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  Astrobotic MoonMail to land mementos on moon

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Author Topic:   Astrobotic MoonMail to land mementos on moon
Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 31179
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 12-11-2014 04:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
collectSPACE
MoonMail: Company launches program to land mementos on the moon

A commercial "lunar logistics" company working to send robotic landers to the moon is inviting the public to 'mail' their keepsakes and personal mementos on one-way trips to the lunar surface.

Astrobotic Technology on Thursday (Dec. 11) announced the launch of its new "MoonMail" program, which offers to send heirloom rings, family photos, locks of hair and other small personal items on the company's first private moon mission set to launch in the next few years.

With prices based on the item's size, MoonMail rates start at $460 for a half-inch wide by 0.125-inch tall (1.27 by 0.3 centimeter) capsule and increase to $25,800 for a one by two-inch (2.54 by 5.08 cm) payload.

"You can think of the pricing for it to be very similar to 'it fits, it ships' at the post office," John Thornton, Astrobotic CEO, told collectSPACE.com in a call with reporters. "It is essentially a flat-rate box."

fredtrav
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Posts: 1171
From: Birmingham AL USA
Registered: Aug 2010

posted 12-11-2014 04:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for fredtrav   Click Here to Email fredtrav     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great Moon Litter.

Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 12-11-2014 05:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Not really. As Astrobotic explains, the mementos will be held inside a canister (Moon Pod) permanently attached to the lander. The pod itself is just one payload on the lander, which will also be collecting science data under a NASA contract.

SparkR_13
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Posts: 67
From: Martinsburg, WV 25401, USA
Registered: Dec 2010

posted 12-12-2014 08:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SparkR_13   Click Here to Email SparkR_13     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Totally agree with the other person... we have not even gone back, no exploration sites and instead, they want to launch TRASH to the moon. What a waste of human thought and desire. Cargo space that could be used for experiment, investigation, used to haul up junk so someone could waste money to say... oh, I have a ring on the moon! Terrible, Terrible idea. Roundtrip, maybe, at least its coming back. But just to put it there?

Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
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posted 12-12-2014 08:43 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Astrobotic's MoonMail is a small (foot-wide) pod on their much larger Griffin lander carrying scientific instruments and likely a small robotic rover to explore a sinkhole ('skylight') leading into a subsurface lunar cave. (And that's just the first mission; a second targeted for 2019 is destined for the south pole.)

This is a commercial mission. The launch and mission costs need to be covered, so if flying a few hundred small (one to two inch) mementos can help enable science and exploration, why the objection?

Skythings
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Posts: 42
From: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Registered: Jun 2014

posted 12-12-2014 08:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Skythings   Click Here to Email Skythings     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by fredtrav:
Great Moon Litter.
Have to agree here. In my mind the litter is the lander itself.

Looking back in history of the Moon missions, how many third stage boosters and LM ascent stages are splattered on the moon's surface not by accident, but planned that way. I'm sure the human litter is not a significant damaging factor to the moon in the big picture, but where does it stop?

It's more of the attitude of man. Look at our oceans with islands of floating plastics and our low Earth orbit has become a garbage dump of space debris. Every time man sends a probe to Mars, the rocket equipt parachute drops the beach ball and then flies a few miles away and crashes and explodes contaminating the surface of Mars with Earth garbage, fuels and who knows what.

I love the science and I thinks it's pretty damn cool man has gone to these places, but is it wrong to try to do it better next time so man's footprints are less damaging to the places he explores?

quote:
Originally posted by SparkR_13:
Roundtrip, maybe, at least its coming back. But just to put it there?
Great idea — bring the stuff back. Most of us would pay big bucks to have our small item sitting in our display cases.

Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 31179
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 12-12-2014 09:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I guess it's true what they say, "One man's trash is another man's treasure."

This week, a small copper box with mementos from Paul Revere and Sam Adams was unearthed in Boston. The time capsule dates back to 1795. I tend to think of Astrobotic's MoonMail as a future version of the same thing.

quote:
Originally posted by Skythings:
Great idea — bring the stuff back.
I agree, bringing the mementos back to Earth would be a great idea, too. The costs involved in doing that though is exponentially larger. Participating in a time capsule won't appeal to everyone but according to Astrobotic, MoonMail arose from the requests they were already receiving to send small items on the one-way trip to the moon.

Skythings
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Posts: 42
From: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Registered: Jun 2014

posted 12-12-2014 10:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Skythings   Click Here to Email Skythings     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Respectfully I think this is very different. The idea of a time capsule placed in the cornerstone of a building on Earth is historical, educational, wonderful and exciting. That capsule was placed in a spot where it was not affecting anything in a negative manner with the intention to be opened someday in the future.

Leaving this probe on the moon is also historical, educational, wonderful and exiting no question. But in my mind it's like the early explorers who trekked across North America leaving their junk and garbage in the rivers, cutting trees down just to get a better view, accidentally setting forest fires, spreading diseases and bad habits to the native indians. They would never have been able to discover what they did any other way at the time just like recent space exploration. Their intentions were honourable but would not be tolerated today.

In my mind, humans are guests when we visit space or any other terrestrial object. If I came to visit your home and left my rusting dilapidated leaking burned out old rundown 1971 Ford Pinto on your lawn with no intention of every picking it up, is an act of arrogance and disrespect to your neighbourhood.

We are able to use our human resourcefulness to develop styrofoam cups and plastic plates which breakdown in our landfills. Perhaps our space junk could be developed in the future to dissolve in space over time as a sign of respect.

I guess you could call me a space environmentalist. Let's explore but with humility and humbleness and respect to what is out there. I think it would be a sad day to one day discover life only to learn our probe killed it.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 31179
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 12-12-2014 10:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The moon is a dead world. There is no life to be found on it, other than what we place there. There is absolutely no danger of a lunar probe killing indigenous life of any type, so that concern is moot.

Beyond that though, if you want to study the moon, you need to land equipment there. The comparison to biodegradable cups and plates doesn't take into consideration how robust the probes need to be just to function on the surface of the moon. The environment is harsh, with radiation and extreme temperature swings. It doesn't lend itself well to materials that are designed to break down.

Maybe someday future explorers will decide to round up the spent equipment and place them into a moon museum, or return them to Earth. But for now, the leading concern should be enabling that to happen, rather then creating more blockades for an already difficult endeavor.

Astrobotic's MoonMail is intended to be found and opened by those future explorers, just as the small stash of mementos found in Boston. The Moon Pod will reside in a corner of the Griffin lander, just as the cornerstone of a building, laying wait for its rediscovery years later.

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