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MOON BASE: RECURRING DREAM

ELO_skis.JPGMoon Base? Old news.In his hotly anticipated announcement Wednesday, President Bush ordered NASA scientists to plan for a manned "foothold on the moon." They might look through their old filing cabinets to start. Because the U.S. government and its contractors have been planning lunar colonies since long before Neil Armstrong took his one giant leap for mankind in 1969.Since word of Bush's space plan leaked last week, political rivals and some space-policy experts have assaulted it for being too expensive and grandiose.ELO_base.JPGBut the 2004 plan sounds downright meek compared with a 1959 scheme to use nearly 150 rockets to outfit a military outpost on the moon. A 180-person lunar commune probably isn't in the works, as was proposed in 1972. And it's hard to imagine a replay of 1975's idea to build a 100-ton, magnetic-levitation train for tossing bags of freshly mined lunar soil into space, where it would be processed into industrial supplies.My Wired News article has looks at some of history's kookiest moon plans.THERE'S MORE: Ben Bova, Greg Bear and other science-fiction luminaries are fired up about the new space plan.

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