Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Lunar Land Grab

How to become Royalty, pending legal disputes
  (+9, -3)
(+9, -3)
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I can't remember the name of the rocket, but back many moons ago, I found one that my sketchy calculations figured could make it to the moon with a small payload - maybe 100 lbs or so. (I think it was a LOX engine - but I can't find it now, stupid details)

I also figured how that rocket & fuel may cost about $50,000 USD. I remember the bouncing ball Mars landing, and I began to wonder about a superball type landing. I wonder what the G's would be if you came in at a low vector at high speed.

I guess that's why I'm no rocket scientist. I'm pretty sure I would need deceleration thrust and I figure you could rig something up for maybe another $25,000 USD.

Maybe another $25K to sort of rent a facility & personell to help me track & course correct, (check my maths?), etc.

Now - If I'm lucky, I've landed something, fairly light weight on good old Luna.

What I hope has landed is a receiving dish, a solar panel, and a modified and shielded remote control car with a bunch of plastic sheets.

The pre-cut plastic sheets are to be formed into open topped cubes by heating and folding elements on top of the "R/C" ROV.

Once formed, the thin plastic cube is filled with lunar dust and stacked as masonry - a thin tube scaffold w/ simple tray elevator being an accessory that the RCROV can attach to / move / and detach from (I guess this is getting a little complicated).

All movements of the RCROV are human directed. It is kind of dumb, you know, and the construction will take a VERY long time, but, hey - you go build something on the moon for a fraction of a million dollars! It's not like anyone else plans to for the next 12 years - at least.

The Geomety of the Lunar Base is going to be unusual due to the limitations. I figure a pyramid outer shell braced internally by multiple arches and the interior space won't be very large unless I could get a more complicated RCROV up there that could make arch-blocks out of the plastic.

There is also the issue of the thin plastic being exposed to the solar heat. I think rolls of reflective foil would have to be applied to the sun facing face of each block and that may mean two ROV's, but I think there is a possibility of that application being mounted on the landing envelope.

The resulting base won't be air-tight, won't have an air lock, and may, or may not reduce exposure to radiation depending upon what you read. (I'm hoping I can find more info that tells me it will reduce radiation.)

Once built, I figure one more mission could put in the air lock and seal the interior, but I was hoping to offer free rent should the US / European or Chinese missions want to do it for me. (Bring your own O2).

As I figure it, I've built a frontier home which I have yet to occupy. In fact, I've pretty much claimed a stake to some territory. I'd be the freaking King of Grimaldi, kiss my rings! I'm sure I can't afford the lawyers to make that stand, but I could possibly try.

<there have to be a ton of holes in this hair brained idea and I don't know what they all are right now, but I figure I'm about to find out.>

Judge Not? Why Not?

Zimmy, Feb 12 2008

Flag planting device Dark_20Side_20Of_20Our_20Moon
Do you have a flag? [theleopard, Feb 12 2008]

Using Lunar Soil For Concrete http://www.space-rockets.com/moon1.html
[ldischler, Feb 12 2008]

JP Aerospace http://www.jpaerospace.com/
These folks have helium orbiters complete with assembling stations and launching platforms in their future plans [quantum_flux, Feb 12 2008]

Lunar Research Institute http://www.lunar-research-institute.org/
Their goal is to create a "permanent" moon base [quantum_flux, Feb 12 2008]

Would this be high enough though? http://www.associat...sfully_reaches.html
[2 fries shy of a happy meal, Feb 14 2008]

X prize http://www.news.com...html?tag=ne.fd.mnbc
dang it! [Zimmy, Feb 22 2008]


       //I remember the bouncing ball Mars landing//   

       That was Mars; it has an atmosphere which slowed the lander down... You're basically throwing something at the Moon: if you manage to do it perfectly it will almost come to a stop 2000'ish km above the surface of the moon, then start accelerating. Of course you could aim to graze the surface then throw an anchor out ;)   

       //In fact, I've pretty much claimed a stake to some territory//

       I think the legal term is "littering": most countries homesteading laws, you have to occupy the land, personally. But if you can get there, who's going to stop you ?
FlyingToaster, Feb 12 2008

       There's been a grundle of get-rich-eventually schemes for extraterrestrial real estate, and I just figured this would be one of them. However, this one has the novelty of you "proving up" your claim by producing something on site - and further, it being something eminently useful to any future visitors. I agree there might be some holes (liability pops to mind - careful what you guarantee) but I think it would make a great X-prize type project.   

       Start out with a hole in the lunar soil. Dig it out with an earthmover, or start with explosives. Next, make bricks. Forget the plastic, though, except as forms: apparently you can microwave the regolith into a solid mass.
lurch, Feb 12 2008

       I see no reason why Cat Law shouldn't prevail on the Moon. Then all you have to do is pee on it and it's yours.
lostdog, Feb 12 2008

       If you can get anything to the moon, heck into orbit, for $50k, you are my hero and soon to be a very wealthy man. I'm pretty sure the Planetary Society gave Russia 100+K to piggyback their solar sail project into space, and it was REALLY lite and it blew up 42 seconds after launch. The cheapest way I know to get something to space is a super cannon, but the ride is rough.   

       That said, I want to say I like the rest of the idea, though I'd suggest a packed earth or ,per previous sub, microwaved earth igloo. (Is it still earth if you are not on Earth?) You obviously are not in a hurry and the igloo would not require any materials to be brought. A circular igloo should be easy enough to program a simple bot to build. Maybe support the partial construction on a interior balloon filled with gas made from soil.   

       If I'm wrong and you do know a way to get something to space for $50K, we SERIOUSLY have to talk. There is a $3M X-prize for lunar rovers...
MisterQED, Feb 12 2008

       //apparently you can microwave the regolith into a solid mass//
Regolith is just concrete powder. To build anything, just add water.
ldischler, Feb 12 2008

       //I wonder what the G's would be if you came in at a low vector at high speed.//
Unfortunately, those low vectors invariably terminate in the side of a mountain.
ldischler, Feb 12 2008

       I may have based that $50k thing on a "disposable" helium balloon launch platform, now that I think about it.
Zimmy, Feb 12 2008

       Coincidentally, I was trying to work out what it would take to get something - say a hundred grammes - into stable Earth orbit. My theory is that I could do this from my shed and my back garden. The device would just whizz around and would say "Beep" every so often, nothing else.   

       I figured that a big helium launch balloon would get you high enough that some of the scaleability issues (whereby atmospheric drag penalizes small craft disproportionately) might be ameliorated.   

       Has there ever been a "Y-prize" for getting something up there for under a thousand quid?
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 12 2008

       //If you can get anything to the moon, heck into orbit, for $50k, you are my hero//   

       kill all of the lawyers (except Johnny Cochran) and then get the Chinese to build your rocket ;)   

       .... hey wait a minute, there are no lawyers in space! That helium platform idea is brilliant! If you could assemble and launch the rocket in space, there would be no OSHA or paperwork to worry about just like as if you were to assemble your rockets in China. Also, manufactured ball bearings are a lot more spherical when they are assembled in microgravity, although you're not technicaly in microgravity when you're in a blimp. <see link>
quantum_flux, Feb 12 2008

       I think that if you could figure out a reliable way to get even tiny payloads into orbit cheaply, the world would beat a path to your door. I know I would. Let's say you could take a big weather balloon, fill it with hydrogen and lift a 50 lb. rocket to the edge of space. If that rocket could then lift a 1 lb. mass into stable LEO orbit, you could then assemble your own satelites piece by piece. All it would take is a modular design approach. It may even be better is some cases as disaster would only affect parts and not all of a project.
MisterQED, Feb 12 2008

       [quantum_flux], last night I was searching for the link you provided. That was something like I was thinking of. I think they have ideas on there about how to put very small satellites into orbit with solid fuel rockets.
Zimmy, Feb 12 2008

       I think putting a 1lb mass up there is optimistic. I'm talking about putting an ounce or two up there, maybe even less. I suspect it would be possible to build something weighing only a few grams that would be able to send out a "beep" once every so often that could be received on earth. It wouldn't have any maneuverment, but that's OK.
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 13 2008

       //I'm talking about putting an ounce or two up there, maybe even less// Even at that weight, I think you could do some really great science, maybe something like a solar sail. The problem would be transmitting power or even making batteries that small much less a tiny gyro to angle the "ship". You might be able to go really old school and communicate with a tiny mirror sending messages to the ISS with reflected solar light.
MisterQED, Feb 13 2008

       I think as a first shot I'd skip any kind of maneuverability. I'd probably go for something with a postage-stamp solar panel (tumbling would ensure it got sunlight for some of the time) and a capacitative accumulator. Then, after an hour of charging, it drives a non- directional transmitter that goes "blip" with as much power as possible.   

       I think all you want is to be able to detect this thing, even if it needs a radiotelescope to do it. I like your mirror idea, but that needs some fancy control hardware.   

       The aim would be to launch (say) 10g for £1000 in the first instance. If you could do that, then you could work on more sophisticated nanosatellites - I'm sure you could pack a lot into 10g, or at most 25g - that's about the weight of an iPod nano or so.   

       So, £1000 for 10g into orbit - possible?
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 13 2008

       It actually gets more and more expensive per pound to put lighter objects into orbit. Because you have a certain amount of overhead. You are always going to need your propulsion system which weighs more than a few ounces, and that is going to need to overcome the force of air resistance + it's own weight for the duration of the ascent which is not trivial, and then accelerate to orbital velocity. If lighter was cheaper, NASA would have just launched 10000 5 ounce rockets to assemble the ISS.
DanDaMan, Feb 13 2008

       I agree, especially about air resistance. Nevertheless, I think a little lateral thinking might find a solution. Or I may be talking bollocks. Anyway, I've posted this as a separate idea.
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 13 2008

       This is just a cut and paste from another anno I did, but it may present a relevant idea - to the direction of this discussion anyway:   

       how about using balloons to hoist a super-cannon up to >30km, where there is so little air that the friction it generates would hardly factor into the energy required for a LEO insertion?   

       sure, the cannon would have to be fairly strong, but it needn't be as sturdy as its terrestrial counterparts which are designed to survive repeated firing and various other forms of ill treatment.   

       i'm imagining a football-shaped craft, like a zeppelin, with an aluminum and carbon-fiber cannon running from back to front along the central axis. it could be inflated with hydrogen and designed to absorb much of the recoil, perhaps sustaining a destructive level of damage during a firing. it wouldn't matter, as only the chute system need survive to bring the parts back down for a rebuild.   

       just before firing, some final calculations would be made and 'bleed vents' on the cannon opened appropriately to adjust the gas pressure and hence final velocity of the projectile. the airship/balloon/cannon would tilt up/swivel to the correct angle using a small maneuvering rocket, then as the computer senses it is passing perfectly through the correct firing angle - bang. the micro-satellite is shot, literally, into orbit.
TIB, Feb 13 2008

       I like the idea of an axial launch tube. But why a cannon? Why not instead launch a small rocket from the balloon? As I figure it, either way you are using the balloon to get you clear of major air resistance. However, residual air resistance will act with the square of the projectile's velocity. Hence, you'll waste less energy using a rocket (which has lowest velocity at its lowest altitude) than with a bullet (which has its highest velocity at lowest altitude).
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 13 2008

       Be careful when you are shooting bullets into obit from your helium launching platform, it could come back around and get you.
quantum_flux, Feb 14 2008

       If cost is a factor then skip the Helium and launch from a solar balloon. link   

       $20 Million prize. (see link)   

       I don't know how big the rover has to be, but it looks like someone may try to win it as early as next year.   

       I won't have anywhere near enough in disposible income by then.   

       Stupid luck.
Zimmy, Feb 22 2008

       Well, for fundraising ideas you could do a lot worse than read the Heinlein story "the man who sold the moon", it's pretty well thought out.   

       " hey wait a minute, there are no lawyers in space! " Ok, they can go, but only if they agree to use their own air supply, helium/oxygen, would make an interesting twist to the first lunar litigation as they'd all sound like Minnie Mouse..   

       //(I guess this is getting a little complicated)//   

       That's my favorite line (like it wasn't complicated before). That should be one of the HB taglines.   

       [edited for clarity]
oxen crossing, Dec 15 2009

       what was your favorite line before ?   

       Being lazy, I favor a total lack of controlled landing capability: just shoot the thing at the Moon. On the way, a 30m ball of styrofoam is built around the vehicle, as well as 10 concentric airbags. The air/foam tanks are discarded and a 100m balloon hits the moon at... 10,000mph. The rover itself is round and the legs curl up into a totally solid, no-gap sphere.
FlyingToaster, Dec 15 2009

       and then what happens?
oxen crossing, Dec 15 2009

       It would have to hit on one side of the moon so that the impact would be less, it will stop rolling when it finds a mountain from a crater, it could have a sensor inside consisting of tied weights applying pressure in the center of the ball while moving, and when the pressure gets loose, it releases the legs out.
canoro, Dec 15 2009

       Ooh! I'd half forgotten that this was the idea that triggered the N-Prize. Thank you, Zimmy.
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 15 2009


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