LDC 2023 Topic: Beyond Lunar Bases and Outposts
It looks like we (meaning the World) are finally getting serious about going back to the Moon. The traditional space powers, as well as new emerging space powers all have plans to establish semi-permanent small scale Lunar bases, settlements, and research stations.
Most of the technology to build, operate and maintain these small-scale structures already exists or is quickly maturing. The planning and funding for many of these missions are already well underway..
At Virtual Moon, we are looking beyond these initial small-scale facilities. We envision a true permanent Lunar city capable of sustaining populations of a few thousand people and largely self-sufficient. Selene is a concept for one such Lunar City.
The idea behind Selene is to evolve a design for the first large scale permanent city on the Moon that could be built and completed by 2045. This requirement for constructability together with a hard target date are key constraints. They force the design to adhere closely to current and near-term technologies while still allowing some time ( about 15 years) for major breakthroughs and advances in critical technology areas that will greatly increase the probability of success.
The 2045 target date is also important because it means it will happen within this generation’s lifetime.
Besides solving the engineering challenges and evolving the required enabling technologies to maturity, a key objective of this project is to inspire and motivate the younger generations to begin work on building our future as a Space Faring Civilization. To prove that this future is within our reach.
Undertaking such a project in the real world would require a major shift of current space objectives as well as a very large commitment of financial resources. We believe we can demonstrate the feasibility of building a city like Selene by using Digital Twins and Virtual Engineering to evolve a constructible design, thereby removing these two major obstacles.
Manuel (Manny) Pimenta is an Electrical Engineer with a Computer Science Master’s degree. He has worked most of his professional life in the Electric Utility industry. He has also worked on airborne radar systems for a major defense contractor. He became involved in space advocacy in 2000. His primary interest is Space colonization and his focus is on establishing a permanent human presence on the Moon. He has been part of several space advocacy organizations: He has been Return To The Moon project manager at the Space Frontier Foundation (SFF), organized two Return To The Moon conferences for the SFF, and has served as Advocate Coordinator. He was a founding member of the Board of Directors for the International Lunar Observatory Association (ILOA). He was also a member of ProSpace and participated in 8 consecutive yearly “March Storm” congressional space lobbying drives in Washington DC. He served as Vice President of the New York City chapter of the National Space Society. In 2004 he founded Lunar Explorer and in 2006 released the world’s first fully immersive, interactive Virtual Reality simulation of the Moon, which was also called Lunar Explorer. He has given presentations at many space conferences, lectured at NYU, Princeton, and Rutgers University, and participated in a number of workshops at NASA Ames. He founded Virtual Moon to create a new and massively updated version of the original Lunar Explorer VR simulation and take advantage of the new consumer level VR technology that we have today but that was not available when Lunar Explorer was originally created. His passion is to create the most accurate and realistic VR simulation of the Moon possible – an experience that is visually indistinguishable from actually being there – and make it available to every single person on Earth who wants to experience it.