Science & Technology

What could a lunar base really do for humanity?

We are capable of going to the moon, so why haven’t we stayed there. What kind of possible benefits could a base on the moon offer?

Humans have been constrained to the earth for our whole existence. If we ever want to leave and explore our galaxy, going to the moon might be the first step. It is better to walk before you run and the moon would be a great way to take that first step.

One of the many benefits of having a moon base is that the gravity on the moon is much weaker than the Earth’s. This means it requires a lot less energy and fuel to get off the moon in comparison to the earth. A moon base could act as a pit stop for deeper space exploration to planets like Mars. Pit-stopping at the moon before going to Mars would reduce the mass of a Mars mission by up to 68 percent, resulting in significant cost savings. According to Olivier de Weck, a professor of aeronautics and astronautics and of engineering systems at the Massachussets Institute of Technology (MIT) “The idea of taking a detour into the lunar system … it’s very unintuitive.But from an optimal network and big-picture view, this could be very affordable in the long term, because you don’t have to ship everything from Earth.” 

There are a host of other reasons why a lunar base could be beneficial. The moon would also give us a chance to live in a hostile space environment with less risk because of the proximity of the moon and the Earth. New technologies could be made on the moon to make space life easier, which could then possibly be used on earth. For example memory foam, phone cameras, modern version of smoke detectors, freeze drying technology, artificial limbs, and a lot more. A moon base could also get people excited about space again, which could further expand the funding of institutions like NASA. 

Going to the moon would cost a lot of money, but it is a much, much cheaper option than going to Mars. If an institution like NASA were to buy spacecraft, the estimation of the cost to build a base could be as low as 50 billion dollars initially. This would include things like the moon base itself, solar panels, rovers, astronauts, extra spacesuits, food, and water. If we were to live on the moon, we would obviously need to recycle water and in the beginning we could probably transport food. Although this would become expensive so we would try to make our own food. Solar panels would probably be the main way of providing power on the moon. The base would have to be on the lunar pools because that’s where the days are the longest, so the solar panels could collect enough energy to survive the moon’s long nights, which, on the poles can be as long as 15 days. Another way to make energy is to extract lunar ice and turn it into water. Not only for drinking but also for growing plants and making hydrogen fuel cells and split to make rocket fuel. The base will have to be in a spot where it has shelter.

The moon could be the start of so many things for humanity. It may come with its challenges and obstacles, but no doubt, NASA scientists and other space explorers are not a type that shies away from hard work and determination. And a lunar base may turn out to be just what the space industry needs for more reasons than one..

Image: Dr.Jank

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