Railroads on the Moon? Why not!

Railroad on the Moon


In a 1999 book (an updated edition is due in 2007) “The Moon: Resources, Future Development and Colonization” by David Schrunk, Burton Sharpe, Bonnie Cooper, and Madhu Thangavelu, the authors brought up the concept of a lunar railroad as a primary method of expanding out from the periphery of an innitial outpost towards a global lunar presence. The Amazon.com link below gives more details on the book itself.
Book Cover

The idea was simply introduced, on pp. 93-95, with few details other than a suggestive illustration of a railroad erector, cargo, and power car, which would lay rail sections ahead of it.

Six years earlier, in July 1993, “Railroading on the Moon:A Define & Design Exercise,” the result of an email brainstorming effort of several contriutors, was first published in Moon Miners’ Review #13 and subsequently published online:

In this paper, the authors took up several issues:
– Conventional or Maglev?
– The challenge of thermal expansion of rails
– The need for derailment proof systems
– Concept of the “Train”, several cars linked together
– Locomotive Power Options

The following illustrations from this paper will serve as a teaser:

Competing maglev schemes
Competing MagLev Systems

Shading the rails: three of many options
3 ways to shade the rails

Anti-derailment options:
roller coaster type rail grippers

Anti_derailment options: center box
Center Box Rail

Anti-derailment systems: lowered center of gravity
lower center of gravity

In an upcoming issue of Moon Miners’ Manifesto (April or May 2007?) we will take up this topic again, in an effort to go beyond the two previous papers and to identify issues not previously taken up.

Peter Kokh