Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Moon is Heating Up!

Not literally, unless you count what the Sun does to it every day. No, I'm speaking not of Fahrenheit heat, but of Dollar heat. And Euros, and Yen. You may not have noticed these developments, since other stories, like Iraq and Anna Nicole, have been, as they say, using up all the media oxygen. But it seems that we are on the verge, the very brink, of the commercialization and colonization of the Moon. If you live another 13 years or so, it will happen in your lifetime.

First, NASA plans to spend $100 billion to begin human settlement of the Moon by 2020. That means a continual human presence there, not just a Hi and Bye. Been there, done that. No, this time it'll be different because we'll be there for good. At least that's our intent. Our alien overlords may intervene, but it's more likely that they'll stay on the sidelines for awhile yet.

Second, NASA is "making room for the private sector to get in on the ground floor." Alan Boyle, Science Editor for MSNBC, quotes Pete Worden, director of NASA's Ames Research Center, "I'm quite optimistic that privately funded science missions are going to be a wave of the future."

If we can get past the thicket of clich├ęs in NASA official-speak, the news is actually quite exhilarating. What might be in the offing, vis-a-vis Moon-side profit centers? NASA officials envision nothing very exciting (telescopes, interactive TV virtual reality tours for 5th-grade science classes), but that's not their milieu, is it? We can think of more fun things, like casinos and DisneyMoon, or CSI Moon and Moon Idol.

In the mean time, if you're looking for an exciting job, check the help wanted listings for home on the Moon.