For decades, engaged participants in the space industry have been looking to the future, and within that future, to the viability of large-scale human colonies in the near and far reaches of space. Early ideas were science fiction, but engineering and ingenuity have caught up with the ambitious hopes of a spacefaring civilization.
Around 2005 an illustration of a domed lunar city 25 miles in diameter and 5,000 feet tall over Shackleton Crater began circulating in briefings at aerospace conferences. At first glance, this domed community seemed structurally impossible. However, materials such as basalt fibers and S-glass, among others, could make this type of structure possible.
Shackleton is an impact crater that lies at the south pole of the Moon. The peaks along the crater's rim are exposed to almost continual sunlight, while the interior is perpetually in shadow. The low-temperature interior of this crater functions as a cold trap that may capture and freeze volatilesshed during comet impacts on the Moon. Measurements by the Lunar Prospector spacecraft showed higher than normal amounts of hydrogenwithin the crater, which may indicate the presence of water ice. The crater is named after Ernest Shackleton, a noted Anglo-Irish explorer of theAntarctic.
David Schrunk thinks a mountain top is a good place for a lunar base and we will have to start small before enough resources will become available to build a dome.
- LRK -
The best place to land is, of course, the summit of Mons Malapert. It's the most valuable piece of real estate on the Moon = 80% or more sunlight availability for nearly continuous solar power and reduced thermal stress, and 100% Earth visibility for continuous communications. -- David Schrunk
Some info on the Mons Malapert proposal - way back in 2008 when we thought we might go back to the Moon, you know, before the been there, done that. :-(
NASA’s present plans call for returning humans to the Moon sometime before 2020 and establishing a permanent lunar outpost there. This base will have several purposes. First, it will be a central station from which to resume robotic and manned exploration of large areas of the Moon. Second, it will allow the Moon itself to serve as a base for study of the universe by accommodating astronomical instruments such as radio and optical telescopes, eventually in interferometric arrays. Third, through the process of its construction and operation, the base will provide valuable experience for Martian exploration (although allowance must be made for the different environment of Mars). Fourth, the outpost will allow development of the ability to use lunar resources for sustaining and expanding human operations in space. This capability, called in-situ resource utilization, will be a key factor in the development of future large-scale interplanetary missions.
April 30 – May 6, 2012 / Vol 31, No 18 / Hawai`i Island, USA
USA Moon South Pole: Pioneering the Space Frontier
The most promising near-term 21st Century opportunity for Space robotic exploration and science, as well as for permanent Human habitation lies at the Moon South Pole. Mons Malapert offers a “peak of eternal light” for power generation and continuous line-of-sight communications with Earth; Aitken Basin, the largest known impact crater in the Solar System, offers extraordinary opportunities for planetary science, technology, resources; Shackleton, Cabeus, and other permanently shadowed craters, offer the possibility of in situ water extraction / utilization for life-support and propulsion.
With a US government commitment in 2012, NASA could have a robotic lander at the Moon South Pole in 1-2 years for $200-300 million dollars. Leadership in efforts to establish the ‘cis-lunar super highway’ will give rise to great benefits for American 21st Century science, education, commerce, and resource development. Neil deGrasse Tyson remarks, “The foundations of economies… issue forth from investments we make in science and technology.” One small step on the Moon decades ago cannot quench the human thirst for exploration, or dull the exciting prospects offered by establishment of humanity as a multi-world species. In 1911 the Earth South Pole was first explored by Humans – now a 100 years later, after 44 years of continuous habitation, there are ~4000 people from ~30 countries doing innovative and critical scientific research in Antarctica. (Image Credit:NASA)
Now I will have to read again "The Moon - Resources, Future Development, and Settlement, Second Edition
This successor edition will be lengthened, drawing on the latest satellite data to emphasize the power potential and communications advantages of Malapert Mountain in the South Polar region of the Moon, being the optimum location for the establishment of the first lunar base. It will follow the same theme as THE MOON 1st edition: concepts of space exploration from the Moon and discussions of Earth benefits will be expanded. A colour section depicting graphic images will be added in the 2nd edition and the number of appendices will be reduced. The Moon - Challenge and Benefits of Settlement tells the story of the feasible transformation of the Moon into an inhabited sister planet of the Earth in the coming century. Beginning with small-scale, tele-operated and autonomous robotic in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) projects, electric power, communication, and transportation networks could be manufactured from lunar resources. These infrastructure networks would be field-tested and commissioned in the south polar region of the Moon, and permanent human outposts could then be established. Through several phases of development, the utility networks would grow, and the number of permanently inhabited bases could increase to include all areas of interest on the Moon. The book stresses that the Planet Moon Project would link the technological and cultural expertise of humanity to the virtually limitless resources of space. From that beginning, the people of the Earth could reap substantial benefits from space, and the human species would evolve into a spacefaring civilisation.