from the walking-on-the-moon dept.
A NASA scientist suggests that building a base on the moon would be feasible within a $10 billion budget, in a special issue of New Space focusing on the feasibility of lunar colonization:
What if I told you there's no reason we couldn't set up a small base on the moon by 2022 without breaking the bank? The endeavor would cost about $10 billion, which is cheaper than one U.S. aircraft carrier. Some of the greatest scientists and professionals in the space business already have a plan. NASA's Chris McKay, an astrobiologist, wrote about it in a special issue of the New Space journal, published just a few weeks ago.
Before we get into the details, let's ask ourselves: Why the moon? Although scientists (and NASA) don't find it all that exciting, the moon is a great starting point for further exploration. Furthermore, building a lunar base would provide us with the real-world experience that may prove invaluable for future projects on other planets like Mars, which NASA plans to reach by 2030. The main reason the moon is not a part of NASA's plan is simply because of the agency's crimped budget.
NASA's leaders say they can afford only one or the other: the moon or Mars. If McKay and his colleagues are correct, though, the U.S. government might be able to pull off both trips. All it takes is a change of perspective and ingenuity. "The big takeaway," McKay says, "is that new technologies, some of which have nothing to do with space — such as self-driving cars and waste-recycling toilets — are going to be incredibly useful in space, and are driving down the cost of a moon base to the point where it might be easy to do." The document outlines a series of innovations — already existing and in development — that work together toward the common goal of building the first permanent lunar base.
Here are the articles in question, all of which are open access:
What Do We Do with the Moon? (open, DOI: 10.1089/space.2015.29003.gsh)
Toward a Low-Cost Lunar Settlement: Preface to the New Space Special Articles (open, DOI: 10.1089/space.2015.0039)
A Summary of the Economic Assessment and Systems Analysis of an Evolvable Lunar Architecture That Leverages Commercial Space Capabilities and Public–Private Partnerships (open, DOI: 10.1089/space.2015.0037)
Lunar Station: The Next Logical Step in Space Development
(open, DOI: 10.1089/space.2015.0031)
U.S. Government Funding of Major Space Goals: A Historical Perspective (open, DOI: 10.1089/space.2015.0036)
Site Selection for Lunar Industrialization, Economic Development, and Settlement (open, DOI: 10.1089/space.2015.0023)
Life Support for a Low-Cost Lunar Settlement: No Showstoppers (open, DOI: 10.1089/space.2015.0029)
Using the Agile Approach for Lunar Settlement (open, DOI: 10.1089/space.2015.0038)
Lunar-Based Self-Replicating Solar Factory (open, DOI: 10.1089/space.2015.0041)
Let's just throw this old thing at the Moon and call it a day:
A cargo container that was built to fly on NASA's space shuttles is being repurposed as a prototype for a deep space habitat.
Lockheed Martin announced it will refurbish the Donatello multi-purpose logistics module (MLPM), transforming from it from its original, unrealized role as a supply conveyor for the International Space Station to a test and training model of a living area for astronauts working beyond Earth orbit. The work is being done under a public-private partnership between the aerospace corporation and NASA.
"We are excited to work with NASA to repurpose a historic piece of flight hardware," said Bill Pratt, Lockheed Martin's program manager for the deep space habitat contract, in a statement.
Donatello was one of three MPLMs that was designed to fly in the space shuttle payload bay to transfer cargo to the station. Built by the Italian Space Agency under a contract with NASA, two modules, Leonardo and Raffaello, flew on 12 shuttle missions between 2001 and 2011.
Also at Popular Mechanics.
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