Recently, the European Space Agency landed a device from the Rosetta probe on a comet, achieving a new feat in the final frontier. They brought the hearts of the world together, first in anticipation over the lander’s safety, then elation when it touched down, and finally solemnity as its batteries depleted. World governments have neglected space. I say it’s time to move out again.
If we do so, what should be our first adventure? Should we attempt to take people to Mars? Send a probe out to the nearest star Alpha Centauri? Perhaps explore the benefits of asteroid mining? No. While these have their attractions, to me there is only one project for us:
A giant time vault on the Moon.
Think about it. Fort Knox + the Louvre + the Kremlin museum + the tomb of Tutankhamun + the Vatican Secret Archives all rolled into one. On the Moon. The greatest repository of human knowledge, culture, and history ever imagined. A place where secrets could be stored so that they could only be retrieved at great expense. A feat to rival any other in modern times. And it would be on the Moon.
What are we doing with the Moon? We’ve been up a few times but that’s been it. We have to be able to do more on the Moon. If nothing else, there is all the area there, unused, dormant. We can’t ignore that the Moon could be extremely useful for us. The first step is to show that we belong on the Moon by putting our indelible stamp upon it.
What sort of things should we put in the Moon Vault? Anything that we want to remember. Great works of art from all throughout time. Perhaps the bodies of important people laid in state for all time. The English philosopher Jeremy Bentham was stuffed after his death and his body has been stolen several times. Why not put it on the Moon? No one is going to steal his body from the Moon.
We could put jewelry on the Moon in case we might need it later. First editions of many ancient books that are now almost dust could be transported for storage on the Moon. We should also think about how the Moon can aid us with security. Especially with the threat of Ebola ravaging through America, the importance of being prepared for disease and disaster is apparent. If we put samples of diseases like smallpox and polio on the Moon, would could get them in case an epidemic broke out again and synthesize a vaccine. And if Russia or any other nation doesn’t want to disarm all their nukes, we would have a very safe place to put them.
These great treasures (and perhaps dangers) should have a repository fitting for their magnitude. For that purpose I nominate the Taj Mahal. It is, in my opinion, the most beautiful building on Earth. It belongs on the Moon.
How can we achieve this seemingly impossible task? That’s another beauty of this project. The installation of the Moon time vault would require the development of an entirely new industry: space construction. We would create probably hundreds of new jobs worldwide, a huge boost to the global economy. Undoubtedly, governments will not take the lead on an idea like this. It will be up to private industry to innovate, as they always do, and stimulate these bold new ventures.
This will have a ripple effect, making everyone better just by being around this great triumph. For instance, there is the obvious lure of museum tours of the vault. Taking people up would be expensive but we could create drones which would fly through the vault and stream images back to Earth. The amount of joy people would get from paying to take a tour through the Moon time vault would be immensely gratifying.
Not only that, the Moon holds a special place to all humankind. All of us look up and wonder at its beauty in the night. What if you could say to your child: “Look, up on the Moon: did you know that your grandpa is up there?”
Being buried on the Moon would be a supreme honor. I think all the greatest people of our time should be buried on the Moon. Personally, I would love to be buried on the Moon. Then drone tourists could come by my body and learn about who I was, or who any of the greats that we inter there (I don’t mean to be presumptuous in saying that I would be buried on the Moon, I’m just illustrating my point).
For some time it’s seemed that the luster has dulled from space exploration. The Rosetta mission showed that we are still willing, but the recent SpaceX disaster similarly showed we must be cautious. Brave people will be needed. What better way to find recruits than to offer them a trip — not just into space — but to the time vault on the Moon? A personal visit to this new wonder of the world. How could anyone refuse?
We’ve wondered at the potential of the Moon for too long. Perhaps we’ll inhabit it some day. For now, we shouldn’t ignore what we could have if we put our minds to it.
The Moon: Let’s put some shit on it.