An opinion piece:
There was a time, within the lifetimes of many who may read this, when scientists called the idea of useful water resources on the moon silly childish fantasy, great for a Heinlein Libertarian story but ignorant. Much like the once-mighty rocket companies of yore said landing a rocket’s first stage on its fins and reusing it was an impossible, uneducated science fiction (kiddie science fiction) idea.
There was the miniscule H2O evidence returned by Luna24 Then came Lunar Prospector (with thanks to the obsessive dedication of Alan Binder and the technical and physical support of Gregg Maryniak, Gerry O’Neill and the SSI membership push). Water in tangible quantity, very possibly. And, of course, there was Clementine – a launch that NASA dedicated to Gerard K. O’Neill for his many space related efforts – which did a tiny bit more for Water but also had that silliness from the tinfoil-hat community.
Then came Chandra and Chandrayaan-1. Ok already, Water.
And now, in the blink of an eye, we go from There Is Some Water to We Must Go Use It All Before Anyone Else Does.
It is possible that there is as much water on the moon as there used to be petroleum on Earth. Highly doubtful but Space folk know the saying: “Until we actually go, we don’t actually know.” In any case, there is no doubt that whatever is there now, lying there and slowly adding up for potentially millions of years, is going to be controlled by the first to get to it. It’s not an evil socialist thing, it’s not an evil communist thing, it’s not an evil capitalist thing… it is just a regular old Human thing.
From one side of the room comes: “someone should DO something!” From another: “oh well, *we* gave up so *they* will ruin things, oh well.” From another, the wall with the window: “you know, there really can’t be enough to go for another fossil fuel timeframe so… at least this might burst-create the infrastructure and logistics and real NEED and when it’s all gone from the Moon, someone will see that they have already made what is needed to step up to the asteroids.”
The fourth wall, of course, is where sit the quiet ones who hear “water” and think Dandridge Cole’s Panama Theory.
Interesting times. We Keep Working.