Moon Colonization July 20, 1989: President Bush uses the 20th anniversary of the first footsteps on the moon to declare that Americans should return, establish a permanent presence there, and go on to Mars (Hartmann). After Bush proposed this idea of creating a permanent colony on the moon to serve as a “pit stop” on the way to Mars, NASA took it as a mandate to start planning. This idea of moon colonies brought upon a mood that was not seen since the days of the Apollo missions. The possibilities of a moon colony are great. The problem of overcrowding could be solved.
Taking millions of people (over a matter of time) to the moon would greatly reduce the Earth’s rapidly growing population. While the people are living there, industrial factories could be built, producing goods for further space exploration. Planetary Scientist for NASA, Alan Binder, says “…slowly but surely, the way our forefathers did in the New World, we'd build up an industrial capacity in space. The moon opens up the solar system. If you have industrial capacity to build from lunar materials, the moon could be a harbor.
You could go there first, on your way to Mercury, Venus, or Mars. " This is all seems like a good idea, that is if it didn’t cost the nation an arm and a leg to implement. Also, due to lack of knowledge, we do not know the full effects of the moons one sixth gravity effect on the human body. Furthermore, the moons lack of an atmosphere, and harsh geological conditions, would not be so kind to the equipment set up to build this industrial franchise. Not only will the colonization of the moon be costly and inefficient, but also detrimental to human health and safety.
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For starters, building a spaceship that is capable of creating a force strong enough to escape the gravitational pull of the Earth, support the life of humans for days, and be able to come back down through Earths atmosphere, costs millions of dollars. The Space Shuttle Endeavour, the orbiter built to replace the Space Shuttle Challenger, cost approximately $1. 7 billion (NASA. gov). And a colony in space would need supplies due to the lack of resources on the moon. Shipping those supplies to the Space colony would cost a lot.
The cost per pound into orbit was around $1000 during the years of the space shuttle program (Allen). Incorporate inflation, and you have a multi million dollar shipment of food, clothing, tools, etc. Once all the tools are shipped and ready to build, there would be the cost of actually constructing a factory or place to live. Rome (on Earth) was not built in a day; imagine trying to build a city in the extreme weather conditions of the moon, where gravity’s pull is one sixth that of the Earth. Building this colony requires a 30 year plan, costing $500 to $600 billion dollars (Guterl).
Those prices alone make the Moon colony extremely costly and inefficient. Now let us say that this colony was built, and people did live there. What effect would it have on the human body, being in an environment where there is constant sunlight? Located at the Lunar North Pole, where all the water for farming is, there is constant sunlight, day in and day out. Prolonged human exposure to solar UV radiation may result in acute and chronic health effects on the skin, eye and immune system. Sunburn (erythema) is the best-known acute effect of excessive UV radiation exposure.
Over the longer term, UV radiation induces degenerative changes in cells of the skin, fibrous tissue and blood vessels leading to premature skin aging, photodermatoses and actinic keratoses. Another long-term effect is an inflammatory reaction of the eye. In the most serious cases, skin cancer and cataracts can occur (World Health Organization). These statistics were taken on Earth, where we have an atmosphere to block most of the Sun’s harmful rays. In an environment where there is no atmosphere at all, the effects would be indescribable.
After a year of exposure people would end up with 3rd degree sunburns, old wrinkly skin, and a bad case of cataracts. The conditions on the Moon are just not safe for any human. Another health factor is the effect of living in an environment where the gravity is one sixth that of the Earths. Exposure to weightlessness over month-long periods has been demonstrated to cause deterioration of physiological systems, such as loss of bone and muscle mass and a depressed immune system (Webster). Because this would obviously be a permanent residence for the people living there, they would be there much longer than a month.
On average, people lose about 30 percent of their strength between ages 50 and 70, and another 30 percent of what's left per decade after that. Generally, people lose about 1 percent of their lean muscle mass per year after age 40. After a year on the moon a humans bones and muscle mass would deteriorate so greatly that they would have the body of a weak elderly 85 year old. In addition to those health concerns Space travel weakens the body's immune system and alters infectious diseases, making them more potent and resistant to antibiotics (Webster). Dr.
Cheryl Nickerson, an associate professor in Tulane University's department of microbiology and immunology, states, "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that infectious disease could be a real show stopper in space flight, as we start sending people out on two- to three-year missions and colonizing the moon, it's not a question of if an outbreak occurs but when. " Basically this moon colony could end up being eerily reminiscent of the black plague. After looking at all the facts, the colonization of the moon would put America and any other country who attempts to settle there, in hundreds of billions of dollars of debt.
After it is set up, it would cost even more money to keep it up and running. The health effects from the low gravity would make permanent residency there not so permanent, because it would lead to death. When we live here on Earth, were surrounded by a wonderful, safe, UV absorbing, solar wind blocking, and sun flare reflecting atmosphere, as where the Moon doesn’t even have any sort of atmosphere to protect human beings. In reality colonizing the moon wouldn’t solve any problems on Earth, it would only cause more.
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