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#Andy Weir, whose debut novel “#The Martian” was a runaway bestseller and the basis of a hit movie, is due to release his second book, “Artemis,” on November 14. “Artemis” is set on a #Lunar Colony and is a slightly different story than “The Martian.” Weir sat down with Business Insider recently and discussed, among other things, the economics of colonizing the high frontier of space.

Colonizing the moon first rather than Mars makes more sense

Weir disagreed with space visionaries such as Elon Musk that a colony on Mars makes practical sense. Mars is not only months away but does not have any economic incentive to send thousands of people across a hundred million miles.

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The moon, on the other hand, has the advantages of proximity and with resources that can be used to start an economy.

The economic basis of a lunar colony would be tourism

Weir sets up the background of the moon colony in “Artemis” which also sets up his story. In the 2080s, the primary industry of Artemis, the name of the colony as well as the title of the book, is tourism. The cost of space travel has gone down by this point so that rich people can fly to the moon and spend a few days to a week enjoying the amenities of a lunar resort, which includes guided hikes outside in space suits and a visit to one of the Apollo landing sites. Weir even suggests that middle-class people can afford a lunar vacation as a once in a lifetime experience for which they save over several years/

To be sure, some of the other industries that one expects to be the basis of a lunar economy, also exist, though mining the moon is primarily done by robots.

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Most of the permanent inhabitants of the moon are the sort of people who service the tourist industry, guides, bartenders, and, in the case of the main character of the novel, a full-time porter part-time smuggler.

(Minor spoiler follows.) A fascinating aspect of Weir’s scenario for lunar colonization is that Kenya is the country that gets it started, mainly by passing laws that encourage space commercialization. People who go to the moon depart from a launch facility in East Africa. Thus, Kenya becomes a significant economic power in the latter part of this century. Weir is suggesting that commercial space will be the basis of economic growth and job creation. The countries that benefit the most will not necessarily be the economic superpowers of the beginning of the 21st Century, such as the United States and China. Let the gentle reader mull over that.