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08-20-2015, 06:45 PM   #1
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Solve the problems surrounding the creation of a moon outpost.

While the discussion over in the interstellar travel thread is going on and on (more to the improbabilities than potential), I thought it would make for a nice break to bring up something much more feasible. A moon outpost. There are tons of problems in the potential creation of such an outpost, but the ability to solve these issues is much greater (even if there isn't much reason to do so). At the very least, it would make a nice destination to see earth, or to get some relief from gravity's effects on the joints/bones.

The first order of business will be to identify the key problems (not money or geopolitical motivation... we'll just assume it's there, so that we can focus on the issues that need to be overcome), with this potential project of mankind. The second order should be to figure out which problems will be the easiest to overcome and come up with solutions. Then for the third order, we can work on the more problematic issues. Humorous posts are fine, just try to keep the topic from straying too far off track.

08-20-2015, 07:05 PM   #2

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The first problem I can see with building a station on the moon is building materials and the transportation of said materials. What type of materials would you build it out of? Would metal panels or some sort of plastic be better?

What about transporting the materials to the moon. Which would be better a space truck (shuttle) or unmanned cargo drones?

I think a cargo drone would be a feasible idea, but the weight of the payload would also need to be taken into account.
08-20-2015, 10:56 PM   #3
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Scientists and nasa (as well as many colleges) are working on small scale builder drones to make building blocks out of the soil on the moon. So if they succeed, then at least some of the building material would be local source. Plastics are not a good idea for building material in any environment where they'll be exposed to UV. UV makes plastics brittle and will cause them to fail eventually. This is part of the reason why reclaimed plastic found floating in the ocean can't be used for much. Plastics WOULD be a viable option for anything not exposed to UV, however.... this can include pipes, internal structural beams, etc... The dirt on the moon is very fine and seems to seep into everything, but there is the possibility of melting it down into a form of glass, which could potentially be used for varying things.

Last edited by Auzzie-Phoenix; 08-20-2015 at 10:57 PM. Reason: fixing a typo
08-21-2015, 12:03 PM   #4
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Something similar to the Mars One idea?

08-21-2015, 12:52 PM - 2 Likes   #5
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Pentax is.... moooooned!

Sorry, had to get this off my chest :-D
08-21-2015, 04:55 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by bertwert Quote
Something similar to the Mars One idea?
I somehow doubt inflatable structures are the future of lunar or other habitation.... think about it.... can't even get an air mattress to stay inflated overnight, you gonna trust an air tent to keep you alive in no atmosphere?
09-08-2015, 02:37 PM   #7
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I think part of the solution will be to create the outpost underground. This will provide some shielding from radiation as well as UV, so that materials like plastics can be used. Easier to construct as well, and less potential for damage from outside sources. The two largest hurdles that I can think of will be water and oxygen. If the moon has ice, water won't be as much of an issue. Oxygen generation though will require a lot of water as well as a lot of electricity. There's no way to create a system where plants will provide enough oxygen. However, plants can be used to offset some of the food requirement, as well as to scrub some of the carbon dioxide in the air. Add O2 scrubber systems to remove more carbon dioxide.

Another issue will be location. The dark side of the moon would be too cold for continual habitation and waste energy to heat the outpost. The bright side of the moon might get hot... but has the advantage of receiving plenty of light to set up solar arrays. If the structure is underground, then the heat issue might be mitigated. Another problem that comes to mind is waste management. Hefty water reclamation/treatment from waste water will be needed, as well as hefty recycling to reduce the constant need for new material. Biological waste can be used as fertilizer for plants as reclaimed from the waste water, or burned as fuel for heat/electricity generation.
09-08-2015, 08:54 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Auzzie-Phoenix Quote
Another issue will be location. The dark side of the moon would be too cold for continual habitation and waste energy to heat the outpost. The bright side of the moon might get hot... but has the advantage of receiving plenty of light to set up solar arrays. .


There is no dark, or bright, side of the Moon. The insides of some craters at the poles may be in perpetual darkness, only.

09-08-2015, 10:17 PM   #9
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First order of business is to ask, "What are we going back for?"
09-09-2015, 05:52 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by MD Optofonik Quote
First order of business is to ask, "What are we going back for?"
Good question.
You have not seen the Apollo 18?

Last edited by Ex Finn.; 09-09-2015 at 06:05 PM.
09-10-2015, 05:16 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by MD Optofonik Quote
First order of business is to ask, "What are we going back for?"
It's not "we" it's they.
Considering the problems my planet is facing the last thing I'm worrying about is the moon - first things first.
09-10-2015, 05:33 PM - 1 Like   #12
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Building a permanently manned outpost on the moon is not only an intriguing problem but quite possibly an imperative one for us. Just like many of the problems of Europe before the discovery of the Americas the answers were not discovered in Europe but in the Americas. Just as likely many of the solutions for today’s problems cannot be found here but only when we go someplace else. The solutions may be from someplace else or simply from the ability to look back and see the problems from a different perspective.

You really must decide why you are going there. Why determines what you will be doing and this will determine the how.

2 examples of this are if you’re going to mine HE3 or are you going to use it as a staging post to go further out into the solar system.

If you’re going to mine HE3 to help solve the world’s power problems you will probably want your outpost to be someplace along the lunar equator on one of its vast open dusty plains. This means you will have relatively 2 weeks of intense sunlight followed by approximately 2 weeks of near total darkness. At times the sun will be directly above your habitat. You will have to worry more about shielding from solar storms. There are basically 2 ways to do this the 1st would be to bury your habitat using the available materials. The 2nd would be to use some kind of magnetic shielding which would most likely require a great deal of power. Fortunately for the 2nd one at the time you would need the most power is also when you’d have the most direct sunlight.

For the other example, having a staging post to go further out into the solar system you would most likely be looking for a different material. The most useful material would be large quantities of water. The most likely source of this material would be at the lunar poles. Vast quantities of water have been located at these locations. This water could be turned into rocket fuel or just water to live off of. The advantage of being at the polls is that your shielding becomes much simpler. There are locations that are in perpetual darkness. These happen to be also the same places where the vast quantities of water are located. So very little additional shielding would be needed from the sun. As to where you get your power from you could use a nuclear power source or on some of the high mountain tops they are also in perpetual sunlight. You could build your solar collection station on one of these mountaintops.

For either solution your 1st habitats would probably be the Bigelow inflatable habitats. One of these habitats has been in orbit around Earth for years and shows no sign of any adverse leakage. A small test article for human habitation is scheduled to be launched soon to the international space station for multiyear tests.

The actual problems of long-term habitation on the moon are actually some of the simplest problems to be overcome. They are essentially engineering with multiple possible solutions primarily depending on your price points and time frames.

The real problems is getting the stuff up to the moon. Because of the nature of the rocket equation the farther up the gravity well you go there is an almost logarithmically increase in the costs and difficulties. This is why rockets have payloads are only 5 to 1% of their starting weights. To have a realistic chance of doing anything on the moon you must drastically bring down the costs of getting things into space. The costs of getting into orbit have been said to be about 70% of the costs of going anyplace in the solar system including the moon.

For decades many people have talked about reducing the costs of getting payloads into space. But like the weather it is something that is talked about quite a bit but very few have done anything about it. The closest and to date most successful of having any kind of radical reduction in cost has been the company SpaceX. They have already reduce the costs by approximately a factor of 2 and are looking to reduce those costs still further to approximately 10 times less. Using SpaceX present rock and the Falcon 9 it is just not reasonable to send a payload to the moon. Using their soon to be produced Falcon 9R heavy it would be possible to send payloads to the moon. Even with the reusable version of this rocket the payloads are still too small and the costs are still too great for any kind of realistic long-term manned lunar habitat.

SpaceX is looking further into the future than just their falcon 9 system. They wish to produce a much bigger rocket than even the mighty Saturn 5 for now only referred to as the BFR. B stands for big and are stands for rocket you can fill in the F for yourself. SpaceX’s intention for this BFR is to use it as part of their system for long-term colonization of Mars. There is no reason why this BFR can’t be used to put an outpost on the moon. In fact there are many reasons why the BFR would be even more suitable for this than the long-term colonization of Mars.

Once you have these large payloads in Earth orbit your next problem becomes how to get them to lunar orbit. For this you must break down your payloads into 2 distinct types. People would be one type of payload and all cargo that is not time sensitive would be the 2nd type. The 2nd type you could make solar electric tugs which could take months to get your payloads to the moon and back but would be very efficient. To get people you’d probably want to do this much faster and greatly reduce their radiation exposure so these would be smaller but faster chemical rocket systems.

So to recap you’ll need to start literally on earth with a rocket system to get into orbit. Than what you put on the moon will depend on what you intend to do their which in turn will determine what it looks like.

Last edited by DAZ; 09-10-2015 at 05:57 PM.
09-14-2015, 03:41 AM   #13
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You just need a variety of 3D printers equipped with wifi and a WiFi-to-earth comms unit deposited in a suitable locale. As long as the printers can, between them, print spare parts for each other, you can eventually build whatever required.
09-14-2015, 09:18 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by MD Optofonik Quote
First order of business is to ask, "What are we going back for?"
There were several Hasselblads left behind. That should be reason enough!

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