They claim that the technology is there but not the money to do it.
Washington Post – Newt has said that he’d use 10 percent of the NASA budget — which would amount to nearly $2 billion a year — to create prizes, incentives for entrepreneurs to achieve spaceflight milestones.
Gingrich said his program would be “90 percent private sector” and he’d like to see space flight become so common that there would be “six or seven launches a day.” He added: “I’d like to have an American on the moon before the Chinese get there.”
Inflatable moon bases proposed by Bigelow Aerospace
Gingrich went so far as to bring up a proposal he made when he was a young congressman to create a “Northwest Ordinance” for space in which, as soon as 13,000 Americans lived on the moon, they could petition to become a state.
I believe a carefully crafted series of prizes can work.
There are already Google lunar prizes.
The $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE is igniting a new era of lunar exploration by offering the largest international incentive prize of all time. A total of $30 million in prizes are available to the first privately funded teams to safely land a robot on the surface of the Moon and have that robot travel 500 meters over the lunar surface and send images and data back to the Earth. Since its launch, NASA has also offered a complementary $30 million in contracts to those who successfully land on the lunar surface and meet certain scientific objectives. The teams have until the end of 2015 to get to the Moon, meet the prize objectives, and win the prize purses.
Prizes that follow up
Have a $60 million prize for a robotic lunar base by 2017.
$300 milion prize for more elaborate robotic lunar base by 2018.
$200 million prize for robotic and/or teleoperated base in earth orbit by 2015.
$500 million prize for manned inflatable base at earth orbit by 2016.
$1 billion prize for manned inflatable base at a lagrange point by 2018.
$2 billion prize for manned base on the moon by 2019 (not permanent but weeks at a time.)
$10 billion prize for the permanent manned base by 2020.
Have a lot more sub-prizes for other goals.
Bigelow Aerospace has discussed proposals for private moon bases. A quick-deploy moon base capable of housing up to 18 astronauts in inflatable modules on the lunar surface.
The moon harbors large amounts of water ice, along with lots of other potentially useful compounds. Shackleton — a 12-mile-wide (20-kilometer-wide) crater appears to have lots of water ice.
Lunar space elevator using 6 cubic meters of Zylon
the Moon’s gravity is only one sixth that of Earth, it drastically reduces the requirements of the ribbon. A material that is available now, a synthetic polymer material called Zylon (poly(p-phenylene-2,6-benzobisoxazole) which has high strength and excellent thermal stability, could be used.
* The biggest hurdle could be getting access to the 6 cubic meters of the Zylon material.
* A lunar elevator would use a ribbon at least 50,000 kilometers (31,000 miles) long extending through the Earth-Moon L1 LaGrange point from an anchor point near the center of the visible part of Earth’s moon.
* This is a very small system, capable of transporting 200-250 kilos
* Once the initial ribbon is up and running, Laine said you could send up more ribbon to strengthen it
Setting up an inflatable space station at Lagrange points for teleoperated support
Any permanent space presence needs redundancy, support and quick access to robust help. By having space stations in low earth orbit, geosync, lagrange points and on the moon, then you would have easy ability to provide robust teleoperated assistance. Having multiple bases on the moon and having some robot operated would provide fallback positions in case one base is compromised. You can send crews from station to station as well with very small rockets.
• Latencies less than 6 times from Earth, 400 ms -so cognitive operations
• Continuous access to the near-or far-‐side (except poles …)
• Communication LOS with Earth is stable and reliable
• Little orbit maintenance needed – of order tens of m/s/yr
• Control options for multiple surface sites
• Avoid putting humans in deep gravity wells in near term
People can still go the lunar surface.