ASI W9900323r1.1

Moon Miners' Manifesto

#107 July 1997

Section the Artemis Data Book

Low Earth Orbit Resorts

Low Earth Orbit Resorts "Niagara Falls" for Lunans
by Mark Kaehny and Peter Kokh
Given all that Lunan pioneers will have to sacrifice in forsaking the home world, its beauties, its comforts, its amenities, its adventures for the rough-edged frontier and its unforgiving character, it would be natural to expect that Earth would be far and away their favorite vacation destination. But as much as they might desire it, for those who'll have been on the Moon a long time, years or more, "going home" even for a visit, will not be that easy.

Individuals who have spent up to a year or more in orbit have needed weeks to regain their Earth-honed muscle tone and strength - no way to spend the preciously short time of a vacation. Sixth-weight, the fractional 1/6th G experienced on the Moon will not invite so drastic or complete a physiological deterioration as does the zero-G of orbit. Nonetheless, given enough time, especially time without exercise adequate to retain Earth muscle tone, returning to Earth for a visit will be quite a challenge.

Maintaining full "hexapotency", a capacity to "handle" a gravitational environment six times as demanding as that of the new world they've come to adopt, will require a struggle that many, perhaps most, will abandon &emdash; especially once they've lost all reservation about staying on the Moon for the balance of their lives, once they've found their new lives, hardships and all, sufficiently rewarding. Staying in shape for an Earth return visit will take time, determination, sacrifice, and more likely than not, money.

Getting back in shape, after surrendering to acclimatization to the lunar environment will require even more effort and pain-gain swap than staying in shape in the first place. There will be those who will work at it sufficiently to be able to handle a return. Just as certainly, there will be more who don't.

To put the challenge in perspective, Earth's surface gravity is more than twice as forbidding, gravity wise, for the Moon-acclimatized as Jupiter's surface (if it had one) would be, gravity-wise, for us terrestrials. No one would want to go to a Jupiter aerostat station where he would weigh 265% his normal weight - all the time, without relief. Why then would we expect a fully adapted Lunan, even one born on Earth, to relish going somewhere where his weight would jump 600% - all the time?

For most Lunans, Earth, however tantalizing, will be out of the question as a tourist destination. Virtual Reality parlors, travelogue videos, magazines and other armchair approximations of a visit to Earth will be the options of choice.

But Lunans could return to Earth, at least Low Earth Orbit, in complete comfort, staying at LEO resorts and orbitels offering artificial sixthweight, Lunar gravity. No, they wouldn't get to walk the green hills of Earth again, not under open blue cloud pocked skies. But here in orbit they could hover in comfort over the brink of the gravity well, much as honeymooners perch on ledges over Niagara Falls.

From this Olympian vantage point, they could sample the wonders of Earth-in-the-sky that they have always enjoyed back home on the Moon - in much greater detail and immediateness and in a field of vision fullness that IMAX can only emulate. Much as the first lunar tourists will skim over the Moon's surface without landing in Apollo 8 type orbits, so these first Lunan Earth tourists will enjoy what they can without landing. Sixthweight orbitel wings that cater to Lunans might be lavishly and expensively furnished Earth style (plenty of wood, leather, fabrics horrifically expensive on the Moon) to enhance the Earth-visit experience.

Lunans will prefer sixthweight orbitels in higher inclination orbits so that they can see up close more of the Earth's surface. An inclination in the 60-65° range would present them with all the inhabited continents plus the fringes of Antarctica. Higher inclination orbitels and resorts will need to charge a premium, however, reflecting the higher cost of original emplacement, continual resupply, as well as rendezvous fuel for those coming and going.

Meanwhile, a portion of such a lunar gravity facility or similar separate facilities (perhaps more affordably situated in more equatorial orbits) that cater to Terrestrials, might be faithfully furnished Lunan style to enhance the let's-pretend Lunar visit experience. This resort option would be popular for terrestrials wanting a taste of what it feels like to be on the Moon, because they are considering such a trip or even emigration to the frontier.

Most Lunans would welcome such premiums - few if any Lunans would settle for the cargo class equatorial orbitels (geared to those who come mainly for the zero-G). Why pay so much and come all the way, and then let the fizz out of the view bottle?

Orbital closeups, after all, will come to be recognized as a legitimate way of visiting planets with extreme environments. We would surely balk at calling Earth's environment extreme. But someone on the Moon for many years, and surely those born there, will see it quite differently. Besides, even if, with the help of exoskeletal assists, they could manage the gravity, how could they handle being out in the open under that miles' high sky, without utter catatonic agoraphobia? Oh, horrors! <MMM>

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