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To the Moon!

Astronaut Charles Conrad stands at Modular Equipment Stowage Assembly during Apollo 12 mission, 1969

As has been widely blogged (I saw it first at Boing Boing), China is preparing to commence manned space exploration in a few years (ye gods - 2005 is just "a few years" from now) and intends to set up a permanent colony there in 2010. I'm sure they can do it, and part of me simply thinks more power to them--the United States should have done this in the first place, and could have if we hadn't been in such a hurry to win the race to land there (as many, perhaps most notably Isaac Asimov, have argued).

Last week in the Wall Street Journal, Jim Carlton wrote about the ongoing early debate over permanent lunar settlement, development, and exploitation. Various people and organizations want to use the moon for research, tourism, industry, and colonization. But what are we to do with this land that's part of no country at all? Some are proposing modelling our use of the moon on our use of Antarctica, based on the Antarctic Treaty of 1959 that regulates use of that continent (by the signers of the treaty, anyway). I can only hope that everyone's read their Kim Stanley Robinson.

Apollo 12 image from the NASA JSC Digital Image Collection

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