ASI W9900393r1.1

Moon Miners' Manifesto

#110 November 1997

Section the Artemis Data Book

Roots of Civil Authority on the Moon

From government science outpost and/or company town to civilian settlement: a "Trial Balloon Scenario".

[Your constructive comments welcome.]

by Peter Kokh
Three "return to the Moon" scenarios have some degree of plausibility: The planners behind each of these prospective efforts will likely have there own short list of favored surface locations. Yet it would not be surprising that for the benefit of shared logistics, efforts getting to first launch date second or third, may scrap such plans and decide to site their operations nearby, if not contiguous to whichever outpost effort succeeds first in becoming a functioning reality. My presupposition here is that it might make economic sense to share a site and with it, any logistical advantages. Consider these points: This is not dissimilar to auto dealerships grouping together to share traffic that increases because of customers' heightened expectations of finding suitable buys in one general location. For the same reason, tourist attractions do much more business when grouped together than when situated in mutual isolation

One might suppose that we'll be darn lucky to see just one of these developments, that setting up operations on the Moon is just too expensive. But that depends on who does what first. A trailblazing multigovernmental science outpost could indeed be preemptively expensive. But a government effort that used infrastructure and hardware pioneered by a commercial and/or industrial effort might achieve the same goals, and more, at a fraction of the cost.

The drivers for each type of effort are quite different. As to siting, an industrial base slaved to a Criswell type lunar solar power array project, will enjoy the least leeway, and is likely to be part of a contiguous operation only if it is first to set up shop. There are, to be sure, other industrial outpost scenarios that would be much more flexible as to site (Helium-3 mining, Oxygen production, Glass composites production, metal alloy production etc.)

What about a lunar south polar ice-harvesting operation? That's a hard one*. Either pole is a poor place for an industrial setup (the water produced there will be far less in weight ratio to all the other elements needed for manufacturing, which are best produced elsewhere, e.g. on highland/mare "coasts". It will be cheaper to ship water than all the ore.) If such a polar outpost is first, then it almost certainly will lead to a larger, however dependent, operation away from the poles.

* [MMM # 104 APR '97, pp. 6-7 "Ice Logistics: Getting lunar polar water ice to thirsty industrial settlements and bases elsewhere on the Moon"]
This in mind, let's return to our question.

How do we make the leap from government science outpost and/or industrial company town and/or a for-profit commercial base to a civilian-run settlement? What are the possible origins and roots of citizenship and civilian authority on the Moon?

For until we have that, be it on the Moon or elsewhere, we are simply deceiving ourselves and settling for far less than our vision if we think either of these startup beachheads by itself qualifies as a "Community beyond Earth" in any but caricature terms. I propose that not any set population size but rather the mix of diverse types of early lunar startup operations will form the "critical mass'" to give birth to a truly "civilian" authority. Consider these new expansion functions that the charter parties might want to turnover to a "host" authority:

This role, this vocation, these tasks cut out for it, the city will stimulate the appearance of new business tied to expansion: manufacturers of building and utility components, and furnishings (all of which can also be exported at a cost advantage over Earth-made products to other in-space locations), construction contractors, biosphere system component manufactures, and so on. The city will be on the road to major diversification of the work force, and the economic base will steadily grow more viable.

Such expansion can occur by budding, i.e. the creation of subsidiaries of an original mining-manufacturing-processing company; or by joint ventures in which fresh capital and resources are contributed by terrestrial companies previously not doing business on the Moon; or wholly by bringing in such new companies. And as the local population grows and the population (even transient tourist concentrations) of other in space markets grow, commercial enterprises will bloom as well. But let's get back to beginnings.

Let us now assume that all charter parties have this problem in common. Personnel are on the Moon for limited tours of duty. Because it saves a pair of man-trips Earth-Moon and vice versa to have an on site staff or crew person or worker to "re-up" and reenlist four another (an extended) tour, we can assume that in each outpost effort, there will be a number of men and women who choose to stay on, the percentage growing as more and more perks and amenities come on line, i.e. as the infant would-be community becomes ever more "homelike", as individuals acclimatize themselves ever more easily and comfortably.

Now this leap of faith, if you'll humor me. It is likely that some percentage of employees or crew of each charter outfit have some talents and qualifications in common. Why not a joint agreement between the parties that after two terms or two years of continuous service on the Moon, an individual has the right to choose "free agency" and sell his services to the highest bidder, or to the bidder who offers the most attractive individually tailored package? Return fare to Earth would be held in escrow for all, and it could be agreed that this was portable. This free agency program could work to create greater morale overall, long term, and thus be in each party's interest. A court or adjucator on the staff of the new all-conjoining "Reclamation Authority" could see to it that the free agency provision or agreement ran smoothly and fairly.

Next Leap of Faith: Free Agents could be considered citizens of the new conjoined community who are subcontracting themselves out to their new employers. We now have an incipient and forever growing population who are properly speaking lunar citizens, or citizens of the new conjoined community rather than simple company or agency employees whose rights are at the whim of their contract holders.

From this it is a small step to a civil law or constitutional "right" that such free agents are free to socialize, enter relationships, marry, start families, etc., rights that their original contract holders would never countenance, not for a moment! Whether or not they individually choose to stay on for the rest of their lives or for only a few years, we'll have the first real lunar civilians, the first real citizens.

Prior to this time, the various authorities will be conservative, not willing to permit anything such as a pregnancy brought to term on the Moon that might demand a commitment to an indefinite human presence. "We don't know if it is safe" will be the inane mantra &emdash; inane because, as we have pointed out before*, "until we're sure that the 2nd native generation is healthy and fertile, we won't know!" It is a knowledge that can only be had by taking the plunge, with all the risk and courage and faith that this implies. The 1991 made-for-TV (ABC) David Lee Zlatoff film "Plymouth" was right on the mark.

*[MMM # 47 JUL '91, pp. 5-6 "Native Born"]

[MMM # 52 FEB '92 pp. 3-5 "Xititech"]

As opposed to the contract employees of the various industrial, commercial, and science outpost partners, the emergent constituency of free agents now for the first time, and alone, have a natural interest in the long term continuity and continued growth of the new born settlement. It is in their interest to see develop a full range of life-interest opportunities including careers and personal relationship options: free and open fraternization, marriage, the right to bring children into the community, and eventually, the right to retire, die, and be buried there. Such free agents stand to be the first seed of a non-transient population, even though most of them may themselves individually "choose" to return "home" to Earth sooner or later. So long as that is a "choice", presupposing the alternative "choice" to remain for the rest of their lives, we will have successfully made the magic jump from outpost to real settlement, akin in its momentousness to the magic jump from early biochemical activity to true reproduction - and life. It will be the free agents who force a "sea change" expansion of the city's "agenda".

Of course, to allow all this to happen, the city must provide some key services: hospital with maternity facilities, schooling, programs to extend the productivity of seniors. This would seem to require, following universal Earth-side practice, the employment of a lot of people not directly involved in bottom line productivity: the manufacturing of exports with which to pay for necessary imports.

Not so! Schooling can be provided by Earth-side teachers, interacting with their lunar charges via the TV monitor, even with the 2.5 second delay. Or by interactive video programs and a minimum of on site human tutors. As they grow older, the kids can take over many of the housekeeping chores of the settlement, releasing adult manpower for production.

Health care can be proactive, and with continuing adult education being the norm, the artificial retirement ages we worship in the West can be dispensed with. As people reach an age where they need to work less hours, they can take over various administrative, educational, and service tasks. And before this manpower pool comes on line, many administrative duties and chores can be "farmed out" electronically to less expensive Earthside personnel.

Upshot: developing a growing fraction of non working age adults need not be suicidal for the community.

Now the "City" that results will begin with two classes of members: corporate or government, and individual citizens. Which suggest some sort of bicameral legislature. If this brings back memories of World War II era fascist corporate states such as Portugal, so be it. There is no relationship, and no reason why the new all-subsuming Lunar City cannot be a true and genuine democracy.

A corollary of all this is that the emergent Lunar City must have a certain real autonomy of home rule, responsible to all its charter partners and individual citizens, but beholden to neither.

Some form of United Nations joint-trusteeship (say of the various nations from which the charter partners are supported) would be in order. The U.N. Trusteeship Council might negotiate with the City terms and milestones according to which this incipient autonomy and home rule is gradually increased and expanded in scope until some distant day when the lunar population is truly self-supporting (able to pay for whatever it imports out of the profits from its exports; with ample reserves; with a full suite of institutions {medical, educational, etc.} to serve its citizens needs; and with prospects for expanded trade and growth in the future). At such a time, then with a population of many tens or hundreds of thousands, the Lunar Community or federation of lunar communities might take its place as an equal among the nations of men.

An ambitious dream, but one that can start humbly with a few well-chosen steps and the right mix of contributors. It is for sure that a multi-government science outpost by itself is poorly set to make such a profound transition. And we could say the same of any "One Company Town". A Commercial Base, however, might someday make the magic metamorphosis on its own. But the best and surest bet is a conjoint effort by several diverse partners, giving rise to an overarching reclamation-biosphere-expansion authority subsuming them as charter partners.

[We've labeled this a trial balloon scenario, a first attempt to imagine just how the transition will be made from an initial transient beachhead, a caricature of a community, to the first real self-perpetuating community of humankind beyond the Earth's atmosphere (the National Space Society's stated goal).]

[As a trial balloon, we expect it to have omitted many key elements that have not occurred to us, along with forks in the road whose choice is up in the air, and some naive assumptions. We offer it as a point of departure for discussion only. If we have succeeded only in heading off at the pass a contraceptive wave of complacency after a first science outpost is established, we will be delighted. Even now, there are already too many in our space community ready to settle for such "wooden nickels". Reader input from brief letters to whole essays are welcome. - The Editor.]

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