It’s long been a dream to have a human settlement on the Moon, but in this age of budget cuts and indecisive plans for NASA’s future, a Moon base may seem too costly and beyond our reach. However, noted lunar scientist Dr. Paul Spudis from the Lunar and Planetary Institute and a colleague, Tony Lavoie from the Marshall Space Flight Center, have come up with a plan for building a lunar settlement that is not only affordable but sustainable.
It creates a Moon base along with a type of ‘transcontinental railroad’ in space which opens up cislunar space – the area between Earth and the Moon – for development.
“The ultimate goal in space is to be able to go anywhere, anytime with as much capability as we need,” Spudis told Universe Today. “This plan uses a robotic and human presence on the Moon to use the local resources to create a new spacefaring system. The key for doing this is to adopt a flexible approach that is incremental and cumulative.”
In a nutshell what Spudis proposes is to send robots to the Moon which are tele-operated from Earth to start extracting water from the polar deposits to create propellant. The propellant would be used to fuel a reusable space transportation system between the Earth and the Moon.
“The reason this is possible is because the Moon is close – it’s only three light-seconds round trip for radio signal get from Earth to the Moon back,” Spudis said, “which means you can control machines remotely with operators on the Earth actually doing the activities that an astronaut might do on the Moon.”
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