Scientific Data and Site Selection
We're not terribly concerned about trying to spot our initial base right
on top of the mother lode of water or minerals. The amount of the lunar
surface which has been explored is almost trivial; a polar site is no
guarantee of resources (or any site for that matter). The first outpost
will have to an exploration camp, from which we can venture out to search
for the resources and scientific data we're looking for. We'll have a full
plate on the first landing without investing all our crew's time in
searching for water in the shadowed craters. We might be better off in the
long run to maintain some interest by saving such mysteries for later
visits to the moon.
Apollo failed in this regard. Since the
motivation for Apollo was purely political -- to the point that any
scientific objectives were seriously begrudged by the program managers and
the astronauts -- they were unable to explain why one mission was different
from another. We can fix that. For example, once we have our base
operating, we can land a pressurized rover to use for excursions to the
south pole, or to likely candidates for lava tubes or dust fields rich in
We have come up with several ways to relocate the lunar base later, if
it's necessary. We're not yet convinced it will be. The purpose of the
first base is to bootstrap the wonders to come.
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