Colonizing the moon was once a distant pipe dream for scientists and nerds, but it has now become an inevitable reality. To get prepared, we need to start thinking about the logistics of what life would be like living on the moon. Personally, as long as I had a decent internet connection, I would be happy hanging out in a transparent space dome with a view of the stars and eating space food.
But apparently, there are other things to think about besides snacks and internet. So what exactly would life on the moon be like, and how do we make that happen? We’ve already landed on it, flown flags, and played golf on it, but how exactly do we start living on it?
Check out this infographic from an online slots site.
Well, the first thing we need to think about is building some structures. Bringing tons of wood and concrete from earth is too heavy and expensive, so NASA has figured out a way to make use of the moon’s soil, called regolith. They’ve developed a robot called Razer that combines regolith with plastics to create a mixture that can be used as building material for any type of structure, from walls to furniture, or hangars. Where do they get the plastics, you ask? From the plastic in the astronaut trash. Genius. They can build using 3D printers, or just placing together lego-like pieces (called ‘regos’) for simpler structures. The massive craters would provide a natural starting point for building large moon bases, perhaps with large domes over the top.
The next thing to think about is water, the foundation of life. We can only bring so many bottles of Dasani on the spaceship with us. We’ll need a more sustainable source while we’re up there. NASA has developed methods of using microwave machines to extract water from the regolith, but our best bet may be the ice reserves on the poles of the moon that can be melted down and processed.
Food is a bit tricky. Not only is it near impossible to grow food in the moon’s atmosphere and soil, but we will also require more food per person than is needed on earth. Merely existing on the moon burns about 300 calories an hour. Everyone will need to be constantly working out to keep their muscles from deteriorating in the low gravity environment.
Solving this issue will be dependent on the construction of massive greenhouses, perhaps using natural sunlight, or underground using artificial light. This would probably also include shipping up our soil, oxygen, and other nutrients because the moon’s regolith is almost entirely useless and sometimes toxic.
What about electricity? Due to its lack of atmosphere, solar panels work better on the moon than they do on earth, which means they’re the obvious choice for long-term sustainable energy. Japanese scientists are developing a technology called the Luna Ring. It is a 6,000-mile ring around the entire moon that harnesses solar energy and beams it back to earth for our use. This is supposed to be finished as early as 2035. If they can pull that off, then I’m sure NASA can figure out how to build a simple set of solar panels for moonbases.
Now, even if we have most of our basic human needs covered, there are still some constant life-threatening elements on the moon, such as the extreme solar flares and radiation. You could be out for a nighttime stroll, and at any given time, be struck by a cosmic flare with extreme temperatures and levels of radiation. Even if these don’t hit you, they can still hit the dirt around you and spray it onto your feet. If this radioactive dust hits human flesh, it can severely damage your DNA and cause instant cancer. To prepare for this phenomenon, NASA sent out a robot in 2008 called the Lunar Renaissance Orbiter (LRO), designed to tour the moon and map out the worst radiation areas, so we can at least be aware of where the danger zones are.
Obviously, an essential part of living on the moon would be spacesuits. Not only do they look awesome, but they also supply you with oxygen, protect against the extreme temperatures (anywhere from 260F to minus 280F), and a myriad of other things. It costs about $200,000,000 to research and develop a spacesuit, and then about $2,000,000-$3,000,000 to build one for each person.
This brings up another point. This is all going to be pricey. It is estimated that for just four astronauts to live on the moon for one year, it’ll cost about $36,000,000,000. So this whole moon colony thing is probably going to start off as being reserved for the super-rich. The richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos, announced at the International Astronautical Congress in October 2019, that his space company Blue Origin had assembled a consortium of various companies to work together on colonizing the moon.
With Bezos’ Blue Origin acting as the prime contractor and head of management, Lockheed Martin will develop the ‘Ascent Element’ vehicle, which will house the astronauts and return them to lunar orbit once their surface work is complete. Northrop Grumman will create a vehicle that brings the landing system towards the moon. And research and development company Draper will develop the guidance and avionics system.
“This is the kind of thing that’s so ambitious; it needs to be done with partners,” Bezos said. “This is the only way to get back to the moon fast.”
Hopefully, after about 30-40 years of letting the billionaires and big companies figure things out for us, we may be able to start sending up people for a stay on the moon. We could start out going for vacations, and then who knows? Maybe it will be common to have a lovely summer house up in a moon crater, soaking up that 260F sun.