100K People Will Live On the Moon
In the fine print we have to put “By the year 2150 there will be 100,000 people living on the Moon”. But that is okay. In 2050 there will be less than 100 humans on the Moon and in 1950 all Humanity could do was stare at the Moon wondering if it was in fact made of cheese. Regardless, by the year 2150 Humanity will have 100,000 people on the Moon as we’ll outline in the following article.
The 1st Permanent Settlement In Space: The ISS
November 2000 was the last time all humans born on earth lived on earth. As in November of 2000, the International Space Station, aka the ISS, was launched into geosynchronous orbit. Let us rephrase. The first module of the ISS was launched in 1998 and the first Human residents moved into the assembled ISS on November 2, 2000. However, since November 2, 2000 when US Commander and former Navy Seal, William Shepard and Russian Flight Engineers Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev set foot onto the ISS there has been at least 1 Human living off planet. This initial crew stayed afloat for 136 days and now, twenty plus years later Humanity is eyeing the moon again thinking, “Should we put a Disney World on the darkside of it?”
The Moon: Humanity’s 3rd Permanent Settlement in Space
We’re only half kidding about Disney World on the moon. There will be some sort of theme park, relaxation / recreation center on the moon for the 100k soldiers, Space Force Guardians, researchers and then as we get closer to 2150, their children. The only question is who will license out their name and pay Cislunar Industries, Orbital Assembly, Sierra Space, MattBeth Construction or some other similarly positioned construction-space firm to build it. If I were a betting man I’d skip Marriott and put my money on Dar Al Arkan out of Saudi Arabia or Al Habtoor Group from the United Arab Emirates.
The future of Lunar city planning and urban development aside, the moon will be Humanity’s third permanent settlement in Space. While many will say and plan for Mars, that faction of dreamers is just that. Dreaming. Maybe even delusional to think that there will ever be more than 50 people on Mars at any given time. Yes, there will be some humans on Mars but not more than 50 or so. You can read more about the reasons why in our other article “50 People On Mars, Maximum” or you can employ some common sense. In order to get to Mars, we first have to build the infrastructure in Cislunar orbit, to build the orbital habitats that can be transported to Mar’s orbit and transport Humans to Mar’s orbit, before they descend onto the planet. In order to accomplish this, we must first mine materials from the Moon, to be refined in orbit (easier to build big things like Titan-class Dreadnoughts (UNSC 2543) in microgravity) and then used by Cislunar Industries to build the next generation bio-habs, Space stations and spaceships that will carry Humanity to Mars. However, to mine construction and engineering materials from the Moon first requires us to establish a manufacturing outpost on the Moon. Yes, the first few trips to Mars will be the equivalent of Human sacrifices to the God of War, Ares. We thank those brave souls for their sacrifice. However, if we plan on having permanent human settlement on Mars, we must first develop a manufacturing, supply, and logistics outpost on the Moon.
AirCraft Carriers On The Moon
The USS Gerald R. Ford measures 1,106 feet in length, and has a displacement of 112,000 tons, making it the largest warship and aircraft carrier in the world. It has the capacity to house over 4,500 crew on board. The research and development of the Ford-class aircraft carrier cost $37.3 billion, and the construction of each unit cost almost $13 billion. Currently the US Navy has an order for 10 total Ford-class aircraft carriers. Meaning the US Navy will spend over $400B this decade in upgrading its aircraft carriers. And yes, that math may not math initially so we’ll break it down. $37.3B to develop, plus $13B for each carrier, x10 = $130B + $37.3B = $167.3 Billion dollars (x2.5 because when is the last time a DoD project of this size came in remotely on budget?) Brings us to a grand total of: $418.25B dollars.
A trillion dollars later (adjusting 7% a year for the next 10 years while the new fleet is being built) the US Navy will have almost modernized and re-established America’s air superiority for the next 50 years. The reason America will almost re-establish air superiority is because in the 5th Industrial Revolution that is The Space Economy, whoever owns Space, owns and dictates everything below it. Afterall, Space is the ultimate high ground.
As you digest that way to obvious set of observations, we arrive at aircraft carriers on the Moon. Double the size and crew complement, then take it from water tight, to an air tight enclosure. Tada! We already have the technical expertise to build self-contained outpost on the Moon. And so we will. Beginning in 2026 with the Artemis program America will return to the Moon and set about the slow build of infrastructure and residence over the next 150 years that will enable America to remain a Global Power because it will be the premier Space Power. This slow build up to 100k people on the Moon will cost a little bit more than $1 Trillion dollars. Probably closer to…well, remember that time we spent $9T to $12T dollars from 2001 to 2022, in Afghanistan to free the Taliban from the Taliban so the Taliban could take over? We’ll invest a multiple of that over the next 150 years but with a much clearer return on investment.
Tiangong - Humanity’s 2nd Permanent Home In Space
The Tiangong Space Station is China’s solution to being denied access to the ISS. Why the US and Russia have cohabitated this ISS for two decades and never once allowed the Chinese to visit is a tale for another story. However, Tiangong is China’s response to being snubbed from the ISS.
The first module, the Tianhe ("Harmony of the Heavens") core module, was launched on April 29, 2021, followed by multiple crewed and uncrewed missions and two more laboratory cabin modules Wentian ("Quest for the Heavens") launched on July 24, 2022 and Mengtian ("Dreaming of the Heavens") launched on Halloween in October of 2022. Yes, China’s space station has only been in orbit and inhabited for about a year as of the writing of this article, nonetheless it is safe to call Tiangong Humanity’s second permanent home in Space.
Though young, Tiangong is Humanity's second permanent home in Space. However, it will not be the last Space station in orbit. While China is leveraging up its investments in Space as it plans its next 1000 year dynasty in Cislunar orbit and beyond, private companies are also planning their own “orbital research parks”. So we can anticipate that by 2035 we could have as many as 6 independently owned, operated and continuously staffed Space stations.
Note: China also launched its third aircraft carrier the Fujian, Type 003 in 2022. The warship measures around 984 feet in length and has a displacement of 80,000 tons, making it smaller than the US Nimitz-class and Ford-class warships. Nevertheless, it demonstrates that China too has the technical expertise to (probably in partnership with Russia and Saudi Arabia) build its own set of 10 aircraft carrier sized outposts on the moon.
50/50 US/China Occupancy of The Moon
The real reason we’ll have 100k people on the moon is that neither China nor the US want to lose the Space Race 3.0 nor can they afford to lose the 6th Industrial Revolution. To that end, well before there are ten people total on Mars, the US and China and their respective allies, will have roughly 10 aircraft carrier sized outposts, consisting of 5000 crew members, each. Why this will be the case is simple. You cannot be a Global Power if you are not a Space Power. And the next Cold War will be fought in the frigid tundra that is the vacuum of Space, between Earth and the Moon.
The 50 people who live on Mars will be a microcosm of the Moon. Twenty-five Americans and their allies and 25 Chinese and their allies. Afterall, what kind of business could be done on Mars to make it profitable to establish more than a scientific listening post there? Too, if we develop the technology to terraform the Martian landscape, whoever owns that IP would make more money using it to reverse Global Warming right here on Spaceship Earth.
The really interesting aspect of having 100k people live on the Moon is mulling over three questions:
- How do we pay for this quadrillion dollar infrastructure project?
- Does money as we know it today have any value if you print a few quadrillion bank notes?
- Who will be Humanity’s first quadrillionaire and why will she be from either India, Nigeria or Tanzania?
Buckle up Spacepreneurs and Earthlings alike. The Space Economy is going to be a wild ride.
About the Authors
Samson Williams and George S. Pullen are founders of MilkyWayEconomy, a Washington, DC based think tank who specialize in understanding the economic foundations of the Fifth Industrial Revolution and the Space Economy. In addition to writing, researching and being investors in 5th Industrial Revolution companies, Samson and George are adjunct professors at the University of New Hampshire School of Law and instructors at Columbia University in NYC. Additionally, George is a Marine (retired) and guest lecturer at the National Defense University.