January 3, 2011

Idea: Crowdfund a mission to put a monolith on the moon

The goal: Erect a monolith on the moon. (See 2001 for reference).

Is there an upper limit to the amount of money you can raise on Kickstarter? Because I guesstimate this project will require about half a billion dollars. So I only need to find 5 million geeks-like-me worldwide who think this is a cool enough idea to donate 100 bucks. That seems pretty doable, especially considering Kickstarter’s rule that nobody has to pay anything if I can’t raise all the money I need, so people can donate with confidence. But maybe my estimate is way off. Here’s my thinking:

Through the power of Google, I found a few estimates on what it would take to get to the moon. They ranged widely. In 2005, a private company estimated that they could send you on a roundtrip fly-by for $100 million, and another private company figured they could land on the moon for $10 billion. My idea doesn’t have to be a manned mission, but it does need to actually land on the moon and erect a monolith. It only has to be a one-way trip, though, which should keep it relatively cheap.

Last year, a kid and his dad in Brooklyn sent their cell phone into space and back on a shoestring budget. Okay, so the moon is about 3,272 times further than the edge of space, but it’s still inspiring.

Nobody would crowdfund a trip to send someone else to the moon, because there’s no incentive. Why should I pay a hundred bucks for you to go to the moon? Why do you get to be the lucky one? But this project is something nerdy folks worldwide could get behind. It’s space exploration and development through private enterprise, and a tribute to great sci-fi. And we can all enjoy the process and the result. Also: Everyone who donates gets a Monolith Project sticker.

So what would be involved in such a project? I have no idea where to begin, except that I know it would cost a lot of money. The money raised would probably be used for engineering, fuel, permits, design, mission control staff, supplies, tools, rent for a place to physically build the thing, other fees and salaries, etc. I’d probably need to start with a project manager, someone to oversee everything. In fact, maybe a lot of the work needs to be done before the fundraising just to figure out how much the whole thing would cost. Maybe I need to have a kickstarter project just to raise the research and development money to figure out how much money I would need for the main project.

Maybe this project should piggyback with some other entity that’s already sending a ship to the moon. Surely there’s a government or private group planning a moon trip that has room for a monolith on board in exchange for some money, right? Maybe that would make this idea less expensive.

What would the design of the monolith be? Aside from having 1:4:9 dimensions, how big should it be? I guess it should be hollow so that it’s light and requires less fuel to carry. I can envision a few monolith designs that pack up flat for transport. Some consideration should be given to how it will be erected. Will it drop down on a parachute and land in one piece? Will it land in a ball and inflate upon landing? Will it require robots to go down and assemble it?

What do you think? If a monolith-on-the-moon project were to be crowdfunded, how would it work? What would need to be considered? What would be the most efficient and effective way to get a monolith on the moon?

Could mankind put a monolith on the moon through micropayments?

Update: A commenter reminds me that parachutes won’t work on the moon because there’s no atmosphere, and I confess that I feel stupid for that oversight. But other than that, this plan should totally work.

Related: Idea: A skyscraper in Tokyo shaped like Godzilla


Where is the link to your project @ Kickstarter? I want to donate!

Very Ironic Sans-idea, but not to the tune of $100 a head. You’ll definitely first need a Kickstarter project to assess the viability of the main objective, setting up of realistic budget(s), timelines and (methods and markers for the) goalposts. Also, getting a mere Monolith Sticker for the effort, no matter how Official™, would be an insult to the backers. You will have to come up with some more exciting Exclusive Proof of Participation to the Lunar Monolith Erection™ - why not an ethereal/ reusable stand-up Monolith Condom of benefit to both Earthian sexes? Also make the monolith itself out of some specific crystalline material that, when hit with a laser beam from the Earth, will emit (e.g.) a “Hello Kitty™” sign in Technicolor™ (or equivalents thereof), visible to any naked eye peering through suitable optical telescope.

I do not suspect you can drop a Monolith (or anything) on the Moon with a parachute.

However, the rest of the idea is awesome. I vote for whatever size the Moon Monolith was in the book, which according to Wikipedia is 11 feet on the longest dimension, so about 1.1 x 4.9 x 11 feet, or 0.34 x 1.5 x 3.4 meters. Seems doable.

Of course, we’d have to land it in the Tycho crater, and if it had a solar panel for power so it could broadcast a signal of some kind that’d be pretty darn cool.

I wonder, would that be a true Monolith or just a threedimensional approximation?

A few technical notes:

There’s no atmosphere on the moon, so no parachutes. There are basically two ways to land something on the moon: to crash or to use rocket engines.

The kid and father did not send anything into space, they sent a balloon and camera to the upper atmosphere. It was less than a third of the way to space.

There are Google Lunar X Prize teams who want to sell space on their lander. One team is planning to land 100kg of payload on the moon. There isn’t going to be a lot of space though. Definitely no 11 foot payloads.

If you really want to go about it, the most likely to succeed approach would be to negotiate a flat price contract to deliver a monolith of whatever specification to the moon, and sign up as many of the serious GLXP teams as possible. Whoever succeeds first gets the money. It would be on the order of $2M.

ianf, nothing manmade can be seen on the moon from an optical telescope on earth. Even from lunar orbit all out various landers don’t stick out very much.

Erect a monolith on the moon.


Excavate the monolith on the moon.

If it was an 11-foot titanium box, you could put other stuff in it and just leave the box on the Moon when you were done.

Erect a monolith on the moon.


Excavate the monolith on the moon.

Instead of stickers, may I recommend a NASA mission-style patch as the reward for chipping in. They won’t cost much at the quantities you’ll be buying.

I second Ben’s suggestion that you piggyback on the GLXP teams somehow.

You could set up a secondary prize for existing GLXP teams to earn. For example, $10M for delivering a 1:4:9 flat black monolith (upright!) of at least 1 meter in height to the moon, then transmitting live HD video of it in place. The live broadcast would have a scroller at the bottom with the names of the backers, which covers the “what you get” part.

Give the teams lots of leeway on materials, weight, and how to get it there, as long as the main goal is met. Get in touch with the X PRIZE Foundation for help with specifics, but it looks doable.

@Ben Brockert: I’ve seen a movie of astronomers watching [a telescope-tv-reception of] lasers hitting lunar targets which were left there by NASA just for the purpose of establishing range and accuracy. But I suppose it all could just been part of the Greater Lunar Landing Conspiracy?

@ianf: The lasers are bounced off retroreflectors and “viewed” with a detector. A great way for anyone to verify that “we really went”, but still nothing you’d see with your own eyes.

I guess that’ll have to wait for the Great Wall of Tycho.

I think you could erect a much larger/heavier monolith if you plan to send automated mining and 3D “printing” equipment to mine some native metals from the Moon itself, and construct a monolith on the spot!

Dude, the Monolith is there already. I’d donate toward an excavation expedition however. Then again, what with global warming and all, I just can’t see a good reason for a second sun in the solar system.

A monolith is great, but how about sending a humanoid android to the Moon in 1000 days instead? One that can return 3D HD video for us Earthlings, and do interesting things there? Engineers at the Johnson Space Center have a white paper for exactly this mission, called “Project M”, that is just sitting on the shelf, waiting for a publicity/fundraising push like this.

I think a humanoid robot is just kitschy enough to spark the same neurons as a monolith, but with a way cooler result. The budget, last I checked, was about $450 million, so it fits in exactly the range you mentioned. Take a look, think about it!

I’m in. I agree that you first need to set up a project to do cost assessment. I think it’s pretty obvious that in addition to a monolith sticker you also get your name on the monolith, and if you donate a bunch, you get to touch the monolith in person before it goes into space.

Dare I suggest that the Monolith would be covered in solar cells…

For as much power as it can store/generate, it would use that for timed transmissions of HAL’s last message, and at a longer interval an encoded transmission with the names of those who funded the project.

And my name too. Just cos.

How about this:

  • hire Peter Jackson to shoot movie about erecting a monolith on a moon (he’ll find some desert on New Zealand)
  • spend rest of the cash on another type of erection (and some booze)

No joke, I would contribute $100 - actually, probably $250, if I don’t have to pay unless the whole thing gets funded - to assist. I bet if you provide differing degrees to which people can get some kind of recognition/participation, you could really fund the crap out of this - after all, the monolith would exist for a long, long time, which offers great possibilities that it may be found by an alien civilization if you put some kind of beacon in it.

So for example:

* $100 gets your name on it
* $1,000 gets your photo
* $2,000 gets a video recording of you
* $10,000 and you get to send a DNA sample

I really think that you could contact John Carmack. He’s into space business, he likes weird stuff : D and damn, this is just one quite impressive idea.

I really think that you could contact John Carmack. He’s into space business, he likes weird stuff : D and damn, this is just one quite impressive idea.

It can’t be hollow. It has to be full of stars.

A few hundred million for a monument that could never possibly be as cool as the Apollo 11 LM? Why?

I’d put 100 in for that. In fact, I think I’d regularly contribute to a crowd funded space program. Why not? I already contribute to a whole host of tax funded crap that no one wants or needs.

The way to erect it is surely spring-loaded flatpack, like this: http://copyranter.blogspot.com/2010/10/adt-shows-you-how-easy-it-is-to-break.html.

And +1 for your name on the monolith being the payoff.

The way to erect it is surely spring-loaded flatpack, like this: http://copyranter.blogspot.com/2010/10/adt-shows-you-how-easy-it-is-to-break.html.

And +1 for your name on the monolith being the payoff.

sign me up. i also can be the project manager.

Change the destiny to Mars and maybe you get my support.

Change the destiny to Mars and maybe you get my support.

You definitely need to make it point to Jupiter.

OMFG. You can’t think of ANYTHING better you could do with a HALF BILLION DOLLARS?

Is it cool? Sure. But so what? Cure cancer already. And screw Mars altogether. We’ve got actual problems on THIS planet.

OMFG. You can’t think of ANYTHING better you could do with a HALF BILLION DOLLARS?

Is it cool? Sure. But so what? Cure cancer already. And screw Mars altogether. We’ve got actual problems on THIS planet.

The monolith needs to be massive for two reasons: to see it from earth and so it has enough kinetic force (f=mass x speed-squared) to embed itself. The cost would also be massive, but perhaps Coca-Cola would foot the bill for the sign on its top.

Love it. If you allow the donor’s name, twitter handle, something random and personalizeable, i bet you can get a few more people to contribute $100.

The way to get sufficient funding it is to get movie & TV actors to add donations to their wills in exchange for the right to have some of their ashes interned in the monolith. When people see the monolith they can say… “My god, it’s full of stars.”

Editor Neo-opsis Science Fiction Magazine

I would be in for that but may I recommend a patch rather than a sticker? We could get someone to design it (I’ll see if a graphic friend of mine will whip one up) like the mission patches astronauts get:).

but definitely in for a monolith!

If this happens (very large almost nonexistent IF) then all donators should have their names inscribed on the monolith ;)

That is one of the most far fetched, useless and impossible idea I’ve heard in a long time… where can I donate?

“OMFG. You can’t think of ANYTHING better you could do with a HALF BILLION DOLLARS?”

I agree with this. Sorry, I love this idea and it would be really cool, but.. not for that amount of money. There are a lot of problems in this world, medicins or solutions being too expensive, and I think I’d be more proud of the internet community if we can say we helped curing a disease.

Love the idea, but for those suggest writing the names of donors, would be impractible with 1 million+ donors.

No, I would not contribute to this idea. I do like your vision & love of 2001. I would agree with other posters that you would need to do something better than a sticker for donors. Good luck.

Don’t land it in the Tycho crater, you’ll hit the existing monolith! :P

In all seriousness, I think the joke above about putting the ashes of celebrities (or more to the point, very big donors) in it would be a good way of funding it. The morbid side of it, though, is that it means the first permanent human structure we erect on the moon is effectively a tombstone and mass grave.

people who donate should get their name laser-etched on the inside of the monolith.

Do like Stanley: first, erect a monolith in the Olduvai Gorge in East Africa.

There’s a Swedish project to put a small red cottage on the moon.


I’ll donate if I can get my name etched in.

Not to burst another bubble (so to speak), but as for the suggestion that the monolith “land in a ball and inflate upon landing,” the same lack of atmosphere that makes a parachute useless would make a balloon-like approach impractical as well. While you wouldn’t need very much gas to inflate a balloon in vacuum, if it weren’t absolutely airtight, it would slowly deflate.

Great idea. Sounds like something the Long Now Foundation should get involved it…

There’s a slight atmosphere. You’re gonna need a big ass parachute, though.

Best Ironic Sans “Idea:” yet, and that’s saying something. What’s great about an inert monolith is you don’t really need to build a ship, you just need to throw it hard enough and in the right direction. Invest in a reusable, tunable, terrestrial launch platform and you can just keep lobbing monoliths until one lands there.

But as much as I like this, I’d still rather send up a long-term rover with immersive telemetry, and sell tickets to drive.

The monolith needs to be able to withstand a direct hit from a 747.

How are you going to fill it with stars?

Honestly, I think the mission is too pointless. If you are going to put together that kind of money, it should be something useful.

I was going to say a manned mission to Mars (by some estimates this is doable with five billion), but a lot of people would not consider it realistic.

However, there are two important precursor missions. One is a sample-return mission with in-situ propellant production. In-situ propellant production is the key idea to enable cheap Mars missions (basically you use CO2 from the atmosphere to make methane using hydrogen you take with you). It’s simple but it has never been proven on a real mission.

A minor problem with this mission is that there could be fears of back-contamination from the sample (rocks and dirt) returned. However, the sample could be returned to the Moon instead. This would still prove the technology.

A totally different mission is a 0.4G biology test. You send lab rats up to a spinning habitat that achieves 0.4G gravity. Then you measure fitness, activity, and even reproduction. If 0.4G gravity is good enough for mammals to maintain constant muscle mass and breed and so on, then Mars colonization is feasible. If not, then this is a real problem since we can eventually add an atmosphere to Mars, but we can’t make it have more gravity.

My guess is that 0.4G will work, but with lower muscle mass. But incredibly, no 0.4G research has been done! Only zero G.

So my $100 (or more) is definitely up for either of these. I would also consider other missions, so long as some science or technology demonstrator value resulted from them.

But for a pointless monolith, not a dime. Sorry! The carbon footprint of such a mission would also give it a net negative value for me.

In. Problems and all. Anything to start the exodus.

Make each side a pneumatic leg that will right the entire frame after landing and have two enclosed auger drills that will embed support beams into the moon before the sides retract leaving an erect monolith on the moon.

This is a great idea. Count me in.

Obviously you want the monolith to be as large as possible. The ultimate limit for this would be the size of the payload fairing on the launch vehicle. The weight of the monolith itself would actually be fairly small since it would just be a decorative shell. Probably around several hundred pounds for something ranging in size from a passenger car to a school bus. I would recommend carbon-carbon since that will be very black and should stay black for a very long time. Just painting a metal shell black wouldn’t last very long due to micrometeorite erosion on the lunar surface. The next trick would be to put the propellant and oxidizer tanks, presumably cylindrical, for the descent engine inside the monolith.

You don’t want the thing to fall down once it reaches the surface so it is going to need some sort of base. I would suggest basing the entire landing machinery on the Apollo Descent Stage but made to look more decorative and monumental. Something like the stairs around the Jefferson Memorial. I would suggest five landing legs because, unlike four, if one fails to deploy it won’t fall over. The landing legs should have individual jacking mechanisms so, after landing, the monolith can be made level even if the ground is sloping.

The landing vehicle must have a deployable rover. I am thinking of something comparable in size to the Sojourner rover used on Mars. The rover has to have a really good camera. The reason is that you have to get pictures. If you don’t get pictures it didn’t happen.

The landing site should be near the equator of the moon near the side. The reason for this is that in the pictures you want to see the moon, the monolith, and the Earth just a bit above the horizon all in the frame. If you landed near the middle of the moon the Earth would be overhead and wouldn’t be in the picture.

$500 million probably is a good starting estimate on cost. About half of this would be needed for the launcher and half for the monolith/lander.

Just ask Elon Musk how much it costs and have him work out the details.

Just ask Elon Musk how much it costs and have him work out the details.

Guys, the 2001 monolith was there for a reason. It was buried underground, emitting a strong magnetic field that could only be detected by a space-faring civilization.

Then, as soon as it was illuminated by the Sun, it sent a strong radio signal to Jupiter, which leads to the Jupiter mission.

It was not a simple decorative piece.

Build a monolit-shaped spaceship… No waste -less cost.

Build a monolit-shaped spaceship. Less cost - less waste.

Build a monolit-shaped spaceship. Less cost - less waste.

sorry for the tripple post - recaptcha showed me 3 times that I typed in the wrong words.

To all the naysayers, with comments like “use the $$ for something useful”:

Open up your imagination — this is useful, and one of the best uses of half a billion I can think of.
(caveat: I fly satellites for a living, so I am clearly biased).

Landing *anything* on the moon is damned difficult, and at the moment, the experience of having done so is limited to only a few rather cloistered halls. This type of project can serve as a seed, an inspiration, a stepping stone to much broader public participation in space.

I firmly believe that humanity needs to venture into space, en masse, for many reasons. If we wait around for national space agencies to take us there, we will never get out of earth orbit. And the first steps are always the hardest because everything needs to be tested and tried out — you don’t send humans up right away, just too risky.
Let this serve as an inspiration *and* a test flight for space activity outside the space agencies and behemoth companies. Let it foster the growth of companies like SpaceX & Virgin Galactic; and generate public interest and participation.

And hey, count me in to the effort — I’ll lend my skills in astrodynamics & project management.

Can you imagine, in 200-300 years, if spaceflight has become common, how cool it would be to have a monolith as one of the two “first sites” to visit to see the beginnings of the expansion into space?
(Apollo 11 landing site the other, of course.)

after mulling on it for a few minutes, I note the following:

If you prefer to think of it this way: companies send up dummy payloads all the time to test rockets. This is essentially a dummy payload to the moon — but with great inspirational power!

And, you would have no shortage of people with experience willing to work on the project. I personally know several engineers who have already sent spacecraft around the moon, and I think many of them could be recruited. Mfg & testing facilities is the real question - but a solvable one, I think. — and then you have a tested transport system to carry payload to the moon. Ah, the possibilities are exciting!

This is very doable. Half a billion seems like a reasonable first-cut estimate (said after thinking about it for 10 minutes).

I hope the delivery mission will be named Arthur.

Or more properly, Sir Arthur.

For that matter, I’d like to see a great big longsword stuck fast in the top of this stone.

I hope the delivery mission will be named Arthur.

Or more properly, Sir Arthur.

For that matter, I’d like to see a great big longsword stuck fast in the top of this stone.

every geek knows that the monolith’s proportion is in the ratio 1 : 4 : 9 and so your rendition is too tall by ~30 pixel!!

I have a roughly 11’ slab in my bedroom called a bed. So far it has not attracted any major funding… Perhaps my marketing methods need work!

My point is that the 2001 monolith was note worthy because it was not of terrestrial construction. I’m thinking to create something of a spectacle, you would need to create something spectacular! Make the monolith of monolithic proportions!

I would suggest development of a lunar payload delivery system (High altitude balloon with a rocket propelled cargo sled that could detach in the upper atmosphere)? That could deliver 2-3 construction robots and some sort of cementicious catalysis and a 1’x1’ form.

One robot could be tasked with set up and tear down of the form. Another could gather suitable lunar soil, a third could mix the soil with the catalysis, fill and tamp the form (basically the lunar equivalent of a rammed earth wall).

Using this method, your little construction bots could go about building away anything you want until they expired or ran out of cement/binder.

This would serve to advance mans reach into space significantly by developing the technology and proof of methods for a practical lunar payload delivery system, and to establish low cost lunar construction techniques that could eventually be used to build landing sites, facilities, and possibly even bio-domes or other habitable structures.

Donors names could be etched or carved into the monolith walls.

I bet if you etched donators names into the monolith, (maybe they could pay per character) that you could really sell this thing to the little people.

The 11-foot dimension may not actually be a problem, so long as the monolith is inflatable. Bigelow Aerospace is notable for putting inflatable comsats into orbit, and is working on inflatable space stations; looking into how they did it might be a good way of determining whether or not it’s feasible to put an 11 foot inflatable monolith on Virgin’s lander. If you wait a while it may be possible to use some of the printable bendable conductive-polymer photovoltaics and circuits, and have an inflatable solar-powered radio transmitter (perhaps with solar-powered LED ‘stars’ on the inside).

Why don’t you etch the names of the backers on the monolith.. that’d be good incentive!

Most of the initial funding would need to go towards developing a coating that would remain matt black under the harsh hard radiation and micrometerites that regularly bombard the surface of the moon. Other than that, a hollow carbon fibre composite cuboid (i.e. REALLY LIGHT) flung from LEO the the moon is not too much harder than getting the hollow carbon fibre composite cuboid to LEO in the first place. Space-X can do that for under $60 million, so tack on the same again for safety, double it again for luck, and add another $10 million for miscellaneous R&D, and you’ve done it for half your original estimate.

I’m all for it as long as the monolith has the following carved on to it in tiny letters:

“The Game”

Thought it would be fun to send a full sized monolith to the moon, sending something made of, say, Marble, wouldn’t be practical considering it weights > 4 metric tonnes.

What you could do it send a robot to the moon which would build a monolith from the rocks which are already there..

Serious, where is the link to the crowdsource?

The ideal proof of participation would be a device inside the monolith like RFID or NFC which would contain and transmit the names and e-mail addresses of the supporters!

It’s got my vote; notify me when the Kickstart link is live!

I would put something useful in that monolith, not some flashy lights or multimedia show or Britney Spears pictures… A backup plan in case we failed on Earth? DNA sequences? Or some scientific experimentation?

We should only do it if we can have a big party where we listen to modernist symphonies and beat on the ground with sticks and yell like monkeys. It could be a fundraiser. I would pay $100 to go to that party. Twice.

how about digging a big hole and tossing a half billion dollars in and lighting it on fire but make sure you waste a half billion working hours of time doing it? it would be just as useful.

you people are narcissistic idiots.

There are private for reals space rockets… maybe the simplest thing is to find out the dimensions the payload area can support, make a scale representation that fits, make the ‘bottom’ sharp and just aim it (well, what with orbits and trajectories and the hey, hey, hey) where you want it to land. It can plant itself in the regolith lawn-dart style.

Well if you want to put this up on the moon let me know, Here is an idea why not get funding for a small company that is developing tech to put something in space 1 million dollars can buy you great engineering and then forget only the monolith also if a rover is put in the moon you get 30mil back. If you have good pockets let me know.

First off let me say that this is a lot harder than it looks, then again so is pretty much anything. After all “the Moon is a harsh mistress.”

Ignoring the obvious challenges of getting there, there are non-obvious, nontrivial problems of the monolith simply existing on the moon.

For one, our monolith’s black and we’re probably not going to put it in a permanently shadowed region, so sunlight will heat it up. How hot? We’ll have to do the calculations, but at the very least thermal expansion/contraction could be an issue. If we make our monolith of polymer, the polymer will have to take the heat.

Second, our monolith has to stand up to moonquakes. These tend to be 4.5-5.5 on the richter scale, last from 30 minutes to an hour, and occur around 5 times a year. And all that we know about them comes from a couple of seismometers left behind by the moon missions. Plus we have no idea what happens on the lunar surface during a moonquake.

Third, we really don’t understand dirt(or regolith as we engineers call it). Simple tasks like moving dirt around aren’t reliable enough to be done by autonomous/teleoperated robots on the Moon. At the current time, it’s pretty much impossible to predict the properties of powdered substances reliably, which means our lunar monolith maker/monolith hole digger/foundation maker or earthly ore processing plant could spontaneously jam or break(as earthly ore processing plants often do).

However, choosing the “build the monolith on the moon” route would be beneficial for future exploration and even colonization of the Moon. Building the monolith on the moon means building the monolith from regolith, which as it turns out, happens to be matte black when you sinter(in laymans terms heat up so it “sticks together”, but doesn’t melt) it. Sintered regolith, as it is called would make an excellent construction material for lunar habitats and other lunar structures, but no one’s ever made it before(unless of course you count boring ol’ lunar simulant).

The automated or even teleoperated construction of a rudimentary structure like a monolith on the moon would be useful for advancing technology needed for future lunar/outerspace construction and even industries down on here on Earth.

So sure it’s hard, but as John Kennedy said it best: “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard…”

Make the monolith the fuel tank :)

Hey, good news! The folks over in Sweden who want to put a little red house on the moon (link above) figure they can do it for 500 million Swedish krona, which is only 75 million US dollars. I bet we can do the monolith for a similar amount.

The idea is novel. Depending on what you consider a ‘monolith’, you could launch a typical rocket from earth. Once in orbit, the upper stage could break away a fairing / aeroshell to reveal a rectangular ‘monolith’ (containing rocket and landing hardware inside - which would then head to the moon and soft land somewhere - giving the appearance of a monolithic ‘block’. A true ‘monolith’ (ie like a block of concrete) would be much harder to land, or construct on the moon.

Overall, though, the idea doesn’t ‘do much’ for me. No one would see the thing from earth, there is already human hardware on the moon, so it’s not really ‘new’, etc.

Ideas I would pay for:

A large solar sail / geometric shape in earth orbit. The entire population of the planet could gaze on it and reflect on humanity.

Another ‘suit sat’ type project.

A satellite where users/donors could ‘log in’ and take control to get pictures from space.

A similar rover on the moon where donors could log in and control it.

Resurrect an abandon project - a satellite to orbit, then release hundreds/thousands of paper airplanes which would theoretically survive re-entry and be found back on earth.

A satellite to release some type of vapor / chemical forming an artificial comet - again visible to the entire planet for a few days.

Anyway - just a few thoughts

If we’re going to do this, let’s get real. Let’s make it the size of the Washington Monument. I want to be able to see this thing from Earth with a telescope.

Go big or go home!

This is a great idea, I think.

I think using jacks and legs to keep it upright on the surface is an example of over-engineering, though.

You could construct it so that it’s heaviest on the bottom so that it would descend with that side downward, and have a separate base piece (a flat, sturdy plane with supports extending from the edges to points a little farther up the structure) which would be at the top during descent. As it approaches the surface, the base (still at the top) can fire engine bursts downward to stabilize it if necessary and to slow the descent, and when it finally hits the ground, the base piece would slide downward toward the base of the actual monolith, guided by grooves in the sides, to hit the moon’s surface and begin to serve as a permanent support structure to prevent the monolith from falling down as time passes.

Dunno if that’s easy to understand or reasonable as a solution or not, but what the hell.

Lets get a bit realistic. You need less then 1kg shipment to put the monolith with all the necessary electronics to control. You just use nano-fiber (or whatever) baloon, inflate with a little bit of air and you have it.
Second option - we have NASA and other agencies, that would like to have some stable instruments there. Why not to share the price - you supply the case, they will supply in electronics.

1 : 4 : 9 - what is the actual TV screen format? May be TV set with neverendig soap opera on moon. This would be a big difficulty for aliens and maybe the best protection against an alien attack.

I’m afraid I can’t let you do that, Dave.

If you really wanted to do this, a better solution would be to design an build a robot that could construct the monolith on the moon itself. Without further research I imagine a small robot that collects solar energy and lunar dust, heats the dust to create a brick, places the brick, rinse and repeat. It could be seen as an interesting test bed for automated construction for a lunar base. With the right design the robot might only way a hundred kilos or so which you might be able to add to an existing mission as a legitimate technology test bed.

Great idea.

Our White Label Space GLXP team will take it there for you… but it should be a white monolith, less than 10kg in mass and we should be allowed to project ads onto its surface.

Under those conditions, the price will be very favorable! :)

Dude, NASA recently sent a probe to the moon, to impact with the moon and collect data from the debris. Contact NASA, ask them how much did that cost. Next usually a satellite weights around 1000kg - so if you make the monolith weight about the same - the cost will be the same. And if it’s strong enough - it will survive a direct impact with the moon. So delivery to the surface would be non-existent.
If this plan works, you can just pay NASA to develop the plan, and calculate the mission so that it delivers the Monolith in the required position and orientation on the Moon’s surface.
And if NASA want to piggyback on it and deliver some other equipment on the moon, or monitor the crash-delivery of the Monolith with the moon surface - you can share the trip cost.

I bet we could get ThinkGeek to donate one of these. It’s a workable size.


While the idea of a monolith is amusing, it would make a lot more sense to put something up there that has some more specific meaning; namely, inscribe your monolith (aluminum would be good) with a primer to the English language followed the history of our species, culture, religion, wars, accomplishments, mistakes and successes - it should at least be honest and accurate. That way if we go extinct, there’ll at least be something to remember us by.

I’ve just had a brain-wave. Instead of a monolith how about launching 3 earth orbiting satellites - each would have cameras both pointing earth bound as well as out into space - in this way ‘we the people’ could really find out what governments are up to and answer the question (ourselves) are we alone? - is anyone out there? The video feeds from the satellites could be streamed on the web 24/7 allowing everyone a chance to see what’s really going on. As a guess of the costs I would say; $50 million for launch (SpaceX), $50 mill a piece for each satellite and another $75 million for ground stations - total $275 million. I mean lets face it the governments of the world are never going to let us know what’s really going on even though we provide the taxes to keep them running.

Okay look. I love the optimistic tone. I kinda like the idea in general, but not if it’s gonna take HALF A BILLION DOLLARS.

Here’s what we should be doing: If you’re going to send something to the moon, make it worthwhile. I propose this: a network simple, basic science stations set up all across the globe of the moon. Say….half a dozen of these at strategic locations and you’ve got a constant presence on the moon. Equipped with the usual arsenal of seismometers and spectrometers expected for a planetary mission (but heavily pared down for a low budget) along with an HD stereoscopic camera mounted on a movable mast for streaming views of the lunar surface to inspire people back home. All these landers packed into one orbiter (to eliminate the need for multiple launches) that would eject the individual landers after lunar orbital insertion.

This would create a long-term active science sensor network all across the planet, much like what we’ve inadvertently created on Mars with the two MER rovers and it would inspire people back on Earth with live views from the HD cams (which could be aimed at Earth if so desired!) as well as the knowledge that the whole endeavor was funded by donations. The price could be kept to a minimum by using only the most basic parts and focusing most of the cost on the philosophy of “get something with a camera on it on the moon”.

So who’s with me?

Before I can commit to donating anything towards this I require a back view of this monolith as well so I can fully understand the vision that will be constructed.

I see a couple of commenters want the monolith to be ‘full of stars’. Actually that was the Jupiter monolith, not the Moon one.
And as a couple of people already pointed out, we don’t really need to send a rock to the Moon. The Moon is made of rock, and I’m sure a robot could find some that’s black enough and chisel it into shape.

Well if the mighty Kickstarter isn’t interested then my site would be weighted to support such massive fruitless campaign on http://ifund.ie


“Geeks” are some of the most materialistic, impractical, vain, and senseless people on the fucking planet. Conceive what would be the largest grass-roots campaign in history, and direct it at a space mission to pay homage to a decades-old science fiction film? What the fuck is wrong with you people? How about using all that money as seed capital for developing an alternative economy that doesn’t destroy the lives of the world’s impoverished along with the environment? Oh, I’m sorry, that doesn’t satisfy your lust for childish, kitschy bullshit.