Bacon’s Rebellion was lucky enough to snag an interview with “Dust Mites” author Jim Bacon. As he is the blog contributor most familiar with the book, Bacon interviewed himself. — JAB
JAB: Thank you so much for granting this interview, Mr. Bacon. First, let’s dispense with formalities. Do you go by James?
JAB: Jim would be fine.
JAB: Your novel is set in the year 2075 when there are numerous American colonies on the Moon. The colonies — one in particular, Galileo Station — is chafing under the imperial rule of an out-of-touch Congress and imperial presidency in Washington, D.C. Do you think that’s a plausible scenario?
JAB: I picked the year 2075, only 53 years from now, for literary reasons. I was deliberately playing on the parallels with the American Revolution. The incident that precipitates the action in the novel — the dispatch of the U.S. Marshal’s Special Operations Group into the underground city of Galileo Station to arrest its governor to stand trial — plays a role analogous to the events at Lexington and Concord in sparking a rebellion.
While the date may be arbitrary, let me advance a few propositions: (1) human exploration of the Moon will be commonplace by the end of the decade; (2) colonization of the Moon for scientific, military and economic imperatives will soon follow; and (3) tensions inevitably will arise between the U.S. colonies and the imperial power. It is not implausible to think that the central government in Washington, D.C., will continue to accumulate power over the next half century and become more assertive and more authoritarian than ever. more “An Exclusive Interview with the Author of “Dust Mites””
Resource scarcity on the Moon could lead to overcrowding, resource depletion and international tension, warns an international team of scientists in a paper published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A.
“A lot of people think of space as a place of peace and harmony between nations. The problem is there’s no law to regulate who gets to use the resources, and there are a significant number of space agencies and others in the private sector that aim to land on the moon within the next five years,” says Martin Elvis, astronomer at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian and the lead author on the paper.
“We looked at all the maps of the Moon we could find and found that not very many places had resources of interest, and those that did were very small. That creates a lot of room for conflict over certain resources.”
Water will be needed for survival on the Moon. Iron will be required to build anything. The Helium-3 isotope will be the fuel for nuclear fusion. Even solar power is subject to scarcity; only a few spots at the lunar poles are exposed to 24-hour-per-day sunlight. The resources are spread unevenly across the satellite.
“The biggest problem is that everyone is targeting the same sites and resources: states, private companies, everyone. But they are limited sites and resources,” says Tony Milligan, a co-author and senior researcher with the Cosmological Visionaries project at King’s College London. “We don’t have a second moon to move on to. This is all we have to work with.” more “Resource Scarcity on Moon Could Spur Conflict”
Officials within the U.S. military increasingly regard Earth-Moon space as the “high ground” in military power.
A July 2020 report based on a virtual workshop involving more than 150 thought leaders from industry, government and academia, “State of the Space Industrial Base 2020,” identifies a need to control critical “choke points” in cislunar space.
By 2060 space will be a “significant engine of national political, economic, and military power” and the United States must commit to having “a military force structure that can defend this international space order and defend US space interests, to include US space settlements and commerce.”
Lunar-derived resources — especially hydrogen and oxygen — are key to access asteroid resources and Mars. “Today’s race to the moon has little to do with flags and footprints. Strategically, it is a race to the great wealth of lunar resources which will fuel the greater space economy and enable future exploration and settlement in the solar system.”
At present the U.S is the civil, commercial and national-security leader in space. The U.S. is the first nation to demonstrate commercial orbital delivery, commercial heavy lift, commercial first-stage reusability, deployment of space-based mega-constellations for overhead sensing and internet broadband. The U.S. military maintains the most capable military constellation including the unique X-37B spaceplane.
John B. Sheldon has coined the term “lunapolitics” to describe the extension of geopolitics, or the competition between national powers, into cislunar space. The U.S., China and other powers aspire to establishing a permanent human presence on the Moon to exploit lunar resources for economic benefit. Lunapolitics, he writes, will keep diplomats, executives, and strategists busy for decades to come.
In a SpaceNews.com op-ed, Sheldon offers 10 principles to to consider as Earth leaders create the political and economic framework for mankind’s future on the Moon.
Political and economic competition for the Moon is a positive. But competition needs rules of the road undergirded by widely accepted space law. “The alternative risks a zero-sum, overtly militarized scramble for the Moon that benefits no one over the long term. lunapolitics is essentially the management of this competition.”
Currently, the United States is the prime mover of lunapolitics. America is the only space power today capable of mustering the technology, financial resources and diplomatic will to establish the foundation for a lunapolitical framework. But it will be isolated if it disregards the interests of China, Russia, Europe, and other space-faring powers.
Lunapolitical power is predicated on geopolitical power. The conditions favoring countries to become space powers include space launch facilities that provide routine access to cislunar space, an educated workforce, a vibrant and developed business climate, and an advanced industrial/technological base. The United States and China likely will be the leading lunapolitical powers.
Lunapolitics have an economic dimension. A lunaeconomic agenda will require a deep understanding of the evolving political economy and business dynamics on the Moon. Narrow business interests should not dictate the strategic interests of lunar powers.
Freedom of passage is a core principle for a lunar economy. A lunapolitical architecture should ensure freedom of passage and navigation between the Earth and the Moon for any country or company capable of doing so.
Protect the lunar environment. Humanity’s poor environmental legacy on Earth should not be replicated on the Moon, the Solar System, or beyond.
Lunapolitical alliances will constantly evolve. Lunapolitical alliances will be transient, shifting with political and economic interests. A durable lunapolitical architecture should be able to withstand shifting interests and alliances.
Avoid excessive militarization of space. A lunapolitical architecture should advance a predominantly civil and economic agenda. Overt militarization by any country will undermine legitimacy and provoke adverse international reaction. The proper role of the military should be to ensure freedom of passage and navigation, search and rescue, and enforcing internationally accepted standards of conduct.
Lunapolitics is normal; lunapolitik is not. Unbounded, rapacious, zero-sum and overtly militarized “lunapolitik” is antithetical to other goals.
Lunapoalitics is a long game, not an election-cycle issue. Lunapolitics requires long-term, strategic thinking based on prudence and enlightened self-interest.
“The future is shapeable,” concludes Sheldon, “and it is our collective choice whether lunapolitics opens up new economic opportunities and scientific possibilities, or whether our future in space ends before it could even begin.”
Robert Bigelow, a Los Angeles real estate baron turned space entrepreneur, understands the stakes involved with lunar colonization. It’s not just about exploration and scientific discovery. It’s not just about development of new power sources. It’s about geopolitical supremacy. If we don’t get a foothold on the Moon and the Chinese do, the United States is toast.
At a NASA conference today on the International Space Station, he predicted that his company’s first two space habitats would be ready for launch by 2020, reports Quartz. Bigelow expressed his hope that NASA would deploy them on the Moon.
“There’s no time to lose,” said Bigelow, CEO of Made in Space. China has lunar ambitions. If it gets there first, it will be able to impose its own rules on what is still a legal grey area. He made a similar argument in a Senate hearing earlier this year. As reported by Quartz, he said:
“China is very pre-disposed to ownership, whether its creating the islands in South China Sea, properties in massive quantities that they’ve purchased in South America or Africa, whether you open a [foreign subsidiary in China] and can only own 49% of it,” he said. “China could exercise an effort to start to lay claim to certain lunar territories. I don’t think it’s a joke, I don’t think it’s something to be cavalier about. Such an ownership consequence would have an amazing impact on the image of China vis-a-vis the United States and the rest of the world, if they should own large amounts of territory on that body, if we stood back and we were not prepared.”