In less than twenty-four hours fuego pointed me to two news articles that directly affect my plans for building a hotel on the moon. The first was about a space elevator, and I was excited until I realized that the company involved hadn’t progressed past the press release stage of research. It was nothing more than attention whoring. Carbon nanotubes are the material du jour for building this thing, and when mankind can build them economically I expect we’ll have us a space elevator. That makes me happy.
Except for the problem of the huge transverse force at the base of the elevator to conserve the angular momentum of the Earth. As we move stuff up the ladder, the Earth has to slow down. Not much, but a little. The force to slow the Earth is transmitted through the base of the cable. Our friends the nanotubes are really strong when you pull them, but will snap like toothpicks when stressed to the side as the elevator car rises.
I really want to think of the answer to that one.
Meanwhile, fuego sent me a link to another credulous article, this time about robots which could build structures on the moon, using the materials at hand. Well, duh. You’re not going to carry bricks to the moon to build your house, you’re going to use the materials that are already there. Also, it makes complete sense to have a robot do the work. There is a cool video of a wall-building robot. Apparently the breakthrough that inspired this particular article is an animation of hypothetical robots building hypothetical structures on the moon. Wow! That’s some serious progress! I do note in the animation, however, that past the perimeter wall, the lunar landscape is untouched.
The first moon colony may not even have windows, and even if they do, the inhabitants will likely cover them up, because the construction scars that dominate the landscape will outlive mankind. The first house on the moon will have a view of a junkyard. On their days off the first lunar inhabitants will say, “Let’s go find someplace without footprints.”
They will go to my hotel.