Saturday, March 18, 2006

Halliburton Does It On Earth; Why Not In Space Too?

The writer over at the "space4peace" blog claims the mission of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is to look for minerals on Mars in order to
"... set[] up the infrastructure to make it possible in the future to have the industry go in and reap major profit from mining operations. The Halliburton Corporation is today creating a drilling mechanism to do Mars mining. Once NASA has successfully created the ability the [sic] mine the skies the entire operation will be privatized."
(Here.)

Apparently that's a bad thing.

The bogeyman of Halliburton is often trotted out by the left as it tries to scare the American people. But what would be so bad about turning over parts of human space exploration to Halliburton? Here's how its subsidiary, KBR, turned a desert wasteland in Kuwait into a thriving US military base at the drop of a hat.
"A good example is Camp Arifjan, a U.S. Army base about 90 minutes southwest of Kuwait City. Six months ago, this was nothing but a small collection of buildings that was supposed to be a training base. On Oct. 11 -- the day Congress gave President Bush authority to wage war on Iraq -- someone in the Pentagon picked up a phone and told KBR it had nine weeks to turn Arifjan into a full-blown Army base for 7,000 people. The job went to Robert (Butch) Gatlin, a wizened 59-year-old Tennessean who served 32 years in the Army Corps of Engineers before coming to perform the same work, at much greater pay, for KBR.

''When we got here, there was no power or water,'' Gatlin said as we stepped from the air-conditioned trailer that is KBR's Arifjan headquarters into the blinding desert sun. Within about 72 hours of the Pentagon's call, Gatlin had a handful of KBR specialists -- electricians, carpenters, plumbers -- on planes headed here. Most of the rest were hired locally. ''I had a thousand people working here in 24 hours,'' he said. ''The Army can't do that.''

KBR essentially took an entire Army base out of containers and made it rise in the middle of the Kuwaiti desert two days ahead of schedule: air-conditioned tents complete with 110-volt outlets for the soldiers' boom boxes, male and female shower blocks, kitchens, a laundry, Pepsi machines, a Nautilus-equipped health club with an aerobics room (''Latin Dance Thurs & Sat!''), a rec center with video games and a stack of Monopoly sets, a Baskin-Robbins and a Subway sandwich shop."
(Dan Baum, GlobalPolicy.org.)

Expertise like that could be useful to the space settlers of the future seeking to exploit the resources of the solar system. And what would the space4peaceniks think of this theory (here) that oil shale is beneath the surface of Mars creating the Red Planet's atmospheric methane? Oooo, scary.

-tdr

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Hat tip to Curmudgeons Corner for finding the space4peace post.

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Comments:
The first thing drilled for on Mars will likely be liquid water.

Somebody gave me a really good reference doc some years ago about what kind of effort it would take. It's not trivial--but if successful, you have a ready source of water, oxygen, and (with the air) rocket fuel.

Not that we'll see Martian iron exported here--easier to grab an asteroid for metals--but every pound of minerals dug up there is one that doesn't have to be shipped all that way out there.
 
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