After Apollo 17, the last manned mission to the moon in 1972, left to come back to Earth, people seemed to check it off their list. The moon hadn’t showed us too much excitement and the next great challenge was calling, Mars. However in 2009, scientist confirmed the existence of water on the Moon’s South Pole, this pointed to the fact that habitation of the Moon is actually possible. Major influencers in the field of space exploration such as Buzz Aldrin, Stephen Hawking, and Johann-Dietrich Worner through their support behind the colonization of the Moon. Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield said it perfectly, “There’s a public appetite for going to Mars right now in a big hurry, but there’s no tech to make it safe enough and affordable.” The Moon being only three days away would be a great place to learn to live in space.
With all of the perks of going back to the Moon, the largest said by Spudis is that we could transform our Earth-based space program into a space-based program, and turn the Moon into our gateway to the galaxy. The Moon has one-sixth of Earth’s gravity meaning that it would be much easier and efficient to launch from the moon. If we colonize the Moon and turn the lunar water into propellent Spudis says this would, “solve the major stumbling block of getting significant mass and power to different places in space.”
Sending the proper amount of materials to the Moon to build a base could cost hundreds of billions of dollars but thankfully Foster and Partners, a London international Architecture company is working on that. They plan to use the materials already on the Moon, most noticeably regolith, the moon dust, to be building blocks for the base. Foster and Partners wants to send a inflatable dome and two robots who would 3-D print the regolith into a shield type structure, this in tandem with the dome would hold four people and protect them from extreme temperatures, meteorites, and radiation.
There ares still major unknowns and issues that we are trying to figure out before we could perform this great feat. For one, the low gravity on the human body has repercussions such as poor circulation, decreased bone density, and weakened muscles. However, longterm consequences are largely unknown and can only really be tested with experience. Also cost would be a very large issue. Spudis came to the conclusion that it would take $88 billion over 16 years as a rough estimate. Gregg Easterbrook, a critic of space colonization, says this extremely foolish, “We’re talking about the entire United States federal budget. At that point, you just laugh. It just doesn’t make any sense.” This may be very true currently but I believe future advancement will greatly decrease the costs and with people like Foster and Partners working with out-of-the-box ideas we are sure to find success.