Introduction: The Moon-Space Colonies (02:52)
Humans are explorers, and have taken over the Earth; our next frontier may be the moon. Climate change, overpopulation and extinction events motivate space exploration. Resources beyond our planet could supply materials for space industrialization and colonization; discovery of lunar water is an incentive for establishing habitats there.
Milestone Missions (02:25)
(Credits) The moon is the closest body to Earth and the only one humans have touched. In 1959, the Soviet Union launched its Luna program, sending unmanned probes to the lunar surface. In 1969, Apollo 11 Lunar Module landed two astronauts on the moon. Apollo 17 was launched in 1972, marking the end of NASA lunar missions.
Ice Discovery (03:06)
In 2009, the Indian Space Research Organizations discovered water molecules in lunar soil, reigniting interest in moon exploration. 600 million metric tons of water ice have been speculated in craters; it could be used for drinking, plant irrigation, and split into hydrogen and oxygen for fuel and life support.
Saving Humanity (02:55)
Overpopulation is causing resource limitations; raw materials in the asteroid belt are sufficient for sustaining colonies and Earth's population. Climate change will destroy civilization if not stopped; discovery of water on the moon makes it our next best habitable option.
Lunar Characteristics (04:28)
The moon is not conducive to human life support; poles receive constant light, while days and nights at the equator last two weeks. Gravity equals one sixth of Earth's, causing health problems. Drastic temperature swings trigger seismic activity; protection from radiation and micrometeorite impacts is not provided by an atmosphere.
Earth's Closest Neighbor (03:24)
The moon's proximity makes for short travel times and near real time communication transmissions. Low lunar gravity make it an easy launch site for missions to other solar system bodies. It is the most feasible springboard for other space projects.
Selecting Lunar Base Locations (04:12)
Colony locale is key; the moon is now mapped in detail. Polar regions are most promising as they contain water and receive constant solar energy; equatorial regions have high contents of helium three and the advantage of free return trajectories. The far side offers a deep view of universe, making it an ideal location for telescopes.
Protecting Lunar Bases (04:49)
Without an atmosphere, the moon is exposed to radiation and micrometeorite strikes. Lava tubes are promising for settlement as they are reliable structures believed to have consistent temperatures. Lunar regolith can be fused to form protective construction materials for surface colonies.
Constructing Lunar Colonies (04:49)
Electro static moon dust is the greatest obstacle to building habitats; concepts to avoid its interference include adaptation of landers and pre-integrated structures built in orbit. 3-D printing technologies can compress regolith to manufacture structures remotely; inflatable housing could be covered with the same readily available material. Underground bases, excavated or in a lava tube, would provide necessary protection from dust, radiation and micrometeorites.
Powering Lunar Bases (03:21)
Electric energy in space can be obtained from the sun or nuclear reactors; solar power is abundant and free, but long lunar nights require strategic location of power plants; polar regions offer constant light; satellites could beam energy from orbit. A nuclear fission reactor would be reliable, but expensive to transport and difficult to get approved. Energy storage is an area of research as batteries and hydrogen fuel cells are heavy and expensive to transport.
Supporting Lunar Colonists (04:01)
Sustainment of human life requires oxygen, food, water and gravity; plants can be grown in regolith, but also require organic matter, light, and protection from low temperatures and radiation. Easy methods of transportation to the moon are being developed; space elevators would utilize a tether and low lunar gravity. Rovers, pressurized modules and hopping vehicles will be used for surface transit.
Lunar Industry (03:14)
Colonies must be self sufficient for long term sustainment; mining lunar materials would create a new economy, and reduce prices of transporting resources there and to other solar system facilities. Construction in zero gravity is easier and safer. Water on the moon can be converted to fuel and oxygen; storing propellants and minerals there for refueling would reduce costs for future missions.
Proposed Projects (03:57)
The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter probe was launched in 2009, and has scanned and mapped the moon's surface. The European Space Agency is designing the Moon Village, an open concept available for research, economic and tourist activities; it is a springboard for intended colonies on Mars. The China National Space Administration is researching the mining of isotope helium three; Roscosmos is designing a robotic lunar base projected for construction in the 2020s.
Space Tourists and Private Sectors (03:04)
Commercial companies are looking into providing public tours of the moon and adventure travel as soon as the 2020s. Collaboration between private and government entities will produce great results and a new industrial revolution.
Credits: The Moon-Space Colonies (01:29)
Credits: The Moon-Space Colonies
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