Thursday, April 16, 2009

Mooning for private enterprise

It's not what you think!

NASA is developing a plan for a privately run network of lunar comsats. The comsats will support the (coming at us way too slow) return to the moon and prospective long-term base there. See article here.

The likely use of lunar comsats shouldn't surprise anyone. After all, if we're going back, surely this time we also intend to explore the far side -- which is forever without a line-of-sight to/from Earth. Even on the near side, which stays visible to Earth, there will be spots -- in deep craters and near mountains, for example -- lacking a sight line home. To explore any such sites will require relays.

What's the alternative to orbiting comm relays? Time and effort wasted deploying relays all over the surface. And/or burdening long-range lunar explorations, whether robotic or crewed, with transceivers and antennae able to handle the more-than-a-light-second distance each way (versus shorter-range comm to the lunar base itself).

So: the benefits of lunar comsats have long been clear. The novelty comes in recognizing that the lunar comm array can be obtained commercially. Kudos.

6 comments:

Catreona said...

Ed,

do you think we'll see a return to the Moon, much less exploration and bases in our lifetime? The mindless idiots, er, suits in Washington have already wasted the greater part of my lifetime. I was eight years old when Gene Cernan and co. left the Moon for the last time. I understand NASA had plans for a lunar base to be in place and presumably functional by 1978... It's a crime IMO that the lunar program was totally scrapped. But, I don't have much confidence that anything will come of current ideas. Or, rather, I'll believe it when, or if, I see it.

Edward M. Lerner said...

Hope springs eternal ...

Catreona said...

True.

We are a very foolish race, the Human Race.

AReichl said...

i feel with you - i also feel "wasted" by idiots.

Let's wait until someone else (China?) will go to the moon - then suddenly our "suits" will wake up.

Steven Odhner said...

Well, it shouldn't come as a big surprise that they won't be building the moon base any time soon. Sigh.

Oh, also... I swore I would never get involved with chain letters, but here I am. You've been 'tagged', I guess. Details are HERE if you are interested.

Edward M. Lerner said...

Steven,

Thanks for the New Scientist link. It's discouraging, alas.

- Ed