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Lunar Bases

The objective of the early lunar base is to get material into orbit so that products and services can be sold to support space development.

Some studies have the lunar base making components on the surface of the Moon and blasting them up. However, it may be better to send a minimal lunar base to collect semi-processed minerals, and to locate most of the processing industry in orbital space. There are advantages to industry located in orbit -- continuous solar energy with no nights for power and thermal energy, huge solar ovens, gravities from zero to whatever a centrifuge will provide, saving the costs of landing and deploying processing equipment on the Moon's surface, and the capability to use the same industry in orbit for processing both asteroidal and lunar material.

It seems that beneficiation (discussed in the industrial section) will produce material of high enough quality to launch into orbit. In the early years, waste is generally usable for things ranging from radiation shielding to melt-cast bulk "lunarcrete" walls and light duty structural elements and outfittings. It's likely that we will adopt space-based industrial processes which will be able to convert almost all of the lunar minerals delivered into very useful final products without much waste.

Surface manufacturing capabilities for the purpose of building up the lunar base using local materials would be quite worthwhile, e.g., for making steel and glass-ceramic structural items. A mobile solar reflector oven could make the landing/launch pad, road surfaces, dome roofs, etc. Most of the base, in terms of weight, will be produced on-site from local materials, not blasted up from Earth.

The lunar base will need a landing/launch pad, a power plant (perhaps a solar cell array for daytime "peak" energy and a small nuclear power plant for nighttime), base construction equipment, a spare parts and maintenance garage, a central control and communications center, housing for the people on-site, and life support systems. Of course, it will also need the mining and beneficiation equipment discussed in other sections. The mining equipment (flail and haulers) and a solar oven would be used in building the initial lunar base before being employed for supplying material for industry in orbital space.




PERMANENT.com > Lunar Resources (Mining The Moon) > Bases on the Moon




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