• Five months after our 1st Moonbase Exercise

    Link: http://www.moonsociety.org/moonbasesim/

    Five months after our 1st Moonbase Exercise ended in Utah, what do we do, where do we do it, and just how do we “follow suite?”
    from Peter Kokh, Commander MDRS Crew #45, ”Artemis Moonbase I”

    We had a great crew for Artemis Moonbase 1, M.D.R.S. crew #45. We had an excellent first selection of projects, and while we did not have the time to do all of them justice, we left happy with what we had achieved. Indeed, for the most part, we achieved our major goals, that is, all except two.

    A. We received only a fraction of the publicity we had hoped for, for our mission, and for the society and its goals. Publicity was/is essential both to attract new members and additional funding and other resources.

    B. Despite some significant donations from groups and individuals to whom we are most grateful, we did not reach our funding goal and had to dig into the Moon Society pocket to pay the shortfall. Yet, when the mission announced, none of us had any brash confidence that we could put the money together. Indeed we came close, with a shortfall of only $1,200, 17%. That reality, however, has effectively discouraged us from applying for a two week slot in the upcoming 2006-07 field season. To conduct a sequel under the same circumstances, with $7,000 rent due the Mars Society for a two week “crew rotation slot” at the Mars Desert Research Station, seems out of reach. That is especially true because much of the money we did raise was from one time donations, unlikely to be repeated.

    But no one should think that our two weeks in the Utah sun were a futile effort leading to a dead end. Certainly none of us who worked so hard on the first mission think that way.

    We no not know how, or when, or in what form, but we remain convinced that moonbase exercises, focused on “demonstrating the technologies needed to grow an initial human presence on the Moon from outpost into true settlement” are very much a part of our master plan.

    Since the end of the exercise in mid-March, a few of us, especially William Fung-Schwarz, crew Health & Safety Officer, myself, and David. A. Dunlop, the Society’s new Director of Project Management, have been discussing a wide range of options (other than a return to MDRS.) They would seem to be three.

    1. An “analog site” in which the geology and morphology of the terrain is a good match for a true moonscape

    2. A high volume “tourist traffic” center such as Las Vegas, Orlando, or now, with Spaceport America under construction, the area north of Las Cruces, NM which itself is just north of El Paso, TX. This is the original goal of Project Leto

    3. A scattered site approach. For geological work, we’d choose an analog site. But modeling the 29.5 day long dayspan/nightspan cycle would be easier, anywhere, in a large volume where light could be totally controlled: a large aircraft hanger, a roofed sports arena (during the off season) or even a high-ceiling wide-span warehouse. And to make progress on air/water/waste recycling and/or agriculture, it would make sense to work where the people are, all the time, such as a university.

    I see at least three alternative options that dovetail with each of the three above, in turn.

    1b. An artificial analog site. We really do not need to demonstrate geological techniques (though we may at some time want to demonstrate teleoperated prospecting equipment.) On the other hand, we do want to demonstrate teleoperated site preparation, regolith shielding emplacement, road construction, and other remotely operated equipment. For this, a chemical analog of regolith is not essential. Any chemical or mineralogical mix would do, so long as it has been pre-pulverized into the right mix of particle sizes, and behaves like regolith in handling. I’ll talk about this option in greater detail in an upcoming post.

    2b. Despite strong support from several persons for option #2, after having served on two crews (#34 and #45) at MDRS, and having become familiar with how the Mars Society Analog Research Station program operates so successfully to keep churning out quality research in many areas, I would be adamantly opposed to physically combining a research station with a tourist facility, however admittedly valuable and important a tourist visitor center publicity and income could be. Rather, I suggest two identical stations: twins would be cheaper to build than two non-identical stations, as they would share the design and development costs as well as materials sourcing. But I would locate one dedicated to research in a site remote from distracting visitors, and the other at the tourist center. Web cams showing live exterior and interior views of the actual research station would let tourist center visitors see what is going on as they watch. A one way mirror glass wall would suffice only if we were doing indoor projects only!

    3b. A modular analog station on wheels would be able to serve several locations in sequence. One season it could be parked at a geological analog site to do lavatube-related projects, and the next season at a physical analog site for demonstration of teleoperation equipment and procedures, and the season after that at a university for biosphere related projects, or inside a hanger for projects related to the dayspan/nightspan cycle. And in between, this mobile modular outpost (MMO) could visit high tourist traffic destinations, major space conferences, theme parks, state fairs, etc.

    We noted that the principal obstacle to doing a sequel mission(s) at the Mars Desert station in Utah is a grounded lack of confidence that we can raise the needed money in time. But in all honesty, all the options above would cost much more money. (1) Before we could do a first mission at a new geological lunar analog location, scout teams would have to visit each proposed general area and hunt for the best specific site in each, secure a lease (public BLM, Bureau of Land Management, lands) or limited access to private land. Next, we’d have to deploy (a) structure(s) not just rent them. (2) Before we could locate in a high tourist traffic location, with proportionately much higher real estate prices, we’d have to raise mucho bucks for the extra much higher cost of putting up a really good visitor center. (3) Some of the scattered suite options, such as a university biospheric research center, would require many sponsors and sources of funds

    As for our three counter suggestions, (1b) For a physical not geological lunar analog site, we’d have to find an area where the native material could be prepared as good physical analog of regolith at modest expense, then deploy (a) station module(s) . (2b) For a tourist center station plus a remote research station, we would have to meet the expenses of both. (3b) A Mobile Modular Outpost able to visit many working locations as well as many tourist locations would add the expenses of providing built-in mobility.

    At this point in our brainstorming, a Mobile Modular Outpost mated with a twin stationary one at a tourist visitors center would seem to make “the ultimate daydream.” But any decision comes down to one brutal fact. We cannot do anything without securing outside funds and donations. We desperately need the help of a Fundraising Team!

    Meanwhile, we will keep fine tuning the above, very general suggestions: So look for more, in future posts to the Post-Mission area of this Blog site, on geological analog locations on our short list; the question of a physical analog location; modular outpost/station architecture, permanent or mobile.

    Meanwhile, despite the many ways in which the Mars Desert Station is a less than desirable place to operate, a 2-week sequel stint there continues to be the most realistic first sequel, at least for the 2008 season - it is almost too late to apply for a slot in the 2007 season, unless we received an unexpected large windfall in the next month or so. The Field Season calendar slots are being filled up fast!

    But cheer up! Since when do obstacles predict failure? - PK

  • Design a Banner for Our Front Page

    Design a Banner for our Website Front Page
    and win a Free Membership or Renewal

    May 3, 2006 - The Moon Society Leadership Council has given its support to a design competition that could produce a Banner for the Moon Society Website.


    * The Moon Society is not obliged to pick or declare a winner, if no entries meet our enthusiastic approval.* If we pick a submitted banner design for our front page, the prize will be a new one year membership or a one year renewal, as applicable.

    * If other designs are also well received, we may accept them for use on other pages, awarding (a) runner up prize(s) of one half year membership or renewal

    * CONTENT: The ideal banner should convey "the journey from where we are now, a membership society on Earth," to "where we want to end up, a civilian pioneer society on the Moon." How to suggest this is entirely up to the artist.

    * INCLUDED WORDING: The words "The Moon Society" need not appear as they will be prominent elsewhere on the page. You may wish, however, to include the rally cry "To the Moon to Stay!"

    * ANIMATION? - short answer, "no." But if you incorporate the rally cry above, you could have two frames, the first with "To the Moon" and then, when all the rest of the page has finished loading, a highlighted "to Stay!" could pop up (and remain). Feel free, however to come up with other ideas, so long as once the page is loaded, the banner will remain static, in its final phase.

    * LOW BANNER SIZE in kilobytes will be a judging/decision factor. The banner should load in no more time than does the full moon logo which is 160 KB.

    * Deadline July 1st, with (a) winner(s), if any, to be announced on August 1st, to coincide with announcement of society officer and director election winners.

    * Email your entry as an attachment to president@moonsociety.org with the words "Banner Entry" in the subject line. Your submission may be in any standard image form (.gif, .jpg, .tff, .psd, .pict, etc. or as a paint file.) or in pdf file format, but should be attached by itself, with any explanatory remarks accompanying the image in the message body text.

    This Contest Announcement to be posted on our front page, on our blog, and sent by email to all current and former members for whom we have current email addresses, and who do not employ spam filters without white listing society email.

    Other Space Site Banners presented for inspiration.


    This is a logo, not a banner, but an example of passage from present to envisioned future


    http://hiwaay.net/~hal5/images/hal5_pic.gif - NSS Huntsville, AL chapter





    NOTE: Our Banner Contest has ended. There were no entries that met our design requirements.

  • New! - Powerpoint Slide Show of Artemis Mission

    Link: http://www.moonsociety.org/moonbasesim/moonbasesimone_multimedia.html

    During our recent Moonbase Simulation exercises at the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah, it was Gerry Williams of Mars Society San Diego who was the voice of CapCom for about half of the two-week mission.

    Now Gerry has taken a pick of the photos taken during the mission and put together a Powerpoint Slide show.

    You can download this slide show at:

    Click on the file:

    Enjoy, and use it to Spread the Word!

    And thanks again, Gerry!

  • Help us redesign the Moon Society Website

    Three years ago, member John Schrock led an effort to redesign the Moon Society front page at


    It was a welcome improvement.

    In the past year and a half, we have added more menu options and features. But whether it is a matter of layout, color, or content, "what's new" doesn't jump out at the casual visitor. We have had a problem changing the "changing picture" regularly and that has not helped.

    We would very much appreciate your feedback. What do you like or not like about the front page? What improvements would you like to see?

    To stimulate your thoughts on all this, take a look at the front pages of these four space organizations.

    Two that haven't changed in a while in layout or template:

    The Space Frontier Foundation

    The Mars Society

    Two that have recently been totally redesigned.

    The National Space Society

    The Planetary Society

    Tell us what you like, don't like about each. Be specific.

    Your input will be a big help to us in considering how to present a better face to visitors and members alike.

    We have become a more dynamic society.
    We've got to let that show!

    please email me personally with your inputs


    Peter Kokh

    NOTE: If you've checked our website lately, you will see that, keeping all the your great inputs in mind, we have opted for an evolutionary approach. We hope you find the website easier to use, what you want easier to find, and that it is more interesting. The real test of how well we're doing is if you find yourself visiting it more often! - PK

  • The View from 3 Weeks after Mission’s End

    The View from 3 Weeks after Mission’s End
    By Mission Commander, Peter Kokh
    Filed April 5, 2006

    Artemis Moonbase Sim 1 (MDRS Crew 45)
    February 26-March 11, 2006

    First, deep apologies from all of us on the Artemis Moonbase Sim 1 Crew. We got this blog up and running with every intention of submitting personalized reports all throughout the mission. And that didn’t happen.

    The reason is simple. We had undertaken a hefty list of projects and they occupied a lot of our time. Then we had the obligatory reports to file with our Mars Society hosts every day. That took more time. More importantly, because we had such a slow satellite uplink from the middle of Nowhere, Utah, sending our reports took hours. We had to fight frequent service interruptions.
    We were left with low energy levels at the end of the day. Even when we did technically have some time left, we spent that on relaxation.

    So that was a big lesson for us. Don’t plan too much. Don’t promise too much.
    We hope that most of you followed along anyway. But for some of you that might not have been easy. Our own crew website at moonsociety.org/moonbasesim/ was moved to a new location on the Nursing Society Server (our webmaster, William Fung-Schwarz, takes care of that site also) in the wake of two multi-day server crashes of the Moon Society website. But the move was not completed by the time the mission began, leaving visitors in the dark. The /moonbasesim/ site has since been restored at its original location.

    Some of you will have been able to follow anyway, on the official Mars Desert Research Station website:
    Where our reports and pictures are permanently stored under the Crew 45 section.
    I have encouraged the individual crew members to post their reflections on their experiences.
    You will find my Mission Summary Report at:

    We left MDRS feeling a great sense of accomplishment, despite the fact that a combination of over-planning and sickness on the part of some crew members had kept us from achieving all our goals.

    Now, three weeks after arriving home, unwinding, letting it all sink in, and further digesting our experiences, I’d like to share with you some reflections.

    First, our major goals were these:

    #1. Stir up enthusiasm amongst the membership, encouraging more members to renew, and motivating more visitors to join.

    #2. Attract major publicity and name recognition for the Moon Society. That would help attract new members as well as new funding.

    #3. Gain experience from our exercise that would leave us better prepared to situate, design, outfit, manage, and maintain our own Lunar Analog Station someday.

    #4. Fully fund this mission (rent and equipment expenditures) with enough money left over for a down payment on a sequel.

    Of these four goals, the third was the only one where I believe we did well.

    On goal #1: There has been no discernible growth in the Moon Society membership to date, but that may come later.

    On goal #2: All our efforts to attract major publicity failed. While M.D.R.S. as a standing facility, continues to attract Media attention worldwide, individual crew exercises do not. Two expected media visits did not occur for whatever reasons. However, our exercise was followed on the Ad Astra Online section of Space.com and will be featured in an upcoming issue of the National Space Society's quarterly, Ad Astra. We did get a bit part in the new BBC documentary “The Moon,” but not anything that we can expect to draw in new members.

    On goal #3: This first mission is stalled at about 78% funding. In two months, we must make up the difference, reaching into our own pockets if need be. If that is the case, it seems unlikely that we would undertake a sequel with even more ambitious projects. We need to make up a $1,500 shortfall and then some towards next year, in order to change that assessment. Meanwhile, we wish to thank all of you who did contribute! For your individual contributions we are deeply grateful. You should know that all of the crew members contributed their own transportation costs to and from Utah, and some of us paid for other items out of pocket. It is not to late to make a contribution. Go to www.moonsociety.org and look for the Make a Donation button in the left hand menu column. This calls up a secure PayPal page in which you can make a credit card donation. You must accompany your donation by an email to treasurer@moonsociety.org specifying that your donation is for the Moonbase Simulation exercise. Failing that, your donation will go into the general funds.

    While this seems like a grim report, the fact remains that our projects were overall very successful and we have a lot to be proud about.

    The Mars Desert Station area is indeed very Marslike. We had little choice but to concentrate on exercises that would be relevant for moon bases and Mars outposts alike. That had the happy result of providing our host, the Mars Society, with results that benefited their own goals as well. Such a result was intended, of course -- we wanted to be welcome to come back!

    William Fung-Schwarz’s MarsSkin space suit experiments contributed to the ongoing evolution of analog spacesuits at MDRS. See his final report at: http://www.marssociety.org/MDRS/fs05/0311/mcp.asp

    Laurel Ladd’s modeling of an Early Space Frontier Diet, based on dry and dehydrated foodstuffs supplemented with fresh produce and veggies (on occasion) from our let’s pretend Greenhouse (in operation for three months or so) was a great success. Fiber- and protein-enriched, the meals were well received and no crew member reported any gastrointestinal unwanted side effects. An Online Cookbook, startup edition, is planned, and it will be something Moon and Mars crews to come can add to, should they decide to pick up where we left off.

    Our own (commander’s) project of constructing a “simulated” pressurized tunnel between the MarsHab and the GreenHab was also successful. The idea was to create a visually separate “tunnel” through the outdoors, so that crew members could transit inside in ordinary clothing, while their comrades out on the “lunar” or “Martian” surface just outside the “tunnel” would need to wear the EVA suits. The simulation program at M.D.R.S. depends on the admitted illusion, created by wearing the appropriate apparel, of being on Mars itself (or the Moon itself) in order to get the best results from testing equipment and procedures to be used in real situations on Mars or the Moon. Previously, crew members going to the GreenHab had to make an unconvincing mental not that if they followed a certain path they would not be exposed to vacuum (the Moon) or to the unbreathable atmosphere of Mars. The “tunnel” had to provide nor real resistance to the sometimes fierce local winds. The result improved our own level of simulation, and that of all future Mars crews to come.

    Our Dust Control Study may prove helpful to the Mars Society in upgrading the Hab to allow experiments and exercises not now feasible, as well as help us in better designing our own analog lunar station someday:

    But back to a “Three Weeks After Review”

    It was a learning experience! On the one hand, it does not seem possible that we could have done it differently or better, given the circumstances. But if we do get the chance to do something like this again, either in Utah or elsewhere, we’ve learned enough to make some major changes.
    We need to have a Mission building Team where the following roles are filled by different individuals.
    * Fundraising & Sponsor Solicitation
    * Budget Manager with the power to veto spending requests
    * Engineering Team to design experiment apparatus
    * Media/Publicity Team to pin down coverage
    * Crew Selection & project proposals

    In plain fact, some mistakes and bad calls were made because one person was taking on all these roles. That happened largely because we had only three and a half months to put the mission together. And while we had a lot of cheerleaders, and some very helpful support on details, there were no volunteers for the above major roles. Most members have day jobs that already provide all the load that they can handle. That is, everyone is already busy. The bottom line, however, is that before we try this again, we very much need to grow the society membership base substantially.

    In my next report, I will talk about what more we could do at MDRS, and what we would have to gain by going elsewhere, and how much that might cost.
    And I want to talk about a membership drive.


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