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JSPES, Vol. 29, No. 1 (Spring 2004 )
pp. 3-64

Tapping the Wealth of the Moon

Klaus P. Heiss

With the renewed attention to Space Exploration and the role of humans in Space questions of the uses of the Moon and other bodies of the Solar system have come to the forefront: is human Space flight but a romantic quest of childhood dreams or are there key opportunities to be opened and explored for the benefit of mankind - on Earth or in Space.

Economic laws - which apply in Space as well as on Earth - will limit beneficial uses of Space for Earth to the immediate vicinity of Earth in the solar system, the Moon. These 'constraints' will limit the uses for Earth to essentially observations, communications and energy - all commodities with 'low mass' and 'speed of light' transmission.

The revolutionary concept of a 'condominium' of observation facilities is proposed for observations of the universe, the Sun and the Earth - providing a stable, nearly limitless aperture across the electromagnetic spectrum with huge advantages in reliability, costs and assurance of continuity of observations. Similarly, communications, navigation, command and control of civil and scientific activities on the Moon and for Cis- and Translunar space will change fundamentally.

Beyond these uses, the 'tapping' of the vast Solar energy resources available on the Moon promises fundamental changes in Space operations, Space transportation and potentially clean energy supplies across all regions of Earth. E.g. with 1 GWe supply on the Moon a new age of 'fuel-less' space transportation across Cis- and Translunar space is enabled, ultimately allowing speeds of up to one third the speed of light for missions to nearby solar systems.

Last and not least, with such assured energy supplies, all the lunar resources can be tapped for the establishment of Closed Ecological Life Support Systems (CELSS) leading to the first settlement independent of Earth - a most historic step for mankind to assuring its survival and expansion into Space.