Can open source guide a moon mission?

The Open Luna Foundation has a $500 million plan to build a moon station.

I’m a sucker for audacious ideas. Big, huge things with a hint of insanity. And if you put those ideas in space I get really interested. That’s why the Open Luna Foundation is right up my alley.

OSCON 2010
This nonprofit project wants to use open source technologies and private donations to build a permanent outpost on the moon. (This isn’t associated with the Google Lunar X Prize.)

The project’s mission page details a five-visit gameplan. A couple things jumped out at me:

  • They’ll claim land around the moon’s southern pole so they can eventually build a scientific outpost. This assumes they can get around extraterrestrial land issues.
  • At least one communications satellite will be placed in orbit around the moon.
  • I was struck by the group’s entrepreneurial streak. Profits from moon collectibles (rocks, I’m presuming) will help fund future missions. Naming rights, licensed merchandise, contests and documentary films are also under consideration.
  • Robots will handle early visits. Later, a single astronaut — one who doesn’t mind being alone — will set up shop in a lunar “tent” and lay the groundwork for the outpost. A handful of astronauts will visit at a later date to expand construction.
  • According to this slide deck (PDF), the manned outpost will take 5-7 years to construct and cost $500-$700 million.

The project’s website and wiki have more details.

I’m curious what others think about this project. Can an open source mindset apply to huge ideas, like establishing a moon outpost? Please weigh in through the comments.

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