sharing World building is the best component of writing,” Andy Weir tells me. The software program engineer turn writer is gaining his practice in.…By Michael Segal

World structure is the best component of writing,” Andy Weir speak me. The software application engineer rotate writer is getting his exercise in. In his 2011 novel The Martian, he constructed a Mars base, finish with very closely calculated Earth-Mars rocket schedules and chemistry-hacked potato farming. It to be made into a 2015 hit movie grossing over $600 million (“I live in a bigger residence now,” he speak me).

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We gain to see Weir’s newest production this month through the release of his new novel, Artemis. The activity is set on a lunar city in the not-too-distant future, i beg your pardon Weir calculation as lot as imagined. He approximated the price of getting to the moon from earth by assuming a future commercial launch sector that will certainly reach the efficiencies of today’s airlines, then combining those numbers v an obscure and facility Earth-moon orbit called the Uphoff-Crouch Cycler. He created a 10-page economic evaluation constructing the future lunar economy, whose currency, the slug, is based on the expense of transporting one gram indigenous the Earth. The referenced modern-day nuclear power plant design in determining the base’s power production and also consumption budget.

“The complete time the passed through while ns was working on Artemis, just the city, was like a year,” Weir says, “although not all of that year was invested working top top it.” throughout our conversation, I required to repeat myself that he is a novelist, and also not a scientist making an actual base. Still, his message is clear and also convincing: the a lunar base must be built before any other off Earth, and that doing therefore is getting surprisingly close come feasibility.

Fit and finish: A 1990 NASA map out of a modular lunar station whose hardware focuses on crew health.NASA

Why have to we colonize the moon prior to we colonize Mars?

I don’t think human being understand the size of difference there is between Mars’ distance and Earth’s distance. If you were on a football field, and also you’re standing on one goal line and also imagine Mars is top top the other goal line, then the moon would certainly be about four inches in front of you. Colonizing Mars before colonizing the moon would certainly be favor if the old Britons colonized North America prior to they colonized Wales. It would certainly be much easier to develop a city ~ above the moon because that the sole purpose of assisting friend in colonizing Mars 보다 it would be to go directly to Mars.

In her book, what drives the emigration of the moon?

Before girlfriend colonize miscellaneous there’s got to be financial reasons. In Artemis the tourism. The whole story is based on the presumption the the commercial room industry drives the price of travel to the moon low sufficient for center class human being to afford it. Climate it becomes financially viable to build a resort on the moon that civilization can walk to. That’s sort of a once in a lifetime thing come do, and a lot of world would execute that. The city the Artemis is built very close to the Apollo landing site so you deserve to go there and also look in ~ it, you deserve to do EVAs (extravehicular activity, or spacewalks) in small hamster balls, and also it seems prefer it would certainly be a nice fun location to visit.

The infrastructure for tourists to stay on during their trip to the moon only ever before need to be thrown into orbit once.

What perform you think the price of travel to the moon will certainly be?

In the story, the price of putting a human into low earth orbit is $7,000 dollars in 2015 dollars, or $35 for a kilogram of freight. By compare today’s price is approximately $4,000 for a kilogram the freight. Reaching low-Earth orbit is the hardest part of the journey. I obtained to these numbers by making a comparison come commercial aviation. Let’s say the commercial space industry and also airline market spent the same percent of your revenue ~ above consumables favor fuel. After a bunch the research, I discovered that airlines spend about 16.5 percent of your revenue top top fuel. Due to the fact that I recognize the price of rocket fuel, I have the right to get full launch costs. Yes sir a lot of of assumptions in there yet it’s not completely out that the question, and it only needs to be good enough because that fiction.

What is the Uphoff-Crouch Cycler and how does it assist tourists with the moon?

The cycler is prefer a hotel that, as soon as you put it right into its orbit, doesn’t ever need to usage fuel again. It just naturally remains in the orbit and also goes back and forth in between the Earth and the moon. You still need to accelerate her cargo approximately the speed of the cycler chin to make a rendezvous. Yet the infrastructure for, say, tourist to stay on during their trip to the moon only ever before need to be thrown right into orbit once. There would certainly be world who just live and work ~ above the cycler. This is far better than utilizing one ship that goes directly ago and forth between the Earth and the moon, i m sorry would require you to advice the humans and also the ship every time. Nobody has ever made an Uphoff-Crouch cycler, yet the orbit dynamics are sound and it is the cheapest method to make moon take trip happen.

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The currency of Artemis is the slug. What is a slug and how does that work?

One cheese is the cost of delivering one gram of stuff from the earth to the moon. Ns going to skip end the 10 pages that economic analysis I walk while setting up because that the book, however basically the exchange price is six slugs come one 2015 dollar. Therefore imagine you want to buy an iPhone. Okay, fine an iPhone costs $1,000 so that would price 6,000 slugs. Yet then you likewise need to get it transport to the moon. Fortunately an iPhone only weighs about 100 grams, so the only prices you second 100 slugs. The full cost is $6100 slugs. Now rather let’s speak you want to to buy a quite couch because that $500, or 3,000 slugs. Yet it likewise weighs 50 kilograms, so that’s 50,000 slug to gain it shipped to the moon. For this reason you check out mass problem a many in just how much something ends up costing in Artemis.