I am a space advocate and a writer, and I have written and rewritten a book (not yet published, but I hope it will be) about establishing a Moon Base, to evolve into a city, and then a civilization. I've also attended many conferences on space exploration and development, and at some of these, I have had the privilege of meeting Rich Tumlinson, one of the editors of this book.
This is an excellent book on returning to the Moon and staying there permanently, giving all sorts of reasons how and why, and the many benefits we will derive from it, including, of course, money. That would be the main driver for anything. Before going any further, I would like to point out that this book was published in 2005, and includes subjects that are no longer valid, such as George W. Bush's proposal to return to the Moon in an Apollo like fashion (the Vision for Space Exploration), that has since been cancelled. Other topics mentioned in the book no longer apply, and the book does need to be revised and updated, but it is a book worth buying and reading nonetheless. After my review here, you will see why.
Space technology is talked about, among many other subjects pertaining to settling and developing the Moon. There is the why of space, the expansion of human civilization, and Economics. In economics, mining the moon is mentioned for the valuable minerals for use in both space and Earth, among them Helium-3 for fusion reactors, but only after nuclear fusion is developed. Other minerals would be Iron, Platinum Group Metals, more common up there then on Earth, Magnesium, even water in the form of ice. Water would be valuable, but mostly for splitting into hydrogen and oxygen, to be used for fuel for spacecraft. A whole category of space ships and space stations, some orbiting the Moon, and a space infrastructure of getting to the Moon from Earth, and how that should be developed, are also mentioned.
This could also benefit Earth in the sense that our natural resources down here would be conserved, and pollution from mining and manufacturing would diminish, even stop. Earth would start to clean itself.
Don't forget space tourism. Tourism in sub-orbital space, Low Earth Orbit (LEO), and then the Moon may become the first big money making industry in space involving the general public, and this may lead to a migration of humans to the Moon, Mars, and space settlements. As I have mentioned, mining the Moon, and asteroids, would help to build industries in space to manufacture other space habitats. Energy from space would be unlimited via solar power satellites.
Space philosophy and law are also included, telling the "why" of space in a spiritual sense, and also what laws exist, why they exist, all for the good of everyone and every nation that decides to go up there.
Many ask why we should go up there when there are so many problems here on Earth. This book, in a way, answers the question. The human race is overpopulating the Earth, using up its resources, and we need a pressure valve to free ourselves from the confines of this planet. Since we are running out of resources here, and there are infinite resources up there in the Moon, planets, asteroids, and beyond, instead of fighting over what's left here in the form of wars, we can venture up there, mined these bodies, and provided for everyone here; "Make the pie bigger!"
In reading this book, it is mentioned, and many have said, that if we had continued on after Apollo more ambitiously, instead of cutting back and ending up with the shuttle and a very expensive space station, that we would be on Mars by now. I use to think the same thing, but now I disagree. First, in reading this book, you find the true function of NASA and any other government run space program. The Apollo Moon program was good for its time, but it could not have lasted forever. First, it was completely sponsored by the U.S. government, and in a way, it was a socialist run space program, paid for with you tax dollars, nothing else. Private industry had no say in the matter. They couldn't, and in that time, they had no interest in pursuing space on its own. There were big plans for space after Apollo, such as the Space Task Group in 1969 and the Apollo Applications Programs. In general, this would mean building bigger space ships, moon bound ships, a giant space station holding 50 or 100 people, and a Moon base holding from six to twelve people (some say even 50), with an eventual trip to Mars. There's just one problem. This would have run into the hundreds of billions of dollars, and considering the budgets we had back then, with the burden of Vietnam (and later Watergate) along with social programs, this would not have held. Enthusiasm from the public has waned and it started doing so during the Apollo Moon Landings. Congress and the public, seeing a few people on a Moon base, with no signs of it getting bigger and more inclusive would wonder why we are doing this, as literally billions, even hundreds of billions of their tax dollars would continue to fund it with few, if any returns. No, they would no have tolerated it, and Congress would have cut back little by little, until the Moon base, if we made it that far, would have been cancelled. We never would have made it to Mars.
Also remember that settling space and making cheap rockets was never part of NASAs agenda. Each of these multiple projects would have been very expensive, with no intention of cheapening it. Look at the International Space Station. Originally, it was to cost $8 billion, but with the constant changes in structure, it ended up costing over $100 billion. This would have been the same story with anything else, times five (or more). Our government, or any other government for that matter, would not have been able, or willing to do this. No, if we had continued after Apollo with ambitious programs, they would have been cut back, then cancelled, and we would still be where we are now. In other words, it would not have made any difference. What we can do is learn from the path that we did take (Skylab, Shuttle, the ISS).
Being where we are is not such a bad thing, because now, private industries are taking interest and gearing up for the challenge: SpaceX, Sierra Nevada, Boeing, Orbital Sciences Corporation, to name a few companies. They are lowing launch costs, some to 0.1 percent of the government. Many are looking even further, with orbiting space hotels, lunar factories, even settlements on Mars all at a fraction of the cost of the government. When the new world was being colonized, it was sponsored by the British government, but they were not the ones who paid for it. Private companies did, with some government subsidies. It will be the same thing here. Private companies are now about to move in, but the government will subsidize this for a while, and that is really the cheapest way to do it. Costs DO matter!
This is why this book is highly recommended. It mentions all of this in great detail, along with space law. Space law does exist, and that's good, because no one country can colonize these planets, but private entities can come in and mine them. This would prevent war and allow us to settle space peacefully.
Anyway, everything is mentioned: Apollo history, space law, space entrepreneurship, examples of settling North America from U.S. history and applying it to the present, how to exploit the minerals and generate a multi-trillion dollar economy, it's all there.
I recommend for the authors to update this book, but I also recommend that you read it now. It will influence your way of thinking!