Walking, broadcasting, and selling real estate on the moon--it's been done. But serving up Web pages from that big hunk of green cheese in the sky--now that's a new one.
Of all the comments filed about the U.S. Net domain name proposal, a handful stood out for the sheer reach of their suggestion: to expand the system beyond its earthly home.
The idea is simple: the right to register the top-level domains ".luna" and ".moon" should be given exclusively to the first company that secures an Internet server on the moon. Pulling it off, however, could be a bit more complicated and expensive.
"By expanding this profitable paradigm to the moon, the Internet can help pave the way by encouraging the creation of the first profitable business on the moon: the transportation and/or storage of data to and from any point on the earth," wrote Gregory Nemitz, who first floated the idea.
He wasn't kidding.
A member of the National Space Society and a special projects manager for International Space Enterprises, Nemitz and others see real potential. The San Diego company for which he works is building planet rovers called Frontier Voyagers, which are similar to NASA's Mars explorer, Sojourner.
"It's absolutely a serious idea," he said today. "If we were successful in putting our rovers on the moon, we would put a server on the moon, too--but it could take $150 million [to get there]."
The moon is 240,250 miles from the earth, so there could be a slight delay in serving up information, however. "There would be about a three-second round-trip delay for the signal to go back and forth," Nemitz noted.
Other Netizens and futurists echoed Nemitz's request to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). The agency is now reviewing all public input on the Commerce Department's plan to transfer control of the domain name system from the government to the private sector.
Two people claiming to be with the Artemis Project--an organization that wants to establish a self-supporting community on the moon--also endorsed the idea.
"I for one would like to support the creation of a '.luna' domain. In times to come, the designation '.moon' could be considered ambiguous," advised a person simply called "Vik."
In the spirit of Net capitalism, others see it purely as a business opportunity.
"While this idea sounds a bit science-fictionish at first glance, it is technically feasible now, and should become economically feasible within a few years," wrote Joseph Strout, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in Neuroscience at the University of California at San Diego.
"The server would be launched with a rocket and landed there, just like the dozens of landers already on the moon," he said today. "Since the near side of the moon always faces the earth, a relatively simple transceiver dish could be used to transmit and receive data.
"Once someone does manage to land a station, however, it will have an extremely coveted domain," he added.