Argument: The proximity of the Moon to Earth makes it ideal to colonize
Sam Dinkin. "Colonize the Moon Before Mars." The Space Review. September 7, 2004: "There are a number of reasons that the Moon is the best place to start space colonization, but the basis of most of them are its proximity to the Earth. Most of these stem from the lower cost of access to the Moon. There are also important engineering, economic and political advantages to starting colonization with the Moon. Before discussing the advantages of the Moon, let’s analyze what a full-court press for Mars colonization looks like.
[...] The Moon has many relative advantages. The first is capital utilization. A Lunar cycler can make hundreds of round trips in the time that a Mars cycler can make. Second, there is much less fuel required to get from the Earth to the Moon than to Mars. Existing technology can be used to get to the Moon (see “Soyuz to the Moon?”, The Space Review, August 2, 2004). A lunar landing mission might cost $120 million for an Ariane 5 booster. If each mission cost another $120 million for the Soyuz, service module and everything else, then that would be $240 million per flight instead of $5 billion per flight. That means that a $50-billion level of commitment from Earth can afford over 400 flights every two years. Of course, that level of commitment could be optimally spent in much better ways. By creating a lunar cycler, a station at L-1, an orbital fuel depot, in situ utilization of lunar oxygen and possibly lunar water, there could be a vibrant community on the Moon.
While a single Ariane 5 could not heft as much as a Mars Direct flight, it may still transfer a comparable amount of resources and people as a Mars Direct flight would to Mars. Since life support and consumables are much less onerous for a short trip than a long trip, there is a lower mass requirement for crew transfer flights to the Moon and much less depreciation of capital in transit. Having new heavy lift that would enable Mars Direct would also enable more sensible lunar colonization missions."
The Moon is the closest large body in the solar system to Earth. While some Earth-crosser asteroids occasionally pass closer, the Moon's distance is consistently within a small range close to 384,400 km. This proximity has several benefits:
- Proximity of Moon to Earth makes it ripe for tourism.
- The energy required to send objects from Earth to the Moon is lower than for most other bodies.
- Transit time is short. The Apollo astronauts made the trip in three days. Other chemical rockets such as would be used for any Moon missions in the next one to two decades at least would take a similar length of time to make the trip.
- The short transit time would also allow emergency supplies to quickly reach a Moon colony from Earth, or allow a human crew to evacuate relatively quickly from the Moon to Earth in case of emergency. This could be an important consideration when establishing the first human colony.
- The round trip communication delay to Earth is less than three seconds, allowing near-normal voice and video conversation, and allowing some kinds of remote control of machines from Earth that are not possible from any other celestial body. The delay for other solar system bodies is minutes or hours; for example, round trip communication time between Earth and Mars ranges from about eight minutes to about forty minutes. This again would be of particular value in an early colony, where life-threatening problems requiring Earth's assistance could occur. (See, for example, Apollo 13.) [Drawn from Wikipedia]