Science » Technologies and discoveries
Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov

Manned lunar bases may launch new era in space tourism

Moon bases are prospective projects to study and develop the Moon and to create the technical, scientific and social infrastructure on Earth’s natural satellite. There are several reasons for the Moon-reclamation. The absence of atmosphere, little gravity, direct cosmic impact and a possibility to get a wide temperature range without great energy costs are among them. The Moon is a unique natural laboratory facility. The absence of atmosphere would make it possible to conduct precise astronomical research works which is impossible under Earth conditions. Comparatively low free-fall acceleration on the Moon makes it possible to use the Moon as a Solar system Universe research location.

The primary goal of Russian and American lunar base projects is to conduct scientific research works to obtain natural and power recourses of the Moon. Japanese cosmic futurologists consider lunar tourism to be the best way to provide profitability. Some measures are to be taken to carry out scientific or other programs connected with continuous presence of people on the Moon; proper living conditions should be provided too. Scientists should explore the lunar power and raw materials recourses to use them while building bases under unusual conditions: habitual building materials deficiency (wood, concrete, glass and metal), and the lack of atmosphere. The latter implies serious pressurization requirements. All outside building works are supposed to be done in special space suits. Moon orbital motion also complicates the situation: our habitual 24 hours last there nearly a month.

The solar power is the most reliable and effective source of energy that can be found on the Moon. Earth’s (and, consequently, lunar) radiant flux energy is 1,440 W/sq.m. The construction mass that can provide one kilowatt is ten kilograms. State-of-the-art prospective researches can provide more effective elements with less specific weight in the near future.

The energy of temperature difference on the lunar surface and the solar energy conversion with the help of gas-turbine generators seem to be quite effective. In addition, on condition that the Moon obtains some necessary raw materials, the use of other energy sources (atomic, for instance) becomes possible.

Autonomous life support system seems to be the most interesting goal from the engineering point of view. All information about Mir and Alpha space stations is very useful in this case. Provisioning is another problem. It would be too expensive to ship food and water to the Moon from Earth. Scientists see a way out in hothouses. They can perform two functions simultaneously: provide food and transform carbon dioxide into oxygen.

Moonrock contains all necessary substances, including oxygen and different metals. It is possible to find water there, some scientists consider. Even suppositions about oil fields on the Moon are voiced.

Translated by Ksenia Sedyakina