NASA has free photo downloads

Astronaut on the moon

NASA has made its supercool database of pictures and other types of media available to the public with some limitations. I think near earth/lunar space operations can be made highly financially profitable within our lifetime. We have barely scratched the surface of what is possible with our current level of technology. The United States needs to lead this activity in a massive way by getting private enterprise involved.

The primary purpose of NASA should be encouraging capitalism by private companies in space. NASA should facilitate mining of the lunar surface and asteroids for the purpose of constructing massive and numerous space based solar power generation plants which can transmit their power to earth 24/7 without interference from the weather in an environmentally friendly manner. The United States Department of Energy has articles available online about this idea and Wikipedia also has links to many other articles related to space based solar power.

Any country that establishes a large scale mining colony on the moon could easily obtain a significant military advantage over other countries that may make atomic weapons militarily obsolete. An electromagnetic mass driver based on the moon could be used to launch compacted lunar material of various sizes to be used as impact weapons against targets on earth and there would be no practical defense. A mass driver would be needed for mining operations and it could do double duty as a military launch device. It takes less energy to launch payloads from the moon than from earth which would make railgun type electromagnetic mass drivers theoretically feasible. The United States Navy currently has railguns on its ships which operate like a future mass driver would.

A commercial mass driver for launching lunar material into space would always have the potential of being used as a weapon of mass destruction even if it was never used for that purpose. Smaller lunar railguns could be used for smaller or mobile targets. Lunar railguns/mass drivers could also be used to launch payloads capable of diverting natural asteroids that threaten to impact the earth. In my opinion a scenario of this type is almost inevitable in the long run if humans colonize space. Treaties which prohibit weapons in space can’t be enforced if a large industrial complex is present on the lunar surface.

Military activity in space is not desirable but I suspect it is on the minds of the military for all nations considering using space for commercial purposes. Space is not a magical fairyland of unicorns and rainbows that prevents all conflict between nations. Human realities will eventually creep into large space operations and this could result in violent international actions.

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