Winter's on its way, which gives us the perfect excuse to head for warmer climates. On this month's show, we see what's new in one of largest international s...

Comment by Heather Spoonheim on October 27, 2013 at 11:29pm

I love the idea of clean energy - but all that hydrogen in and helium out means we'll start depleting our hydrogen reserves.

Comment by Gallup's Mirror on October 28, 2013 at 10:26pm

I love the idea of clean energy - but all that hydrogen in and helium out means we'll start depleting our hydrogen reserves.

This is true because 95% of hydrogen in the US is made from fossil fuels. Once fusion works we wouldn't need to keep using hydrogen indefinitely. Helium-3 is a superior fusion fuel. Fuse He-3 to He-3 and nothing comes out but boatloads of electricity.

The lunar regolith contains 2.4 million tons of Helium-3 according to early estimates. If you're willing and able to make the trip, the atmospheres of Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus contain trillions of tons of helium-3.

For added perspective, at an estimated conversion efficiency of 70% about 8.6 tons of helium-3 would supply the energy needs for 109 million households in the US for one year. (A coal power plant has a 38% conversion efficiency, and the largest one in America burns 11 million tons of coal per year.)

It would be fantastic if the earthbound fossil fuel economy become a space-bound helium-3 economy. But it won't be a Star Trek-inspired idealism that drive humanity into space. It'll be profit. I can live with that, as long as we get there.

Comment by Heather Spoonheim on October 28, 2013 at 10:43pm

Sound like, with the right device, we could have plenty of power for a moon base. :D

Comment by Gallup's Mirror on October 28, 2013 at 11:04pm

Sound like, with the right device, we could have plenty of power for a moon base. :D

Well, they built Moonbase Alpha in 1999-- back in 1975-- using a plot device: an explosion that threw the moon out of orbit and into deep space. They didn't have enough power though: it fizzled after just two seasons. ;)

Comment by Heather Spoonheim on October 28, 2013 at 11:08pm

I totally loved that show!  I especially like the woman who could turn into a tiger - I thought that was a great superpower.

Comment by Gallup's Mirror on October 28, 2013 at 11:16pm

The 'eagle' spaceships were my favorite. The show was ahead of its time. Two years, as it turned out. If it had debuted after Star Wars, it might have lasted.

As it turns out, a moon base powered by helium-3 may not be so far-fetched. I doubt I'll live to see it, but I enjoy the thought that science fiction television, might have foreseen the future-- in a way-- within a hundred years or so.

Comment by Heather Spoonheim on October 28, 2013 at 11:26pm

Not sure how old you are, but I was about school age when Space 1999 debuted.  The woman who could turn into animals was pure fantasy but the idea of a moonbase wasn't fantasy at all.  When people talked about the moon missions it was generally felt that the only reason we weren't still going up was that NASA had put temporary landings on hold in order to build a permanent base - it all just seemed very matter-of-fact.

Comment by ɐuɐz ǝllǝıuɐp on October 29, 2013 at 9:37am

Heather what is your opinion why they scrapped the idea of building a permanent base ? Would had been better than the ISS space station ?

Comment by Heather Spoonheim on October 29, 2013 at 2:23pm

I think the biggest problem was it would have been far too costly.  NASA was also becoming concerned with radiation exposure - in the early days they did a lot of cowboy shit that they wouldn't commit to in any long term program.  Even given an almost unlimited budget, the technology to put a truly viable, long term power supply up there just wasn't available back then.  There really wasn't any justification for putting a base up there other than that it would have been seriously cool.

Comment by Gallup's Mirror on October 29, 2013 at 3:37pm

 There really wasn't any justification for putting a base up there other than that it would have been seriously cool.

I've done a fair bit of research in the last year on the history of space travel and proposals for colonization of the moon and the solar system. This is for a science fiction novel that I am writing. (One book I highly recommend: 'Packing for Mars' by Mary Roach.)

There have been proposals (mostly quasi-military in nature) for moon bases going back to the 1950s. The early ones were killed due to feasibility and logistical concerns. This wasn't to do with power, though. The Nautilus, a nuclear submarine, by then was keeping a crew of 105 submerged for four months at a time using a power source that consumed no oxygen and emitted no dangerous consumption emissions. The main concerns at the time were that (1) weightlessness might be lethal, (2) the moon might be covered in oceans of dust many miles deep and (3) that it might not be possible to send air and water resupply rockets reliably enough to sustain the base. (Rockets still tended to explode on launch pads as often as they flew into the sky.)

After the Apollo landings established this could be done, it came down the reason you stated above: justification. There were reasons to have a moon base-- such as 1/6th gravity being cheaper to launch satellites into earth orbit, and lack of lunar atmosphere being ideal for ground observatories-- but the up-front cost never seemed to work out.

But now that we know there's helium-3 up there, 600 million metric tons of water ice in just the craters shown circled below, and a good chance of having fusion reactors down here within the next few decades, that probably changes the budgeting enough to make it worth doing.

Comment

You need to be a member of Think Atheist to add comments!

Join Think Atheist

Atheist Sites

Forum

"Probably won't report".....

Started by Belle Rose in Society. Last reply by Noel 2 hours ago. 17 Replies

In Defense of ‘Islamophobia’

Started by Brian Daurelle in Society. Last reply by Erock68la 5 hours ago. 62 Replies

The Movie Kiss: Romance or Rape?

Started by Unseen in Society. Last reply by Erock68la 9 hours ago. 45 Replies

Blog Posts

Rounding Up?

Posted by Carol Foley on November 20, 2014 at 3:17am 2 Comments

Services we love!

We are in love with our Amazon

Book Store!

Gadget Nerd? Check out Giz Gad!

Advertise with ThinkAtheist.com

In need a of a professional web site? Check out the good folks at Clear Space Media

© 2014   Created by umar.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service