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In its heyday Earth was a great interplanetary trading post on account of its low gravity moon which was used as a warehouse for all kinds of goods.

The Moon was covered almost entirely in large warehouses and each had a staff of thousands. These people were manual workers, management and administrators plus technicians to maintain living conditions. All the people you would expect for a large business. None of them were research scientists although there were a few engineers.

Sadly Earth was hit by an asteroid causing extinction of all non-aquatic animal life. Many edible plants and sea-creatures survived.

Even more sadly, this coincided with a slump in the galactic economy. Trade died and no-one came their way any more - not even pirates who have no access to FTL travel.

Can they ever escape from the Moon back to Earth?

Resources

  1. They have whatever minerals etc. already exist on the Moon (as known in 2018).

  2. They have their buildings and equipment which are made of 2018-level technology and materials.

  3. They have a vast quantity of goods in the warehouses.

  4. These goods consist of (and only of) anything that could be bought on Amazon in 2018. But they don't have to buy it - it's already in their warehouses.

  5. They have all home comforts for family life including fresh fruit and vegetables grown locally.

Unavailable resources

  1. There are no petroleum deposits on the Moon as life had never existed there before the advent of humans.

  2. They don't have any kind of space ship. They relied entirely on a now defunct shuttle service to get from Earth and back assuming they wanted to.

  3. There was limited farming of animals because of the difficulty in growing sufficient quantities of foodstuffs. Meat is a luxury and most pets were banned as a consequence.

Question

So - can they ever escape from the Moon to Earth and land safely? If not can they survive indefinitely on the Moon as a community?

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    $\begingroup$ Petroleum would make for very poor rocket fuel anyway. $\endgroup$ – Renan Nov 12 '18 at 11:50
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    $\begingroup$ First they dig up and watch the Macgyver series (the old one). Then, they blow themselves up trying to replicate it in practice. $\endgroup$ – nzaman Nov 12 '18 at 12:25
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    $\begingroup$ Where are the now-defunct shuttles of the shuttle service? On the moon in a warehouse? Orbiting the moon? Are you implying that even though shuttles used to routinely touch down on the moon, there is no 'spaceport' with spare parts and such? $\endgroup$ – kingledion Nov 12 '18 at 13:02
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    $\begingroup$ "large warehouses and each had a staff of thousands. These people were manual workers, management and administrators". Also no. They would be staffed by robots (and not even androids), with as few humans as possible. $\endgroup$ – RonJohn Nov 12 '18 at 14:23
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    $\begingroup$ Tend to agree with @RonJohn on this. After an impact event of this scale, the plant-life suffers due to lack of sunlight (too much dust in atmo). It's more the die-off of edible plants that tips animal life over the edge. $\endgroup$ – Arkenstein XII Nov 12 '18 at 20:02
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Nope

Mainly because:

These goods consist of (and only of) anything that could be bought on Amazon in 2018. But they don't have to buy it - it's already in their warehouses.

I just did a few searches in amazon.com, amazon.ca and amazon.co.uk. unfortunately they don't seem to sell hydrogen in any form and amount that you could use for rockets. They don't even sell RCS systems like the Appolo program lunar modules ascent stage used, nor RCS propellants like Aerozine 50 and nitrogen tetroxide.

Without scientists, and with a limited amount of supplies and people for throughout testing, I don't think you could emulate a space program, nor do a desperate attempt to jury rig a few toys into a proper ship to Earth.

As for living indefinitwly on the Moon - I think a regular shuttle service from Earth means that you'd get your food from there.

The moon might have had the odd hippie growing their own food in their quarters, but large scale farming on the Moon is not something you would do. Not when it lacks a natural atmosphere and rich soil for the plants, while having those things in abundance on Earth, which is just a few hours away.

Even if those guys are on full survival mode... Andy Weir's The Martian had a lot of handwaving, and that was just one person involved. You can't feed a whole population on improvised farming. That would be a nutrition nightmare.

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    $\begingroup$ You don't need much of a kick to get off the moon, I'd think oxidiser rather than fuel would be the limiting factor. Finely milled cardboard from boxed goods would do the job if you rigged things right. $\endgroup$ – Ash Nov 12 '18 at 12:31
  • $\begingroup$ Yes and you don't need as power to land on Earth as you do to leave it. It might be a matter of drawing straws to see who would make the attempt. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Nov 12 '18 at 12:49
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    $\begingroup$ @Ash that would be a very fun experiment (I'm setious, I'd love to build it!) $\endgroup$ – Renan Nov 12 '18 at 13:02
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    $\begingroup$ @Renan I see two options, one is basically the same as a dry powder flamethrower, the other is something akin to a solid fuel rocket, it would depend on what, if any, strong oxidiser was available. $\endgroup$ – Ash Nov 12 '18 at 13:07
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    $\begingroup$ Ammonium Sulphamate is available here amazon.co.uk/Lancelot-Ammonium-Sulphamate-5Kg/dp/B004MMTVJI/….... and is a strong oxidising agent according to this sitem.herts.ac.uk/aeru/iupac/Reports/35.htm $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Nov 12 '18 at 13:16
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Forgetting for a moment all about the resources they do and don't have if the population are primarily moon-born return isn't an option. Anyone born on the Moon almost certainly can't go to Earth and definitely doesn't want to. Its a matter of gravity, humans who spend time in low gravity lose bone density, fast, people born in 17% Earth gravity are going to be exceedingly delicate, they wouldn't survive re-entry and their skeletons would collapse under full Earth Gravity if they did. If you wanted to recolonise Earth you'd need something like an O'Neill Cylinder first in which to breed a gravity adjusted population.

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  • $\begingroup$ The moon has some gravity and spacefarers could train by exercising. Note that the population are mainly second and third generation. I think once they had successfully built a craft, they could design a tough training regime, maybe even from childhood. People have returned from very long flights in zero gravity (over a year) spaceanswers.com/space-exploration/…. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Nov 12 '18 at 13:01
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    $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK The moon has just enough gravity to be a problem without supporting bone density, training has nothing to do with it, to grow strong bones you need high resting load which you don't get in low gravity. Unfortunately the moon is big enough that rotation based pseudo-gravity isn't an option. A year isn't much considered against a human lifetime, or even just considered against the 20 odd years it takes to make an infant into an astronaut. $\endgroup$ – Ash Nov 12 '18 at 13:24
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    $\begingroup$ Ash - That's useful. There was regular traffic between Moon and Earth before the disaster so maybe people did 6 month stints. The people who happened to be on the Moon at the time of the event were the lucky ones, at least in the short run. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Nov 12 '18 at 16:39
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    $\begingroup$ I agree that bone density is worth considering, but we REALLY DON'T KNOW what lunar-human bones will look like. We know about homo sapiens in 1g and (brief stints in) 0g. We do not know how bone structure scales between these gravity values. Linear? Logarithmic? Power law? A recifier? We don't even understand the mechanism behind bone loss well enough to even hypothesise reasonable behaviour. $\endgroup$ – Mark_Anderson Nov 12 '18 at 19:50
  • $\begingroup$ Although given the stresses of re-entry it is probable that bone strength would be an issue unless we had methods to strengthen bones on the moon. I think 2018 tech would rapidly provide this if we started living up there for interstellar trade. $\endgroup$ – Mark_Anderson Nov 12 '18 at 19:57
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You can buy packs of sugar, cardboard tubing and baking soda on amazon, you can make a solid booster rocket from those ingredients. Nothing fancy but enough to get into orbit from the moon… with a ton of luck.

This would be more a 'lets get help' solution, since i doubt the hundreds of thousands of people all have half a ton of sugar available.

Although… they have farms, maybe they can grow it? Id scale down the amount of people needed to staff the facilities tbh.

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