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Moon Space Science

A Moon Base Made From Lunar Dust 115

Zothecula writes "The race to build a manned research station on the moon has been slowly picking up steam in recent years, with several developed nations actively studying a variety of construction methods. In just the past few months, the European Space Agency revealed a design involving 3D-printed structures and the Russian Federal Space Agency announced plans for a moon base by 2037. Now international design agency, Architecture Et Cetera (A-ETC), has thrown its hat into the ring with a proposal for SinterHab, a moon base consisting of bubble-like compartments coated in a protective layer of melted lunar dust."
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A Moon Base Made From Lunar Dust

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  • Moon-brick machine (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Monday March 18, 2013 @11:19AM (#43203305) Homepage Journal

    A while back one of the universities (I want to say in the Southwest US, AZ maybe) had a project to build a machine to make bricks out of moon dust; their process also liberated oxygen and hydrogen from the dust, which could be bottled for human use. As I understood it they had a fully-working prototype.

    Anybody know what happened to this?

  • Re:Not a bad idea (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Monday March 18, 2013 @11:24AM (#43203365) Journal

    Even better, it apparently manages some wonderful static cling in the nonconductive lunar vacuum. Razor sharp, unweathered dust, peppered with glassy melt products from micrometeorite impacts, that static-clings like mad to anything it gets on. Probably eats any machinery whose lubricants it contaminates for breakfast, and I wouldn't be too optimistic about breathing the stuff that will end up getting tracked into the habitubes. Silicosis is a bitch of a way to die.

  • Re:Pay attention! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by garyebickford ( 222422 ) <> on Monday March 18, 2013 @12:18PM (#43203961)

    The classic cathedrals of Europe were all built using the compressive strength of stone, without any significant tensile elements. So it is possible to build domes and vaults of essentially arbitrary size without rebar. And the moon does not have significant issues with the ground shifting under the structures. Having said that, I won't argue that's the right way to do things! :D But it certainly might be for the early structures. I don't recall who, but some university is already experimenting with a '3D printer' that builds room-sized structures out of something similar to moon dust.

    My own group, Space Finance Group, is considering putting together funding for some experiments related to this.

  • by dywolf ( 2673597 ) on Monday March 18, 2013 @12:26PM (#43204043)

    The desert was hostile too.
    So was the arctic.
    And the ocean.
    And beneath it.
    And atmosphere above 15k feet.
    Hostility to human life is simply an engineering problem, and each of these, including space, has been solved.

    Moon base construction 101:
    First off, large facilities on the surface are out the window, unless absolutely needed. Good for TV, bad for actual use.

    Everything that can be gets built/housed under the surface. Companies and engineers with experience building pressure tight subsurface/subsea tunnels could make a killing bringing that experience to the moon. Again, it's a solved engineering problem. This solves the multiple problems of pressure vessel, habitat, dominant construction material, meteorite impact, and so on.

    Main objective of the base? If it's not science, then it must be industry. Which makes perfect sense actually. There are vast resources in the solar system to be exploited, but returning them to Earth to be refined is problematic. We can't really get them down to the surface easily...and if they're destined to go back into space, thats rather hard to do on a large scale too. And refining in orbit is problematic because of multiple factors: some processes require gravity, orbital stations need to be protected from debris, large enough to do meaningful refinement, yet small enough to be launched into orbit.... But the moon simplifies a lot of these. You dont need to build the large space station or launch it (re, first apragraph stuff). Still has gravity, which keeps many existing refining processes practical (ie, no need develope new special process that may not yeild results that conform to known engineering..such as steel alloy design/use). Yet not nearly as big of a gravity well, so getting on and off the surface is much easier.

    Do the refining there, and then send the finished material back to Earth (if that's its destination). Much more useful to send 6 tons (let's say) of finished steel (again, let's say) back to earth, than 6 tons of unprocessed iron ore that would only yeild say 2-3 tons of finished steel. Or if its destined to be used in space, good news, cause it's already there. Nearly. Certainly far easier than climbing back out of earth's gravity well. Long duration mission to Mars, sending more than a handful of folks on a scientific journey? Need a fairly large, comfortable, transport for them, more than a traditional capsule? Build it on the moon!

    Plus doing it for the first time on the moon, getting the experience, learning the engineering lessons that ALWAYS result from these sorts of endeavors, relatively safe and near to home, instead of doing it for the first time a billion miles and 3 years away.

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