Biden reveals White House plans to live and mine resources on the moon

First mission of NASA’s Artemis program Finally Traveling Around the Moon in the Orion Spacecraft, a huge step forward in the ambitious plan to land humans on the moon’s surface as early as 2025. It’s also the start of the White House’s lofty ambitions to build a permanent outpost on the moon.

White House National Science and Technology Council last week freed Its new “National Earth-Lunar Science and Technology Strategy” is a wide-ranging document that explains the Biden administration’s goals for Earth-lunar space, the region under the gravitational pull of the Earth and Moon. The strategy outlines four main goals, which, broadly speaking, seem to make sense.them include Invest in research and development, partner with other nations to build a space communications network, and improve overall human situational awareness in the vicinity of and on the Moon.

However, the plan also hints at a host of open legal, political and environmental questions about how life on the lunar surface should work.

Scott Pace, director of the George Washington University Space Policy Institute, told Recode: “Test missions, such as Artemis 1, which is going on now, and the next crewed mission and the first landing , all set up fairly well.” “The question is, ‘Okay, what happens next?'”

Part of the answer to this question is “advancing science”. For example, the United States is interested in how the far side of the Moon, the shielded area of ​​the Moon that is not affected by Earth’s radio frequencies, can be used for new types of astronomical observations. Developing resources and technologies on the lunar surface could ultimately make future missions to Mars easier.

But the reasons for the government’s interest in the moon go far beyond expanding human knowledge of the universe. The White House’s new strategy emphasizes “economic development activities” and “economic growth” in Earth-lunar space and on the Moon, and also outlines the administration’s political goals, including “achieving American leadership.”

“It’s clear that this is not only about research and science, but also about the economic prospects of the Moon,” explained Namrata Goswami, an independent space policy analyst. “Until now, the United States has been very reluctant to engage so explicitly in the exploitation of lunar resources.”

Pace believes that if the United States succeeds in its goals, the moon may end up looking very different.The lunar orbit will be filled with more satellites, including a lunar GPS network and The Human Space Station is capable of housing human astronauts as a rest stop before landing on the lunar surface.While there are no plans to build a lunar city, there are proposals for a permanent outpost at the lunar south pole, where astronauts could one day rotate for six months (China and Russia have already done so). Announce plans for a lunar outpost, too).If NASA has its way, the moon’s surface could end up containing a series of nuclear power planta resource fetch operation, or even something like moon internet. Given these plans, the United States Government estimates that the level of human activity in Earth-lunar space over the next decade may exceed all activity that has occurred since 1957 combined.

SpaceX Starship is designed to deliver cargo on the lunar surface.
SpaceX

But the White House plan faces several obstacles. Michelle Hanlon, co-director of the Aerospace Law Center at the University of Mississippi School of Law, said political tensions alone could be a major source of conflict.

For one thing, the world still doesn’t have a shared vision of what the moon’s future should look like.Only over 20 countries have sign The U.S.-led Artemis Accords, which include a set of principles for exploring and using the lunar surface. Not surprisingly, the former head of Roscosmos, Say The country will not support the Artemis program in its current form, and Congress has banned NASA Serving Cooperation with China since 2011. While the White House continues to emphasize international cooperation, and the moon itself is quite large — it’s less than 15 million square miles – Multiple countries could end up bickering over the same resource, such as a specific landing site or a certain batch of materials.

Those tensions could even affect efforts to reach a consensus on what’s happening in Earth-lunar space, one of the administration’s main goals. The White House said it wanted to expand access to space weather and satellite tracking data to help address emerging satellite traffic management problems and create a catalog of all objects on the Moon. But it’s not clear how that will happen.

“I don’t think the U.S. is anywhere near that,” Moriba Jah, Privateer Space’s co-founder and chief scientist, said in an email. “As far as the current U.S. catalog of space objects is concerned, which is almost exclusively developed and maintained by the U.S. Military/DoD, it cannot be a fully transparent organization for obvious reasons.”

Meanwhile, humans have begun exporting a more pressing problem to the moon: trash.the surface of the moon has scattered Items left behind by astronauts, including golf almost 100 bags of fecesHumans have also figured out ways to destroy the Moon without actually visiting it. In 2009, NASA intentionally crashed a robotic spacecraft into the lunar surface to study potential water source On the moon, and this March, space junk believed to be from China 2014 rocket mission crashed into the lunar surface. Space environmentalists worry that some of the environmental damage humans have wrought on Earth could become a problem on the moon and its orbit.

Ideally, the nascent space economy will focus on preventing space pollution and avoiding, as much as possible, the use of disposable machinery such as satellites, rovers, and rockets.

“We need to make these things reusable and recyclable,” explained Jah, who is also a professor of aerospace engineering at UT Austin. “And for those that aren’t, how do we dispose of them properly so they don’t cause harmful environmental impacts, rather than just throwing things away?”

Of course, the White House’s recently released strategy is only a first draft of what the administration’s moon plans might eventually look like, and it’s no guarantee that America’s vision will become a reality. However, it is increasingly clear that the Artemis space age will face major challenges. As humanity ventures deeper into space—to the moon—humanity risks introducing the same problems we haven’t solved here on Earth, including conflict between nations, environmental destruction, and even the challenge of preserving our history.

“With all this activity on the moon, whether unintentional or malicious, Neil Armstrong’s blueprint is going to be tragic,” Hanlon said. “It’s going to get very crowded very quickly.”

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