Key idea: The handful of astronauts who have set foot on the Moon spent as little as a day on the surface. How do you build a settlement that will last for years?
Original author and publication date: Richard Hollingham (BBC) – March 20, 2023
Futurizonte Editor’s Note: A permanent Moon base will be only the first step for a permanent human presence in space.
From the article:
If my 1980s-era Usborne Book of The Future was to be believed (and, frankly, it served as my bible when I was growing-up), at the beginning of the 21st Century – along with flatscreen TVs, electric cars and telephones that “have pictures as well as sound” – there would be astronauts living and working in a city on the Moon.
Occupying vast domes connected by pressurised underground passageways, “Moonies” would work at consoles surrounded by banks of computers or bounce across the surface in Moon jeeps on their way to the Moon mines.
Since the last astronaut left his final footstep in 1972, however, the only evidence that people once occupied the Moon consists of little more than a few flags, three rovers, a dozen cameras and 96 bags of human waste (you can read more facts on Apollo here). Whatever happened to the Moon base we were promised?
“One of the big goals of what we’re doing today, is to make sure that this isn’t flags and footprints and then it gets cancelled again,” says Nasa’s strategy and architecture lead for the exploration systems development mission directorate architecture development office Nujoud Merancy.
In non-Nasa speak, that means Merancy is one of the key people responsible for planning the agency’s return to the Moon.
“We want to lay the groundwork so that this can be an inevitable process that goes forward,” she says, “and we don’t spend 50 years not exploring beyond low Earth orbit again like we have for the last 50 years.”
And, so far, that plan is working out. Nasa’s first uncrewed Artemis mission returned to Earth in December 2022 after almost four weeks in space.