2 Lunar Base Concepts 75 Years Apart

NASA has released some of the initial elements of its Global Exploration Strategy, including a proposed lunar architecture. NASA has identified a specific lunar outpost design - a moonbase - as an essential structure to build on the Moon.

(NASA lunar outpost | See diagram KEY here)

Careful attention is paid to the site: a polar outpost is thermally moderate and its high percentage of sunlight offers abundant solar power. It is also the location requiring the least additional fuel to reach. Resources, including volatiles like oxygen and water may be available for mining.

(Setting for first lunar habitation)

Seventy-five years earlier, in his 1931 classic Brigands of the Moon, science fiction author Ray Cummings writes one of the first descriptions of a lunar habitation based on real science.

And there were humans here now. On this tumbled plain, between Archimedes and the mountains, one small crater amid the million of its fellows was distinguished this night by the presence of humans...

The air here on the Moon surface was negligible--a scant one five-thousandth of the atmospheric pressure at the sea level on Earth. But within the glassite shelter, a normal Earth pressure must be maintained. Rigidly braced double walls to withstand the explosive tendency, with no external pressure to counteract it. A tremendous necessity for mechanical equipment had burdened Grantline's small ship to capacity. The chemistry of manufactured air, the pressure equalizers, renewers, respirators, the lighting and temperature maintenance of a space-flyer was here.

There was this main Grantline building, stretched low and rectangular along the front edge of the ledge. Within it were living rooms, mess hall and kitchen. Fifty feet behind it, connected by a narrow passage of glassite, was a similar though smaller structure. The mechanical control rooms, with their humming, vibrating mechanisms were here. And an instrument room with signaling apparatus, senders, receivers, mirror-grids and audiphones of several varieties. And an electro-telescope, small but modern, with dome overhead like a little Earth observatory.

From this instrument building, beside the connecting pedestrian passage, wire cables for light, and air tubes and strings and bundles of instrument wires ran to the main structure--gray snakes upon the porous, gray Lunar rock.

The third building seemed a lean-to banked against the cliff wall, a slanting shed-wall of glassite fifty feet high and two hundred in length. Under it, for months Grantline's bores had dug into the cliff. Braced tunnels were here, penetrating back and downward into the vein of rock.

Read a good overview of NASA's return to the moon strategy at Space.com; take a look at the offerings on NASA's space exploration site. Thanks to Zac for pointing this story out.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 12/5/2006)

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