Invasion Base on the Moon (Apr, 1948)

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Invasion Base on the Moon

“The first nation to establish a lunar military outpost will rule the earth” says Willy Ley, expert in rocket research.

THE man in the moon may plot the attack that will open World War III. For the man in the moon will be a powerful “spy in the sky” rocketed to the earth’s satellite by the aggressor nation to prepare the way for an all-out assault to conquer the world.

Soon after a 20th-century Columbus pilots his rocket to the moon, the nation that sent him there will have a lunar base that will expose any spot on earth to celestial spying and sudden rocket invasion.

The moon’s terrain, scarred with countless craters, has thousands of excellent sites for offensive bases. The aggressor who sets up the first interplanetary outpost on the moon can dominate not only the world but the entire solar system.

As the moon-bound rocket zooms out of the world, the space explorer will see that the earth has become a great display window for him. In a single historic flight he will have eliminated from the vocabulary of the world’s nations the term “military security.”

From the barren lunar wasteland or towering volcano to which he anchors his rocket he will focus high-powered telescopic lenses on the earth. These lenses will be 5 times more powerful on the moon than on earth, since the moon has no atmosphere to limit magnification. Thus, he will be able to observe, at one time, great factories operating in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York. As the earth rotates on its axis, he will see similar activity in London, in Moscow and in Tokyo. The new man in the moon will be able to watch as each nation works on its railroads, ports or factories—or stockpiles of atom bombs for war.

The pioneers who plan to build a base on the moon won’t find their task too tough, even on the basis of what we know today about conditions there.

Like the earth, the moon has a day and night. One complete night-and-day cycle on the moon, however, lasts a month. Fourteen earth days of cold night anywhere on the moon follow a similar period of intense heat when that same part of the moon’s surface is exposed to the sun. During a “moon day,” the great satellite’s surface is heated to a temperature of 392 degrees. “Moon nights” will approach absolute zero in coldness.

As a result of these extremes of temperature, the moon pioneers will find its surface covered with rock debris, chips and dust, since no rock can stand such sudden heat changes without cracking. And since there is no air on the moon, the moon men will find no surface water.

The base builders, then, will face a double problem of maintaining an even temperature and providing themselves with air and water.

By going underground they will solve the temperature problem, since the extremes of temperature occasioned by the month-long lunar cycle are strictly surface phenomena. The first expedition to the moon will look for a large, deep cave, because the temperature below the surface debris, although probably cold, will be even. If the moon men find no natural cave, they can make an artificial one by tunneling about 500 feet into a mountain.

Before the earthmen can solve any problems on the moon, however, they will have to set up an atomic pile; this will be the key to their permanency on the moon. The atomic pile will produce the heat, and this, in turn, will produce the steam which will run any construction equipment needed. And eventually the pile will produce the air and the water by which the moon pioneers will live.

While the moon men build their atomic engines, they will live on the rocket ship that brought them to the moon, and use a supply of air and water from the earth. Space suits, with airtight joints. Plexiglas head bubbles and built-in heating units will enable them to work away from their ship on the lunar terrain.

The cave shelter will be sealed off by an airlock, a set of two airtight doors with a space between them. In this way, only the air in the space between the two doors will be lost each time someone enters or leaves.

Additional fresh air will be made right on the moon. Since oxygen atoms are locked in most rock compounds, decomposing the rock will liberate breathable oxygen. Hydrogen— needed to combine with oxygen to form water—also is hidden in many minerals. These elements can be liberated from their rocky prisons by energy from the atomic pile, which produces this energy continuously by transforming heavy atoms into lighter atoms. With this unlimited atomic energy, many of the necessities of life can be extracted from the rocks forming the mountains of the moon.

With the cave supplied with air and water, the moon men will draw further on their atomic pile for heat and light, by steam and steam turbine, and electric generator.

The lamps which light the cave will be Vitamin-D-producing sun lamps capable of supporting plant life. Since the crushed rock of the moon’s surface will be useless as soil, hydroponic gardens will produce tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce and other vegetables. The breath of the men in the cave will supply the carbon dioxide necessary for these plants. The plants, in turn, will give off oxygen.

A moon crater will make a natural base for invasion rockets. The high, circular rim of the crater will act as a bunker against external bomb blasts, and the upthrust of the lava rock in the center will provide an elevated platform for a control dome.

Almost impossible to spot among the maze of surrounding pits, the crater is easy to guard against ground invasion and can be destroyed only by a direct atom-bomb hit—a practically impossible feat from our atmosphere-blinded earth.

The rocket-base construction will be comparatively simple. It will only be necessary to build a ring of concrete launching pits and connecting service roads, easily laid on the level pumice that fills the crater.

Thus, an atomic pile and a few simple elements are all that will be required for an invasion base on the moon, once the interplanetary explorer “stakes” the earth’s satellite for his country. When this happens, the moon may lose its “June-spoon” romance.

Then it will set the scene for world-shattering war, unless earthmen meanwhile find peaceful means of settling their disputes. •

  1. LightningRose says: February 23, 20118:53 am

    I took a deep breath. “Execute Operation Hard Rock.”

    “Want to give the order yourself? Say it aloud and I’ll match it, voice and choice of words.”

    “Go ahead, say it your way. Use my voice and my authority as Minister of Defense and acting head of government. Do it, Mike, throw rocks at ‘em! Damn it, big rocks! Hit ‘em hard!”

    “Righto, Man!”

    “A maximum of instructive shrecklichkeit with minimum loss of life. None, if possible”—was how Prof summed up doctrine for Operation Hard Rock and was way Mike and I carried it out. Idea was to hit earthworms so hard would convince them—while hitting so gently as not to hurt. Sounds impossible, but wait.

    Would necessarily be a delay while rocks fell from Luna to Terra; could be as little as around ten hours to as long as we dared to make it. Departure speed from a catapult is highly critical and a variation on order of one percent could double or halve trajectory time, Luna to Terra. This Mike could do with extreme accuracy—was equally at home with a slow ball, many sorts of curves, or burn it right over plate—and I wish he had pitched for Yankees. But no matter how he threw them, final velocity at Terra would be close to Terra’s escape speed, near enough eleven kilometers per second as to make no difference. That terrible speed results from gravity well shaped by Terra’s mass, eighty times that of Luna, and made no real difference whether Mike pushed a missile gently over well curb or flipped it briskly. Was not muscle that counted but great depth of that well.

    So Mike could program rock-throwing to suit time needed for propaganda. He and Prof had settled on three days plus not more than one apparent rotation of Terra–24hrs-50min-28.32sec—to allow our first target to reach initial point of program. You see, while Mike was capable of hooking a missile around Terra and hitting a target on its far side, he could be much more accurate if he could see his target, follow it down by radar during last minutes and nudge it a little for pinpoint accuracy.

    We needed this extreme accuracy to achieve maximum frightfulness with minimum-to-zero killing. Call our shots, tell them exactly where they would be hit and at what second—and give them three days to get off that spot. So our first message to Terra, at 0200 13 Oct 76 seven hours after they invaded, not only announced destruction of their task force, and denounced invasion for brutality, but also promised retaliation bombing, named times and places, and gave each nation a deadline by which to denounce F.N.’s action, recognize us, and thereby avoid being bombed. Each deadline was twenty-four hours before local “strike”.

    Was more time than Mike needed. That long before impact a rock for a target would be in space a long way out, its guidance thrustors still unused and plenty of elbow room. With considerably less than a full day’s warning Mike could miss Terra entirely—kick that rock sideways and make it fall around Terra in a permanent orbit. But with even an hour’s warning he could usually abort into an ocean.

    First target was North American Directorate.

    “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress”, by Robert A. Heinlein, 1966

  2. Hirudinea says: February 23, 201110:48 am

    People today are so much more advanced in their thinking, they realize that it takes much less effort to nuke people with ICBMs than missiles from lunar bases.

  3. Joseph says: February 23, 201112:33 pm

    It’s true the first country to really occupy space be it in permanent orbit or on the moon will have a lot of control over the rest of us. That’s why I think we should keep creating International space stations that are all access. Unless until progressive in aeroscience is distributed more equally. Then it should be every country for itself.

  4. jayessell says: February 23, 20114:13 pm

    Missile base on the moon?
    There’s this… and it’s probably cheaper:…

  5. jayessell says: February 24, 201111:51 am

    Were there OTHER ‘Space-Cadet’-like SF stories about a world government
    (or at least multinational) that had nukes in orbit ready to drop on troublemakers?

    In one story, the Dad says they wouldn’t nuke the USA as Americans constituted
    most of the spaceforce.
    The kid said something to the effect that the USA shouldn’t test that theory.



    That story about a cadet who locks himself in the armoury when the Spaceforce commander
    elects himself ruler of the Earth?

    The cadet sabotages all the warheads giving Earth time to relieve the commander of
    his command.

    Of course, disassembling warheads without the proper equipment gives him a
    lethal radiation dose. He receives a hero’s funeral.


  6. Tim says: February 24, 20115:44 pm

    I’m glad they labeled Earth in that picture. I was kinda wondering what that big thing was in the upper-right corner.

  7. Stephen says: February 25, 20119:01 am

    jayessell – The second story you mention is “The Long Watch”, by Heinlein. The first I don’t recognise. The “hero’s funeral” involves the hero being in a lead coffin carried by a robot spacecraft because nobody can get near him without a fatal dose of radiation.

  8. jayessell says: February 25, 20113:40 pm

    Thanks Stephen…

    The first story is…. SPACE CADET…. by Heinlien.

    Here’s a review excerpt:

    The young, starry-eyed Matt feels that he should be able, if the need arises, to emulate Rivera and destroy his own Iowa hometown with his family and friends in it. But his father tells him such a “need” would never arise, since the Patrol’s cosmopolitan allegiance is little more than a sham and in fact it is controlled by the United States and serves its interests. Later, Matt’s mentor in the Patrol makes him consider that the Patrol acts within political realites that make his father’s statement correct in practice. However in doing so, the mentor uses this scenario to force Matt to confront the personal and political issues involved in the institutional control of atomic weapons in a more mature way.

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