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A Moon Base Made From Lunar Dust

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the using-what-you-got dept.

Moon 115

Zothecula writes "The race to build a manned research station on the moon has been slowly picking up steam in recent years, with several developed nations actively studying a variety of construction methods. In just the past few months, the European Space Agency revealed a design involving 3D-printed structures and the Russian Federal Space Agency announced plans for a moon base by 2037. Now international design agency, Architecture Et Cetera (A-ETC), has thrown its hat into the ring with a proposal for SinterHab, a moon base consisting of bubble-like compartments coated in a protective layer of melted lunar dust."

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Ancient idea plus buzzword=news? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43202927)

frosty piss

Caves (1)

sanman2 (928866) | about a year and a half ago | (#43209335)

Why not just find some caves or lava tubes to set up a base in? If caves were good enough for our early ancestors to start off in here on Earth, then why not do the same for early living on the Moon? At least caves will give you much better shielding from solar and cosmic rays as well as meteoroid strikes.

Once you're in the cave, then you can start off with whatever hab is convenient, and then gradually expand it until you've converted the entire cavern or lava tube into one giant living space. Just be sure to include internal bulkheads or compartments, so that one leak doesn't kill everybody.

Cart Before The Horse (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43202957)

Why worry about the moonbase construction material when you can't even land on the moon?

First things first.

Re:Cart Before The Horse (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year and a half ago | (#43203069)

Why worry about the moonbase construction material when you can't even land on the moon?

First things first.

Unless you have a plan for what you are going to do when you land, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to sink a bunch of money into developing the ability to land. Especially since the moon is so hostile, and not at the top of the list in terms of pure scientific interest, you really need a viable plan for your ground game before it becomes remotely worth the hassle.

This is 'first things first'.

Re:Cart Before The Horse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43203571)

Unless you have a plan for what you are going to do when you land, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to sink a bunch of money into developing the ability to land.

So, we must develop a plan to build a mooonbase, in order to justify developing the ability to land on the moon? And what is the plan/purpose to justify building the moonbase? Vacation home?

Your logic is as fuzzy as your name.

Re:Cart Before The Horse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43203963)

So, we must develop a plan to build a mooonbase, in order to justify developing the ability to land on the moon? And what is the plan/purpose to justify building the moonbase? Vacation home?

Your logic is as fuzzy as your name.

Engineering practice, as a thought experiment, the costs are minimal, and take up no significant resources. Not to mention how they'd be widely applicable across a variety of environments.

And that's even assuming that nobody could point out the obvious reasons to have a lunar base.

Sorry, but your counter-arguments fail to persuade.

Re:Cart Before The Horse (1)

sanman2 (928866) | about a year and a half ago | (#43209361)

I like the Russian idea of building a Robot Base first. Robots are the ideal approach to pave the way for an eventual permanent manned presence. Robots don't need air, or special care, and can be made to withstand the harsh lunar environment without any adverse effects. Nobody cares whether robots "live or die".

Robots should become the "local native" staff over there, so that visiting humans can easily drop in unannounced, without a lot of extensive planning beforehand.

Re:Cart Before The Horse (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year and a half ago | (#43204113)

So, we must develop a plan to build a mooonbase, in order to justify developing the ability to land on the moon?

Yes. You should have a plan before you build anything.

And what is the plan/purpose to justify building the moonbase?

1. A second home for our species
2. A science lab
3. A base for exploitation of lunar resources, including ice and metals
4. A dormitory for the miners, construction workers and robot repairmen

Re:Cart Before The Horse (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year and a half ago | (#43204245)

So, we must develop a plan to build a mooonbase, in order to justify developing the ability to land on the moon?

Yes. You should have a plan before you build anything.

And what is the plan/purpose to justify building the moonbase?

1. A second home for our species
2. A science lab
3. A base for exploitation of lunar resources, including ice and metals
4. A dormitory for the miners, construction workers and robot repairmen

5. A handy plot device for sci-fi novels [wikipedia.org]

Re:Cart Before The Horse (2)

Ol Biscuitbarrel (1859702) | about a year and a half ago | (#43205123)

Don't forget you need a base for the Interceptors and Moon Mobiles. [cloudster.com]

Re:Cart Before The Horse (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year and a half ago | (#43205535)

Heh, I like the part in that link where they talk about the weapons carriers having "surface-to-air missiles."

Surface-to-air missiles... on the moon...

Classic.

Re:Cart Before The Horse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43206295)

Sounds reasonable. On Earth there is no surface-to-air. Once launched it is automatically in the air.
When launched from the moon there is a necessity to travel across a significant empty area to reach air. On the moon it makes sense to make a distinction between regular missiles and surface-to-air missiles.

Re:Cart Before The Horse (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year and a half ago | (#43206643)

Don't forget you need a base for the Interceptors and Moon Mobiles. [cloudster.com]

I wonder why they didn't at least try to film the explosions in vacuum. Would have been much more believable. But the show was very cheap, as I recall. (Complete with violet hair. :-))

Re:Cart Before The Horse (1)

Ol Biscuitbarrel (1859702) | about a year and a half ago | (#43207235)

UFO creator Gerry Anderson died last December, in the comments for the story about it here a lot of people pointed out that the show actually was quite expensive for its time. Appearances to the contrary. ;) Actually, if you think about it, all those ultra-exotic costumes and sets couldn't have been dirt cheap to fashion. It's not like TOS where the crew just happens to conveniently land on a planet where the natives are all decked out in Nazi garb from the studio's wardrobes. Many are more impressed by UFO's very detailed models and squib explosions than the cheesy CG that you see so often today, too.

Re:Cart Before The Horse (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year and a half ago | (#43207469)

UFO creator Gerry Anderson died last December, in the comments for the story about it here a lot of people pointed out that the show actually was quite expensive for its time. Appearances to the contrary. ;)

I happen to understand that, and I know that it was the same for Star Trek. I didn't mean "cheap financially", I meant the impression that it left in me. There are different things you may attempt to do in a show's production, and all have different impression/cost ratio (quite a lot of them have something to do with the general principle that not showing something to the viewers is often more effective than the alternative, and always cheaper). What I meant is that the explosions don't fall out with the general impression I got from watching it when I was ten or so.

Re:Cart Before The Horse (1)

Grizzley9 (1407005) | about a year and a half ago | (#43204335)

So, we must develop a plan to build a mooonbase, in order to justify developing the ability to land on the moon?

Yes. You should have a plan before you build anything.

And what is the plan/purpose to justify building the moonbase?

1. A second home for our species 2. A science lab 3. A base for exploitation of lunar resources, including ice and metals 4. A dormitory for the miners, construction workers and robot repairmen

Those are nice goals and nobody's knocking those as secondary objectives. Your number one goal will never suffice unless there is an immediate threat. Though the GP is correct, there has to be a larger incentive to spend that amount of resources for this, more than 'this would be nice to do'. And in today's world that, unfortunately, means payoff. Perhaps many sci-fi movies/books had it right, space exploration will be done need to be done by corporations.

Re:Cart Before The Horse (1, Insightful)

delt0r (999393) | about a year and a half ago | (#43203731)

And yet this still does not give us a real why? What is the point of sending radiation intolerant, oxygen consuming meat bags on the moon? Its not science. For the same budget we can get much more done with even robotic probes. Its not 3He, for one there almost nothing there (1-50ppb) and we can't even burn DT let alone 3He which is ~60x harder to do. So we can learn how to go to mars? For what? To do what? Again science is best done by machines that handle the environment.

And no this is *nothing* like going to the new world. This is not even comparable to colonising the outback of Australia or Antarctica.

Re:Cart Before The Horse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43204353)

And no this is *nothing* like going to the new world. This is not even comparable to colonising the outback of Australia or Antarctica.

+5 Insightful, Needs to be Repeated.

Re:Cart Before The Horse (3, Insightful)

TangoMargarine (1617195) | about a year and a half ago | (#43204525)

So *when* (not if) some extinction-level (or mass-destruction-and-suffering-level, anyway) event happens to Earth, humans don't go extinct? How's that a reason for ya?

Re:Cart Before The Horse (0)

delt0r (999393) | about a year and a half ago | (#43204667)

That is seriously the best you can come up with? We have, in all probability (ie the same probability that the said event won't also take out the moon), thousands of years before then. We don't need to rush with every last penny for a tiny handful of NASA pilots to go to the moon and mars now.

Re:Cart Before The Horse (1)

TangoMargarine (1617195) | about a year and a half ago | (#43208827)

I would consider it a pretty damn compelling reason. I'm not saying we steal from education to fund it...maybe just cut military spending by 25% or so. Without a sense of urgency, it never gets addressed. And I for one am not willing to gamble on "oh, it won't happen in my lifetime" until it finally does.

Re:Cart Before The Horse (0)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year and a half ago | (#43206741)

You'd need a much larger infrastructure to ensure that your plan succeeds if you remove Earth from the equation. Let's say your first Earth re-colonization after The Big Event fails. Even if you still have people on the Moon, how do you get them back to Earth? Your ships are gone. How do you survive the years before that? The spare parts won't come anymore. You'll have to have a complete new electronic industry on the Moon. Now remember, the silicon processing facilities we use on Earth are very large, among other things. Even if you find ways of 3d-printing everything, the 3d-printers themselves are bound to be sufficiently problematic to manufacture. In short, you may find yourself lacking the tools for manufacturing the tools to manufacture stuff. Unless you're reasonably sure to be *completely* self-sufficient, up to and including all the fuel sources, your expensive plan to make us feel better is exactly that - just an expensive plan to make us feel better, without any actual survival value.

Re:Cart Before The Horse (1)

cusco (717999) | about a year and a half ago | (#43207945)

Boy, I'm sure glad that someone told my great-great-grandparents that when they went to homestead in the wilds of northern Michigan they'd never be able to buy a new plow harness if they broke one, since of course no one could make such a thing on their own. Oh, wait . . .

Not sure why you think it would be the cast of Jersey Shore that would choose to go live on an extra-planetary colony, and that they'd leave all the accumulated knowledge of humanity back on Earth.

Re:Cart Before The Horse (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year and a half ago | (#43208485)

Boy, I'm sure glad that someone told my great-great-grandparents that when they went to homestead in the wilds of northern Michigan they'd never be able to buy a new plow harness if they broke one, since of course no one could make such a thing on their own. Oh, wait . . .

Talk about a horrible analogy.

Not sure why you think it would be the cast of Jersey Shore that would choose to go live on an extra-planetary colony, and that they'd leave all the accumulated knowledge of humanity back on Earth.

Knowledge is useless if you don't have a self-sufficient closed technological ecosystem to jump-start the production of whatever you discover that you need. A lunar base with six people on it won't cut it. A lunar base with a few hundred people *might* cut it, if you equip them with manufacturing technologies we don't happen to have yet, and with vast computers to supply them with expert knowledge that you can't expect a small group of people to have. And even if you send your best and brightest there, their kids won't be the same. How many brilliant people have you seen born in a village of 500 people? How many Edisons and Fords would such a lunar village produce if they decided to reconquest the Earth? Keep in mind that in case of a major catastrophe on Earth, you might have to wait for a very long time before the planets becomes reasonably habitable again.

Re:Cart Before The Horse (1)

TangoMargarine (1617195) | about a year and a half ago | (#43208843)

It will of course be very complicated and expensive, sure. But it's all the more important to get there if the first colony fails. We learn from our mistakes and do it right the second time. Why do you think it took until Apollo 11 to get to the moon? (Okay, so maybe that's not the best example.)

Re:Cart Before The Horse (4, Interesting)

dywolf (2673597) | about a year and a half ago | (#43204043)

The desert was hostile too.
So was the arctic.
And the ocean.
And beneath it.
And atmosphere above 15k feet.
Hostility to human life is simply an engineering problem, and each of these, including space, has been solved.

Moon base construction 101:
First off, large facilities on the surface are out the window, unless absolutely needed. Good for TV, bad for actual use.

Everything that can be gets built/housed under the surface. Companies and engineers with experience building pressure tight subsurface/subsea tunnels could make a killing bringing that experience to the moon. Again, it's a solved engineering problem. This solves the multiple problems of pressure vessel, habitat, dominant construction material, meteorite impact, and so on.

Main objective of the base? If it's not science, then it must be industry. Which makes perfect sense actually. There are vast resources in the solar system to be exploited, but returning them to Earth to be refined is problematic. We can't really get them down to the surface easily...and if they're destined to go back into space, thats rather hard to do on a large scale too. And refining in orbit is problematic because of multiple factors: some processes require gravity, orbital stations need to be protected from debris, large enough to do meaningful refinement, yet small enough to be launched into orbit.... But the moon simplifies a lot of these. You dont need to build the large space station or launch it (re, first apragraph stuff). Still has gravity, which keeps many existing refining processes practical (ie, no need develope new special process that may not yeild results that conform to known engineering..such as steel alloy design/use). Yet not nearly as big of a gravity well, so getting on and off the surface is much easier.

Do the refining there, and then send the finished material back to Earth (if that's its destination). Much more useful to send 6 tons (let's say) of finished steel (again, let's say) back to earth, than 6 tons of unprocessed iron ore that would only yeild say 2-3 tons of finished steel. Or if its destined to be used in space, good news, cause it's already there. Nearly. Certainly far easier than climbing back out of earth's gravity well. Long duration mission to Mars, sending more than a handful of folks on a scientific journey? Need a fairly large, comfortable, transport for them, more than a traditional capsule? Build it on the moon!

Plus doing it for the first time on the moon, getting the experience, learning the engineering lessons that ALWAYS result from these sorts of endeavors, relatively safe and near to home, instead of doing it for the first time a billion miles and 3 years away.

Re:Cart Before The Horse (2)

Poeli (573204) | about a year and a half ago | (#43204247)

The desert was hostile too.
So was the arctic.
And the ocean.
And beneath it.
And atmosphere above 15k feet.

They are all still very hostile to humans. None of those places support permanent human life. We can survice there, but only for a little while. You always need a vast influx of energy/materials from the outside. And that is very expensive on the moon.

Re:Cart Before The Horse (1)

dywolf (2673597) | about a year and a half ago | (#43204945)

Leaving aside that there are much permanant human life in the desert, arctic, and mountain monestaries...humans also have a vast capability to bring supplies with them. Subs stay submerged for as many as 9 months at a time. 500 people, tiny metal tube, enough food for 9 months.

You're only helping make my point: these are solved engineering problems. and while i made no mention of cost, like it or not, the cost of not doing it on the moon (such as say, in orbit, or on earth's surface) is far greater.

Re:Cart Before The Horse (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year and a half ago | (#43206803)

Subs stay submerged for as many as 9 months at a time.

Since when? In normal deployment? I thought that there are 3-month cycles for SSBNs. The people would go crazy if you had them stay for nine months at a time.

Re:Cart Before The Horse (1)

Palamos (1379347) | about a year and a half ago | (#43208773)

The only reason that the engineering problems required to keep 500 people under water for 9 months were solved is that it was necessary for the purposes of warfare. Find a cast iron warfare benefit of a base on the moon then you have your source of funds. Cynical but true.

Re:Cart Before The Horse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43206963)

Unless you have a plan for what you are going to do when you land, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to sink a bunch of money into developing the ability to land. Especially since the moon is so hostile...

You know those overflowing jails in the US you've got there -- here's the solution. Worked before for Australia and I'm sure the inhabitants won't put up much of a fight.

Re:Cart Before The Horse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43207605)

+5 Insightful for not hearing the massive WHOOSH of the joke going over your head. Good job, dipshits... I mean "mods".

Re:Cart Before The Horse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43203077)

We cannot afford another moon trip. We are spending our kids' and grandkids' money as it is.

Re:Cart Before The Horse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43203475)

The current GDP of the United States is something over 15 trillion dollars. What makes you think we can't afford to go to the moon?

Are you one of those people who uses a Credit Card, refuses to pay it off, and then thinks they are bankrupt? While setting in a house filled to the brim with assets?

I can accept the argument of wanting something more out of landing on the Moon than a few glamour-shots, but the idea that the US is somehow destitute? Utter fabrication.

Not true (2)

bussdriver (620565) | about a year and a half ago | (#43203601)

NASA costs about $8 per year in taxes for most Americans. If most Americans want to do something with NASA they can afford to give up 1 pizza per year. Even doubling the funding is feasible. The debt and deficit matters amount to larger problems that actually have little to do with spending and more to do with the broken political system, ignorant public, and incompetent/corrupt media. If we spent $10 per year we could properly fund PBS and somewhat restore the press to what the founders had; (Yes, the founders subsidized the press and by a whole lot more too.)

FYI: I'm opposed to the whole program including going to mars.

Re:Not true (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43207087)

NASA costs about $8 per year in taxes for most Americans.

In other words about half of the total of all the taxes an average American pays.

Re:Cart Before The Horse (1)

SpaceMonkies (2868125) | about a year and a half ago | (#43203151)

The USA landed on the moon 44 years ago, we can do it again today. Being prepared is a good thing. It won't be many decades before there is an American colony on the moon.

Not A Nutter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43203461)

I'm not one of these nutters that denies the U.S. moon landing. My point was that the U.S. presently has no viable program for human space flight. They can't even reach the space station, let alone land on the moon.

Today, NO ONE is capable of landing on the moon. True the technology exists, but no program could safely put a man on the moon in under a few years!

It's a sad sad regression.

It won't be many decades before there is an American colony on the moon.

I'll wager that it will be well beyond 50 years before there is a colony, of any nationality, on the moon. The first question is why should there be one?

Re:Not A Nutter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43206743)

"They can't even reach the space station, let alone land on the moon"

Look up the X-37B OTV that the Air force has been flying for the past 5 years. Not only can it get to orbit, it can alter it's orbit and if desired dock with the space station, deploy satellites, or even interfere with other countries space assets. Let someone else worry about space station supply runs. The vehicle is the next generation of re-usable space vehicles developed using all the operational data of the old space shuttle.

Re:Cart Before The Horse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43203615)

The USA landed on the moon 44 years ago, we can do it again today. Being prepared is a good thing. It won't be many decades before there is an American colony on the moon.

I guarantee you that we can definitely NOT land on the moon today.

Re:Cart Before The Horse (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | about a year and a half ago | (#43205301)

Well obviously, it's a 100 hour trip after all (assuming you use the Apollo 11 mission profile) :)

Re:Cart Before The Horse (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about a year and a half ago | (#43204513)

In layman's, why would anybody want to live on the moon? what possible advantage is there?

FUCK YOU BOBBY BALTIMORE! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43207587)

no telemarketers from UPS^WPublishsers' Clearninghouse for starters.

Re:Cart Before The Horse (2)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about a year and a half ago | (#43203307)

. . . build the moonbase first . . . and they will come . . .

Re:Cart Before The Horse (1)

hattig (47930) | about a year and a half ago | (#43203369)

I would imagine that the human trip to the moon would be *after* all the robotic colony printers have done their work in building the external structures.

If the structures that are built are robust (especially in regard to flaking away when rubbed/hit/etc) enough, then even furniture could be printed using this mechanism.

And these robots can keep on building stuff, as long as they are powered. As soon as the first module is built, it can build another module, and structures between modules. All we need to do is get the inflatable protective air-tight internal structures on the moon to be installed inside them. And lots of solar panels to mount on the outside. And some means of extracting water and air from the rocks (although initially these would be sent from Earth as well).

For each year of refinement to the equipment done here before launch, I'm sure many many years of work on the moon would be saved, as the equipment becomes more reliable, robust, useful, flexible, and faster.

Re:Cart Before The Horse (3, Funny)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about a year and a half ago | (#43204553)

All we need to do is get the inflatable protective air-tight internal structures on the moon

Would give a whole new meaning to not running with scissors.

Re:Cart Before The Horse (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about a year and a half ago | (#43204641)

The moon. For several years, she has fascinated many. But
will man ever walk on her fertile surface?
Democratic hopeful Adlai Stevenson says so.
I have no objection to man walking on the moon.
By 1964, experts say man will have established twelve
colonies on the moon, ideal for family vacations.
Once there, you'll weigh only a small percentage of what
you weigh on Earth.
Slow down, tubby! You're not on the moon yet!
The moon belongs to America, and anxiously awaits the
arrival of our astro-men. Will you be among them?

Pay attention! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43203017)

Sintered != melted.

Re:Pay attention! (2)

LeadSongDog (1120683) | about a year and a half ago | (#43203187)

Mod parent up. Sintering is closer to baking. But solar heat is cheap and plentiful on the moon, with periodic availability. Use it to make lego bricks and automate the process of lego assembly. No need for rebar, as moonquakes are not severe. After the structure is up, all the bricks are compressed and strong. Spray the interior to seal pores. Add air.

Re:Pay attention! (2)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about a year and a half ago | (#43203391)

Mod parent up. Sintering is closer to baking. But solar heat is cheap and plentiful on the moon, with periodic availability. Use it to make lego bricks and automate the process of lego assembly. No need for rebar, as moonquakes are not severe. After the structure is up, all the bricks are compressed and strong. Spray the interior to seal pores. Add air.

The lego moonbase set was my favorite as a kid.

Re:Pay attention! (2)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about a year and a half ago | (#43203407)

The lego moonbase set was my favorite as a kid.

Wait, who am I kidding? It's still my favorite!

Re:Pay attention! (1)

dkf (304284) | about a year and a half ago | (#43203733)

The lego moonbase set was my favorite as a kid.

Wait, who am I kidding? It's still my favorite!

Lego: because none of us really wanted to grow up. (I preferred building factories though, with conveyors, sorters, hoppers, etc. Lots of repurposed bricks, and a thing of wonder when it worked, sorting bricks by size automatically...)

Re:Pay attention! (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a year and a half ago | (#43204347)

That's cool. Best I ever did was a three speed transmission.

Re:Pay attention! (1)

delt0r (999393) | about a year and a half ago | (#43203769)

well you may need some sort of rebar. You are probably going to have some cantilevered roofs or something. But it need not be rebar. Fiber reinforced. Lots of silica on the moon.

Re:Pay attention! (3, Interesting)

garyebickford (222422) | about a year and a half ago | (#43203961)

The classic cathedrals of Europe were all built using the compressive strength of stone, without any significant tensile elements. So it is possible to build domes and vaults of essentially arbitrary size without rebar. And the moon does not have significant issues with the ground shifting under the structures. Having said that, I won't argue that's the right way to do things! :D But it certainly might be for the early structures. I don't recall who, but some university is already experimenting with a '3D printer' that builds room-sized structures out of something similar to moon dust.

My own group, Space Finance Group, is considering putting together funding for some experiments related to this.

Re:Pay attention! (1)

hattig (47930) | about a year and a half ago | (#43204107)

For a one or two story arched roof that is printed (sintered) in place as one solid construction? In 1/6th the Earth's gravity? I'm sure the lack of rebar will not be a problem.

Now when they're printing domes to cover entire craters, then they might need a means to strengthen the structure. And much as I would like that to happen within twenty years, I suspect it will be more like two hundred years before this happens.

Re:Pay attention! (1)

delt0r (999393) | about a year and a half ago | (#43204533)

good point. Totally forgot about the gravity thing. In fact you could probably do some insane architecte on the moon.

buzzword bingo /. edition: (3, Funny)

Thud457 (234763) | about a year and a half ago | (#43203027)

Only if John McAfee pays for it with bitcoins mined with an Beowulf cluster of Arduinos.

Re:buzzword bingo /. edition: (1)

wbr1 (2538558) | about a year and a half ago | (#43203081)

Beowulf cluster is dated. The proper term is cloud based.

Re:buzzword bingo /. edition: (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a year and a half ago | (#43203133)

Imagine a cloud of Beowulf clusters!

Re:buzzword bingo /. edition: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43203311)

Yo dawg we heard u lieked clusters so we put a cluster in your cluster so you can compute while you compute!

Re:buzzword bingo /. edition: (2)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year and a half ago | (#43203127)

A Beowulf cluster of Arduinos emulated in Minecraft running on a Raspberry Pi.

Which I won't believe unless it's announced at SXSW.

Re:buzzword bingo /. edition: (1)

stewsters (1406737) | about a year and a half ago | (#43203139)

Top marks sir, but you forgot that the first inhabitants will be Julian Assange and Kim Dotcom, on the run from the law. They will operate a pirate bay server up there, away from worldly copyright and patent trolls. Like Sealand, it will be immune to censorship.

Re:buzzword bingo /. edition: (1)

wbr1 (2538558) | about a year and a half ago | (#43203195)

Will it be funded by the EFF or the Pirate Party? And will it be powered by thorium reactors and Higgs Bosons?

The only plan that makes sense... (3, Insightful)

Covalent (1001277) | about a year and a half ago | (#43203111)

...for a moon base is to use native materials. The cost of launching all of the base's construction materials to the moon would render the project prohibitively expensive. The notion of digging into the moon and building sub-surface bases runs into a similar problem: digging equipment is big and heavy. To my mind, this is one of only two economically feasible ways to build a lunar base (the other being to use existing lava tubes or caves).

Now, that's not to say this method would be cheap, but it would certainly be cheaper than building a base from materials brought entirely from Earth.

Re:The only plan that makes sense... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43203233)

This is what is wrong with people today..... Everything has to be as easy and must in no way involve manual labor.... Mining equipment.... BAH

Just few hundred years ago we were digging tunnels with showels!

Re:The only plan that makes sense... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43203321)

...we were digging tunnels with showels!

Wait what... with these?? [showels.com] Damn, back to the history books I go.

Re:The only plan that makes sense... (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year and a half ago | (#43203519)

This is what is wrong with people today..... Everything has to be as easy and must in no way involve manual labor.... Mining equipment.... BAH

Just few hundred years ago we were digging tunnels with showels!

Do you know how expensive it would be to ship enough Irish or Chinamen to the moon to dig the tunnels? Even if we packed them like sardines in the steerage section, and limited their whiskey and tea rations, that's still a lot to carry out of the gravity well...

self replicating... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43203871)

protip: they breed like rabbits.

Manny speaking in "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress":

Could dump two chinee down in one of our maria and they would get rich selling rocks to each other while raising twelve kids.

OK, so the next sentence goes on to give a further left-handed compliment to Hindus, not Irishmen, but close enough.

Re:The only plan that makes sense... (1)

dywolf (2673597) | about a year and a half ago | (#43205105)

keep in mind, digging equipment is big and heavy on earth because it has to be; it has to support its weight and the weight of material. but on the moon, that weight is much less. an earth mover that could support a 40ton load on earth could support ~240tons on the moon.

And a 15ft tunnel borer could fit in the shuttle bay. For simplicity though, probably just put it on a heavy lifter and inside an aero shell. Once boosted to orbit, fit it with robotic guidance and rocket package to get it to the moon. Once initial tunnels are cleared out and end caps in place, ordinary human and robotic labor can mine out chambers by hand, or with such equipment as is needed.

And there's also always that most classic of mining tools, from the time before big machinery: Dynamite.

Not a bad idea (4, Funny)

wbr1 (2538558) | about a year and a half ago | (#43203117)

It is plentiful, you just have to engineer the printers to use the material, which may be difficult as there is not much of the real stuff to test with.
The last thing you want is a popup saying "HP LunarJet 1050P has detected a nonstandard or refilled cartridge. Printing suspended."

Re:Not a bad idea (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a year and a half ago | (#43203159)

IIRC one of the first things NASA did with moon dust was 'knock it off',

It's just minerals. Micro structure is no-doubt different, but people have been thinking about using it sense the 60s. Granting then they were planning on making 'crete out of it.

Re:Not a bad idea (2)

wbr1 (2538558) | about a year and a half ago | (#43203231)

Lunar regolith is just minerals, but the structure is different. Dust and grains on earth tend to be rounded and smooth due to erosion. Not so on the moon, it is largely sharp and jagged. It holds footprints without slumping as a result [Mythbusters 1].
I am sure there are artificial substances that can be tested, but there's nothing like the real thing baby!
More Info [wikipedia.org]

Re:Not a bad idea (3, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year and a half ago | (#43203365)

Even better, it apparently manages some wonderful static cling in the nonconductive lunar vacuum. Razor sharp, unweathered dust, peppered with glassy melt products from micrometeorite impacts, that static-clings like mad to anything it gets on. Probably eats any machinery whose lubricants it contaminates for breakfast, and I wouldn't be too optimistic about breathing the stuff that will end up getting tracked into the habitubes. Silicosis is a bitch of a way to die.

Re:Not a bad idea (2)

ModernGeek (601932) | about a year and a half ago | (#43207661)

I believe this is one reason why the new suits are entered through the back and directly attach and detach from the ship. When the Apollo astronauts went to the moon, they brought their suit in with them and would get moon dust all over them. Now do this with a long duration stay, or on Mars where we know even less about the soil, and we have a real problem. The Z1 Suit solves a lot of cross contamination issues. Granted, this solves almost no problems in the arena of making a base out of local materials.

Re:Not a bad idea (1)

wbr1 (2538558) | about a year and a half ago | (#43203171)

Hmm, a joke about HP printers gets modded flamebait. I didn't know HP could afford /. shills.

Re:Not a bad idea (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year and a half ago | (#43203557)

Hmm, a joke about HP printers gets modded flamebait. I didn't know HP could afford /. shills.

The problem was that you made a joke that implied that an HP printer would last long enough to empty its starter cartridge...

Back in the heroic age, toner was cheap and the printer was built such that anything short of small arms fire wouldn't perturb it(though the firmware on the jetdirects was always total shit, even then).

During the silver age, the printers were still pretty decent; but they bled you dry on the ink.

Now, the printers are so ghastly that you'll be lucky to have yours live long enough to accept the overpriced replacement cartridges.

Moon dust is nasty stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43203177)

I remember reading that moon dust is problematic due to it's microscopic properties. Since there is no atmosphere, moisture, bacteria, etc, each particle has razor sharp edges that make it nasty and abrasive to just about everything man made. On earth those rough edges get rounded down by weathering and other factors.

I imagine it would be a health hazard to, if inhaled. (Something akin to silicosis?) Then again, maybe it can't be much worse that volcanic ash.

Moon dust base (1)

zeroryoko1974 (2634611) | about a year and a half ago | (#43203243)

Life imitating the anime Space Brothers. Awesome

BEWARE, COWARD! (1)

Thud457 (234763) | about a year and a half ago | (#43203257)

They should totally fund this, just for the name " Sinterator ".

Old news! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43203267)

Didn't Aparture Science already use the dust for coating stuff?!?!?!

Moon-brick machine (5, Interesting)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year and a half ago | (#43203305)

A while back one of the universities (I want to say in the Southwest US, AZ maybe) had a project to build a machine to make bricks out of moon dust; their process also liberated oxygen and hydrogen from the dust, which could be bottled for human use. As I understood it they had a fully-working prototype.

Anybody know what happened to this?

Re:Moon-brick machine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43204635)

A while back one of the universities (I want to say in the Southwest US, AZ maybe) had a project to build a machine to make bricks out of moon dust; their process also liberated oxygen and hydrogen from the dust, which could be bottled for human use. As I understood it they had a fully-working prototype.

Anybody know what happened to this?

Yeah, it was vaporized in an accident, never to see the light of day.

Just send up a large 3D Printing robot (0)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | about a year and a half ago | (#43203433)

Cause according to /., 3D printing is the solution for everything these days.

So, have all the Sci Fi fans dies=d? (2)

TrentTheThief (118302) | about a year and a half ago | (#43203455)

Holy crap. There have been dozens of moon/asteroid/airless-planet habitat ideas published since the 40's. While not all of them were well reasoned and possible, a huge number of them were. All that was lacking when the stories were written was a way to get there and the material technology to build the damned things. Most of those issues were resolved decades back.

Don't hail the sintered dome idea a new, unless you want to be in the same category as people raving about "new and improved" dish detergent. The idea's already been written about. But then, so have most of the habitat ideas.

and just who would do the mining? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43203643)

of course, we're already training the next generation of professional mine-by-wire operators. just like the generation Y's infactuation with flight simulators as children transforming into modern day uav pilots, so too will generation Z's Minecrafters bring the future of mankind!

Melting Sand with fresnel lense (3, Funny)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about a year and a half ago | (#43203933)

I once watched a video from an "artist" who has built a kind of 3D plotter using a fresnel lense to melt sand. When I saw that I immediately thought: that is how you built on the moon.

Perhaps someone knows that video and can link it?

Re:Melting Sand with fresnel lense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43204465)

This perhaps? http://blog.makezine.com/2011/06/25/solar-sinter-project-3d-printing-with-sunlight-and-sand/

A lot of these ideas are overlooking one thing (2)

eksith (2776419) | about a year and a half ago | (#43204179)

Lunar dust is a recipe for Silicosis. It looks like broken shards of glass under a microscope and that's because there's no weathering, nothing to smooth the edges, and breathing in this stuff for any length of time will make short work of your lungs. If they're gonna build it with melted lunar dust, it would have to be bloody well melted and that's including the floor. If bits and pieces chip off as you're walking or bringing in machinery from the outside, it's still no good.

The moon ain't Tatooine. You can't just slap together some domes, filter the air and make it habitable. If the astronauts are still confined to suites, that would get old pretty quick.

The astronauts will still have to wear filtering masks even if they manage to maintain a normal atmosphere inside. Living/sleeping quarters will effectively have to be clean rooms. Can their "bio-regenerative life support system" take care of the airborne stray particles of lunar dust? If HEPA type filtering is involved, they'll become useless pretty quick. Talk about swimming up a waterfall.

Re:A lot of these ideas are overlooking one thing (2)

TrentTheThief (118302) | about a year and a half ago | (#43204451)

It should be possible to remove the dust using static electricity. Back in the vinyl LP days, there were a couple of systems that used static electricty to make dust "jump" off an LP. Considering the system's cost and that it was a consumer product, there's probably "professional" version that does the job quite well.

Re:A lot of these ideas are overlooking one thing (1)

Kjella (173770) | about a year and a half ago | (#43205079)

If you can build a dome, just hang an airtight inner layer from the dome like a tent. If you don't need any structural strength except to avoid tears and no environmental exposure you should be able to bring something far, far lighter than you otherwise would. Yes, they would need some fancy kind of airlock to make sure it doesn't contaminate the insides but I imagine it would in practice be the opening of the space suit, you step into the space suit and is on the "outside", you back up to the same opening, a gizmo cleans the back of the space suit and you step out of the suit into the living/sleeping quarters. All other equipment and machinery that doesn't have to be brought into the clean area is left on the outside.

In particular, this kind of solution has a lot more potential for redundancy and expansion, imagine a network of domes with interlocking tunnels with air seals. If all you need from earth is more interior coating and air (if you could extract nitrogen on the Moon, possibly just oxygen) while the people on-site build the domes you could save a lot more in the long run. Of course this doesn't really give us any more reasons why we should make a moon base in the first place, but it's pretty certain that in any cost/benefit evaluation lower cost always helps. It's also quite probably more hostile than Mars, even though Mars is much further away and more complicated to do so if we can make it work there, we can probably make it work on Mars too.

Re:A lot of these ideas are overlooking one thing (1)

eksith (2776419) | about a year and a half ago | (#43205549)

They would still need to implement those "air shower" type apparatus in clean rooms to dust away the spacesuites as much as possible before getting out of them. Still there would be some exposure. The the seals around the airlocks would still be roughed up by some of these particulates which will eventually require frequent maintenance and maybe even replacement.

I like TrentTheThief's static cleaner suggestion as that will have the fewest problems from blockage.

We had better work out all these issues on the Moon though. The Moon, as you say, is harsher than Mars so anything we take there would have to work nextdoor first.

moon dust=solvable problem (1)

globaljustin (574257) | about a year and a half ago | (#43207047)

Silicosis...breathing in...will make short work of your lungs...pieces chip off as you're walking or bringing in machinery from the outside, it's still no good.

This is a simple construction problem. I grew up in the residential construction biz and worked on commercial/industrial projects (including a NIST expansion at their Boulder facility...really!)

You can cover the entire inner structure with a plastic sheeting. Just like the roof of a greenhouse only inside....or the bed of your flower garden to keep out weeds. Simple process. It's what they do to certain asbestos buildings to do repair as well. Very common.

There really is no reason not to be on the moon right now. It's beauracratic nonsense that is keeping us. That is all.

Combustable Lemons? (1)

tkohler (806572) | about a year and a half ago | (#43204263)

Moon dust is toxic. Look what happened to Cave Johnson.

How will they decorate it though? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43204371)

What on earth (literally) do you take with you to put in a moon base? Chairs? Tables? It all has to be flat pack and taken over or made over on the moon - the logistics of simply 'having stuff' will be impossible. Maybe they should take one of these to brighten up what is bound to be a sterile base! http://www.houseofducentis.com/mirrors/star-mirrors/starburst-convex-mirror.html [houseofducentis.com] Even better what they could do is make sure the whole thing is not painted silver - Also how will natrual light be let in? Will a variable tint be required?

Apollo 18 (1)

clam666 (1178429) | about a year and a half ago | (#43204699)

I know all about how the Apollo [wikipedia.org] program went.. The moondust will just walk off, then kill everyone. Screw that.

use the Decepticons for this. (1)

Pharoah_69 (2866937) | about a year and a half ago | (#43205821)

I think they are proposing using the lunar dust as a cement filler, to make concrete and such. Therefore, they just need some mixers and water. They will probably create bunkers underground from surface mines. On another note and without getting too technical, we should just let the Decepticons and KKK to handle this mission.

lava tubes (1)

confused one (671304) | about a year and a half ago | (#43208011)

OK, while this may be a cool idea, assuming you could get there... Why build a complete structure of limited size when there are numerous known lava tubes. You just need to seal a large one off and you could have as large a living space as you need.
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