Fly Me to the Moon

By Nancy Jane Moore


photo by Luc Viator

I’m not a fan of Newt Gingrich. Since there’s been way too much coverage of the U.S. Republican Party’s search for a presidential candidate, I won’t bore you with what’s wrong with Newt. Instead, I want to talk about the one thing he’s said lately that I completely agree with.

We should establish human settlements on the Moon.

I don’t know Newt’s reasons for wanting to develop the Moon (and finding out would mean I’d have to read way more than I want to know about his ideas), but I can come up with plenty on my own.

For starters, it’s always bothered me that we worked so hard to get there in 1969, and then we dropped the ball. Surely something more should have come of the Moon Landing by now. A revitalized space program that includes lunar settlements, coupled with more exploration of the rest of the Solar system, would not only expand scientific knowledge, but also create jobs and spur even more technological innovation.

Then there’s energy. As I understand it, the Moon’s regolith (the loose material that covers rock on planets and moons) contains Helium-3, which is rare on Earth. Helium-3 can be used in fusion reactors and offers possibilities for safer nuclear energy.

And once we’re established on the Moon and add more space stations, we can use that as a base for mining the Asteroid Belt, which has a wealth of Helium-3 and platinum metals. It also has a lot of water from spent comets. Physicist John S. Lewis wrote about this in his book Mining the Sky: Untold Riches from the Asteroids, Comets, and Planets.

Right now such things sound like science fiction (I use them in mine), but actually we have enough skill and knowledge right now to make them science fact in the foreseeable future.

Speaking of science, I’m sure there’s a lot of research that would benefit from use of the Moon’s lighter gravity and minimal atmosphere.

And then there’s my personal desires. I’m starting to face the fact that I’m not immortal. By the time human beings actually send humans out to explore the far reaches of the Universe, I’ll be long dead. The Moon is my only chance at setting foot on some place that’s not Earth.

As my martial arts injuries catch up with me, it also occurs to me that retiring to a place with low gravity might have benefits for folks with arthritis, bad knees, wonky hips, and so forth. Retirement homes on the Moon sound like a good plan to me.

But while I’m not among the crowd poking fun at Newt for his Moon dreams, I discovered by reading Charles M. Blow’s column on the subject in last weekend’s NY Times that (not surprisingly) Newt added a bunch of crazy ideas to his Moon plan.

It must be an American settlement, Newt said, according to Blow. And then there’s the topper: Once there are at least 13,000 colonists on the Moon, they could petition for statehood.

13,000? Really? Right now there are 600,000 people living in Washington, D.C., who would like to have a state (and a member of Congress and a couple of senators) and nobody’s doing anything about that. They’ve already got more people than at least one state (Wyoming) and are close in size to several others, but no one wants to give them real representation in Congress.

Truth is, I suspect once we get settlors on the Moon they’ll get tired of putting up with Earth control and start a revolution to establish their own government.

Newt claims to be an historian. There’s a precedent for that in American history. He could look it up.


Flashes of IlluminationFlashes of Illumination, a collection of my short-short fiction, is now available here from Book View Cafe. This 52-story ebook collects the flash fiction I published weekly during the first year of Book View Cafe, and adds in a few later stories as well.

My novella Changeling remains available as an ebook through Book View Cafe. It’s a coming of age story.

Both books are $2.99 and available in four DRM-free formats: mobi, epub, prc, and pdf.

Posted in Science permalink

About Nancy Jane Moore

Nancy Jane Moore's science fiction novel, The Weave, is now available in print and ebook versions from Aqueduct Press. Some of her short stories are now appearing as reprints on Curious Fictions. She is a founding member of Book View Cafe. Her BVC ebooks can be found here. She also has short stories and essays in most of the BVC anthologies. In addition to writing fiction, Nancy Jane, who has a fourth degree black belt in Aikido, teaches empowerment self defense. She is at work on a self defense book that emphasizes non-fighting skills.


Fly Me to the Moon — 6 Comments

  1. “Truth is, I suspect once we get settlors on the Moon they’ll get tired of putting up with Earth control and start a revolution to establish their own government.”

    Mmmm, yeah. Noveling about that right now. 😀

  2. Even if Newt hasn’t read your work, Cara, we can hope that he’s read his Heinlein and Clarke. (Why nobody has made A FALL OF MOONDUST into a movie is beyond me; it’s a natural.)
    I expect that from the political view it is fondly and shortsightedly hoped that any Moon state would be staunchly Republican. That’s been the big problem with DC statehood, the residents there persistently voting by their own lights instead of harking to their betters. It already says “Taxation Without Representation” on the DC license plates, and I wish they would get it on their flag as well.

  3. Brenda, I was very sorry to find out when I left DC that I couldn’t keep my old license plates with “Taxation Without Representation” on them (DC makes you give them back, I guess to keep people from using them for nefarious purposes). I wanted to hang them on my wall. You’re right about the flag.

    In John Hemry’s Stark’s War series he deals with an American Moon colony that would be glad to be a US possession if the U.S. would just live up to its principles. I agree with John about the principles in question (and recommend the series highly as great military SF with thought-provoking political overtones), but I still suspect lunar settlers will want independence.

  4. There are so, so many reasons for having a settlement on the moon. The biggest one, for me, is that it is an enabling technology. All of the issues about going to Mars go away if you start from the moon. It’s relatively easy to get there. We learn by living on the moon anything we’re going to need to live anywhere else. Railguns and electric catapults work on the moon– separating once and for all the necessity of taking your escape speed propellent with you. Free energy for at least two weeks every month. Hard vacuum. Ultra high structures.

    That’s just about a minute’s worth.

  5. Sure as gun’s iron, this is naught but a bait-and-switch on the part of the Newt. Once elected, even if he makes the attempt to start the project, he will not secure funding — other more charming ventures will beckon, like starting a war, or deporting gays, or something.