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool if we did that, but on the moon?” Here we've gathered some of the most outlandish, irrational, and occasionally insane ideas that people have proposed for the moon. You can vote for the one you'd most like to see actually built in the poll below.

Think you have a better idea of your own? Let us know what you'd build on the moon and we'll give the best idea to Wired illustrator Simon Lutrin to conjure it up and publish it on Wired Science. It's the next best thing to actually building it.

The recent lunar supercomputer idea is not the first to have been proposed. A company named Space Systems Loral came up with an extraterrestrial backup center named the Lunar Data Cache in 2004. Loral even had a few creative ways to fund their project, mainly centered on spectacles: robot NASCAR races, robot rock heaving contests, and robot wrestling. (Are you not lunartained?!)

A Nuclear Bomb Explosion


Image: NASA/Wired Science

After the early Soviet successes in the Space Race, the U.S. wanted to come up with something dramatic to show everyone who was the most macho imperial space country on this planet. The U.S. Air Force developed a top-secret project codenamed A119 that proposed detonating a nuclear bomb on the lunar surface.

As completely crazy as it sounds, the project went on for many years, even roping a young Carl Sagan in to explore the effects of a nuclear explosion in low gravity. As it turns out, the Soviets had also considered such an undertaking at some point as a display of their might, though those plans never went anywhere. Eventually, international treaties banned nuclear weapons in space and the U.S. settled for the much less A-bomb-tastic idea of landing some men on the moon and safely returning them home.

A Military Base


Image: NASA

Moon bases are a staple of science fiction and perennial favorite NASA plans. But the military has at times eyed the moon, perhaps in order to gain the really high ground advantage over an enemy. In the late 1950s and '60s, both the U.S. Air Force and Army developed proposals for a permanent outpost on the moon, named the Lunex Project and Project Horizon, respectively.

The bases could have provided continuous monitoring of Earth and served as a communication relay station. Of course, the military could simply use satellites to accomplish much the same tasks, and at a much cheaper cost than these multi-billion-dollar projects.

A Giant Ad


Image: Gregory H. Revera/Wikimedia/Wired Science

Though a well-known Rolling Rock campaign claimed the company was going to start projecting its green horse logo on the moon, it wasn’t much more than a viral marketing ad. But that doesn’t mean “moonvertising” couldn’t be a real thing. Apparently the Coca-Cola company has considered using advanced laser technology to make sure uncontacted Amazonian tribesmen can see the Coke logo by simply looking up in the sky.

An Elevator


Image: Screengrab from ElevatorToSpace/Youtube

Why attempt a risky landing maneuver on the lunar surface when you can simply ride an elevator down? There have been a number of proposals to construct an elevator with one side tethered to the moon, including a recent one from a company called Liftport. Such a structure would allow for the easy movement of people and materials from the surface into space.

Similar suggestions to build an Earth space elevator would require exotic and super-strong materials while the lunar elevator could be built with materials available now. But like most massive moon projects, it would probably cost billions (though a Kickstarter campaign was looking to fund a feasibility study for the low-low price of $3 million) and would be useful for rocks, but not people, who could be exposed to massive radiation during the several-week-long elevator ride.

A Space Station in the Middle of Nowhere


Image: NASA

Recent NASA documents reveal that some of the agency’s top officials have come up with something for their new gigantic rocket to carry: a space station to a lunar Lagrange point. This Earth-moon L2 gateway would need minimal fuel to keep it in place since the gravitational tugging from both the Earth and moon would cancel out at this position in deep space.

NASA has proposed building this outpost 277,000 miles from Earth as a relay station that could allow future moon and Mars missions. How to protect a crew from radiation at this location, and rescue them should anything go wrong, hasn’t quite been ironed out. The idea has already been attacked by members of the spaceflight community for putting the horse before the cart. Without an established presence on the moon and elsewhere in space, this project wouldn’t serve much use.

A Mine


Image: Pat Rawlings/NASA

Space enthusiasts have long suggested that the moon might contain a plethora of resources for a needy populace on Earth. Minerals, metals, and helium-3 – which could be used in fusion reactors — have often been proposed as potential mining targets.

Though these dreams are enticing to many, there isn’t yet a really compelling reason to scar the moon’s surface for revenue. Barring unobtanium, there isn’t a substance that could profitably be brought back from the moon. And while diminishing resources are a problem, we could simply use less of our limited means rather than greedily grabbing more. As for the helium-3, talk to us when you get a working fusion power plant.

The 51st State


Image: Peter Freiman/Wikimedia/Wired Science

During the recent Republican primaries, candidate Newt Gingrich was a fount of outlandish (he preferred the term “visionary”) lunar ideas. Gingrich is a space enthusiast of the best kind and during a speech in Florida, he promised a U.S. moon base by 2020. Once this lunar outpost had enough residents, Gingrich also claimed it could apply for statehood, under frontiersman laws established during the settling of the American West. Someone should have told Newt that Manifest Destiny doesn’t rile up a lot of voters these days.



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