Recent Meeting and Space Travel

Crosby_M (
Wed, 2 Apr 1997 11:12:25 -0500

Last Thursday some of us in Washington, DC, attended a National
Geographic lecture by astronaut Shannon Lucid about her 6-month stay
aboard the Russian space station Mir.

Some highlights of the lecture and discussion were (1) the biggest
problem for space travel seems to be radiation exposure, (2) work on the
new international space station is being hindered by economic
transformations in Russia, (3) Mir is past its expected lifetime now and
the cosmonauts spend almost 90% of their time on maintenance.

Afterwards we met, appropriately, at the Luna Cafe. Also appropriate,
Kathryn shared some ideas about transhuman survival in alien
environments from a story she is writing.

Anyway, in light of the above, a few snippets from a story called "A
Killer Commute, Nasty Gamma Rays, But What a View!" by Robert Steiner in
today's Wall Street Journal might be entertaining:

The subtitle is "Japanese Builders Plan Condos on the Moon; Is it Lunacy
or Foresight".

"Three of the biggest construction firms [in Japan] have spent an
estimated $40 million on moon projects over the past decade. Shimizu
alone will spend $3 million this year....

Nishimatsu Construction Corp., which builds dams and tunnels on Earth,
plans to build Escargot City on the moon. It's a high-rise resort
development with three 10-story towers that each look like a cross
between a snail and a beehive.

Kazuo Kurihara, a senior Nishimatsu researcher, shows off a scale model.
Each floor is an inflated ring, designed to repel pesky asteroids; the
centerpiece is Hotel Nishimatsu with its conference halls and flashing
neon sign. Dr. Kurihara says his lab is working on a secret
antiradiation wall material that will protect guests from the moon's
killer gamma rays....

Japanese companies have dozens of engineers working on lunar
construction projects. By comparison, the U.S. National Aeronautics and
Space Administration has 'somewhere between zero and two,' says Wendell
Mendell, a planetary scientist at NASA's Johnson Space center in
Houston, 'depending on the day you visit.'"

Mark Crosby

P.S. I got tied up all weekend, how did the DC meeting on Sunday go?