A Rille-Bottom Settlement for Three Thousand People


Peter Kokh, Louise Rachel, Mark Kaehny, Myles Mullikin

A. Two Broad Classes of Industry

A principal requirement of our design is that Prinzton supply both the great bulk of its own needs and sufficient exportable commodities to pay for what it must import. Open to further diversification as the settlement matures, the initial list should look like this:

Oxygen - export for rocket fuel -export and domestic for making water and for air. Oxygen comprises 50% of food tissues by weight and 89% of associated water. Abundant native lunar oxygen is what makes lunar food growing attractive. Staples grown on the Moon would eventually have the price advantage over similar items from Earth DELIVERED TO LOW EARTH ORBIT and other space destinations. That is, in time, Prinzton could became a food-exporting settlement (if the considerable problem of supplying nighttime agricultural lighting is solved favorably). Foods that had to be imported would be freeze-dried as this would at least prevent import of the oxygen of the water of hydration.

Sintered Powdered Iron Products - iron is available by reduction of ilmenite (an iron and titanium bearing ore) and other minerals. However, free unoxidized iron fines abound in the loose regolith 'topsoil' of the Moon and are available for the price of a magnet. As soil is moved about in the construction process, routine magnetic scavenging will yield many thousands of tons of pure iron. Sintering such fines into useful products can be done easily and simply by well known, and widely used, powdered metal technology. While sintered iron will lack the tensile strength of steel, for many unsophisticated applications, it will do quite well. And unlike steel-making which is an elaborate process less suited for the small (by Earth standards) settlement, sintered iron is an ideally appropriate starter technology. Many of the more massive parts of the needed construction equipment and other tools could be fashioned locally for final assembly on site, thus cutting the required import tonnage considerably. This promise is what gives sintered iron its high industrial priority. And of course, sintered iron building products will be used in the construction of Prinzton itself.

Glass-glass composites (Glax*) - Very much on the analogy of fiberglass reinforced plastics, so familiar and so versatile, will be glass fiberglass matrix composites made wholly from lunar regolith 'soils'. A technology still in the early stages of laboratory development under the aegis of Space Studies Institute, it should be ready to go by the time we return to the Moon to stay. Glass composite production could begin even with the first token outpost, able to yield unsophisticated building products suitable for shelter construction and tankage. As settlement grows, this ideal starter technology should quickly diversify for the production of export-quality building elements for use in in-space construction as well as for the advanced construction requirements of Prinzton itself. By varying formulation and production techniques, settlers should be able to use this new class of materials to substitute for wood in furniture, for synthetics in small appliance and electronics casings, for vehicle body panels etc. Glax products for export should quickly diversify, again thanks to the price advantage for delivery to all space locations.

Concrete - will be a very useful building material choice on the Moon, especially if local water reserves are found in the form of permanently shadowed polar ice deposits, or if ways to import hydrogen cheaply are found. If neither is the case, concrete will be reserved for applications where its especially appropriate qualities outweigh the high cost of importing hydrogen to make up the needed water. As an export commodity, concrete may be useful for shielding requirements of some types of space installations. Again, lunar concrete - even if expensive - will be at a significant price advantage over Earth-produced concrete.

Cast Basalt - is a technology reputedly in use in Central Europe (although this writer has been able to find no further information i.e. where, how, for what etc.). Paving and landscaping slabs and barriers where minimum strength is required could be made of this low-cost melt-and-cast material.

These will be the BASIC INDUSTRIES, able to support considerable product diversification for both export off the Moon and to other lunar sites, and for domestic consumption. The raw materials should be available locally for the most part. The need to import necessary trace ingredients, that may not be economically sourceable locally, could conceivably support a number of smaller mining communities elsewhere on the Moon at specially endowed sites.

In our design of Prinzton, we took these industrial functions of the settlement into account in two ways. First we divided industrial activities into two broad categories:

HEAVY INDUSTRIES - those involving high heat output, requiring direct sunlight, requiring vacuum, and/or involving vibration that could compromise airtight structural integrity. These we sited above the rille on the broad shoulders. Workers would commute from the habitat areas in the rille bottom via pressurized tubes and elevators.

LIGHT INDUSTRIES which involve acceptably minimal heat production, need only electricity, and involve near-zero emissions: machining, and light assembly and finishing type industries; some food processing. These industries are suitable for siting within the principal habitat area, i.e. the 'Townfield' or lower level of the two-tiered village habitat structures.

Second we paid at least some attention to the order in which industries would be needed, and the logical order of diversification. Thus the first village would have more basic industries than subsequent ones. To add to the minimal variety and diversity of consumer products that such a small population (1000-5000) could provide for itself in its principal industries we foresee the rise of considerable spare-time1 cottage industry enterprises and flea market areas to serve them.

[1 In the beginning, every able-bodied person will be principally involved in production aimed at export or at basic domestic construction and necessities.]


B. The Choice of a Three Village System

Laid-back and inefficient lifestyles may be manageable Earthside, though not without inevitable penalty. But on the Moon, a settlement will not "make it" unless it is industrious to a fault. Much of the industrial machinery and tooling the settlement will need will be well beyond its capacity to self-manufacture. Equipment imported from Earth at very high cost can not be allowed to rest idle most of the time. A three shift system of production scheduling (or the even more efficient four crew two shift 3-4-4-3 system used in the beverage container industry which doesn't stop for weekends) will be necessary. Some of the design crew held to idealistic objections to the social consequences of shift-scheduling all the same.

Meanwhile, we were already committed to a 'segmented' settlement of physically separate village habitats that could be built one at a time 1) to allow earlier occupancy, 2) to distribute rather than share risks of structural failure, 3) to allow incorporation of new building materials, methods, and systems into later villages. We had no set number in mind.

In a eureka flash, it occurred to us that with three villages, each on its own day-night lighting scheme staggered eight hours apart, production scheduling could be handled rather elegantly. Each of the villages would in turn man/staff/crew all the production facilities - even schools and shops - not only within its own industrial park and enterprise zone but within the other villages and on the rille top as wall, in its allotted shift. When the 'A-villagers' finished, the 'B-villagers' would take over, etc. Meanwhile, within each village everyone would be on essentially the same schedule, allowing maximum social interaction during off hours. 'Night people' could do their after-hours recreating in another village, and so on. This is a scheduling solution that is not available to unitary settlements, including solitary space colony cylinders or spheres (though this feature could be incorporated in torus-type colonies).

Multiple villages also allow the opportunity for very welcome change of scenery, as each could have unique layout, landscaping, architectural style mix etc. and thus its own unique ambiance. Finally, multiple villages lend themselves to more interesting sport rivalries. Thus the three village system is central to the Prinzton way of life.


PART I - A Settlement in a Rille Valley

PART IV - Village Residential Areas

PART II - Concepts for Rille Architecture

PART V - Multiple Energy Systems

PART III - Industry & the Three Village System

PART VI - The Import-Export Equation

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