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Earlier this year, a Moon Society Crew "took over" the Mars Desert research Station outside Hanksville, Utah for two weeks, hoisted our flag, and got our feet wet conducting a number of projects. The idea was to gain experience about what an analog station research program might become in a Moon Society context.
We have been gathering ideas for some time about how the Moon Society, in a possible collaboration with the National Space Society, could phase in a Lunar Analog Research Station Facility.
We’ve attempted to define our research goals, and they turn out to be quite different than those of the Mars Society’s justly famous stations in the Canadian Arctic ad in Utah.
We’ve developed a short list of potential sites. basaltic lava flow areas with on site or nearby lavatubes
We’ve been following with great interest the “Mobile-Modular” architecture being pursued by the Calgary Space Workers (web reference just above) for its many advantages: modules can be outfitted where a cluster of volunteers live, saving a lot of money on logistics.
But meanwhile, we have been looking for ways to model a non-mobile modular-unit with integrated modular biosphere. The Mars Society paid $200,000 for the fabrication of the unit in the Arctic, half that for the Hab in Utah. These sums do not include the money spent on utility systems and interior outfitting, shipping to the site, etc.
The modular approach allows a deployment in Phases, a module or two at a time. Can we find a ready made structure that can be adapted for service as an analog station module?
This proposal as based on one such option, but includes details of the Research Program it would support, as well as on the Outreach Program that could be developed as the Outpost grew, phase by phase.
The goal of this effort is to develop a detailed plan, a blueprint for a phased in extensive analog outpost operation, a document that will be ready to present to potential funders. That it can be broken down into individual components, each of which can be funded separately, gives us an enormous advantage, and greatly lowers the threshold for breaking ground on Phase I.
There is a lot of homework yet to be done.
We have a lot of work to do before we can identify, and secure the rights to, a final ideal location.
Many things can be done in greater or less detail, with greater or less fidelity to what would be realistic on the Moon. We need to compare options, identify cost-benefits for each, and, as money IS an issue, pick our “battles” with care.
Whichever available module core structure we pick, we will have to develop definitive plans for insulation, utilities, interior walls, flooring, doorways, connections to other modules, etc.
We want to treat our black water toilet wastes and there are a number of systems to look at: the Wolverton system probably the foremost. The MDRS project had nothing but trouble with the original Incinolet.
We want to incorporate other biospheric systems as well, and here too, the details need to be worked out.
How do we do connecting hallways, nodes, airlocks? The MDRS airlock system could be adapted, with some modifications
We need to do more compete and accurate costing
The logistics issues of outfitting modules on location, in contrast to where clusters of volunteers are available all the time, must be addressed
We will need an engineering/utilities team, and a construction/outfitting team
design contests will help develop some of the options as well as spark interest. But we cannot announce them until we have defined the needed constraints which may include dimensions, usage, materials, and other parameters
Meanwhile, we will continue to look at entirely different alternatives. Our philosophy must be to push all the options until it becomes quite clear which will be most advantageous. Economy, Logistics, and Human Resources are all relevant.
Your comments and feedback our welcome.