NASA has predicted a good possibility that humans could stay on the Moon for lengthy periods during this decade. According to a BBC report, Howard Hu – the head of NASA’s Orion lunar spacecraft programme – said that the Artemis missions “enable us to have a sustainable platform and transportation system that allows us to learn how to operate in that deep space environment”.
He has further been quoted on Sunday saying that “We’re going to be sending people down to the surface and they’re going to be living on that surface and doing science… It’s the first step we’re taking to long-term deep space exploration, for not just the United States but for the world… I mean, we are going back to the Moon, we’re working towards a sustainable programme and this is the vehicle that will carry the people that will land us back on the Moon again.”
Five days into the 25.5-day Artemis I mission, the uncrewed Orion continues on its trajectory toward the Moon. According to NASA, the Orion had travelled 3,74,467 kilometres from Earth and was 63,570 kilometres from the Moon as of Sunday. It has been cruising at nearly 600 kilometres per hour.
If life on Moon is indeed as close as NASA projects it to be, and if we would be living there for extended periods in the coming decade, it would be interesting and important to know what kind of structures humans will be living in. This lunar home would have a lot of expectations as it would have to be more than a place to just eat and sleep — a step beyond your regular bread-and-breakfast. This home will have to not just shelter its dwellers, but also provide power, amenities and comforts that we now cannot live without, along with a place to conduct research and experiments.
For starters, we would need to find the right spot to build the ideal house, for the Moon is an entirely new landscape. The plot choices range from the lunar poles, digging underground, or one of the loony craters. Take your pick.
Next, we would need to find the ideal material for the construction. Moondust is a viable option and humankind has also found a way to bind the dust to make bricks! European Space Agency (ESA) has made bricks out of lunar soil, or regolith, using just the energy of the sun. well, not really from moondust, but the researchers used volcanic material with a composition similar to that of lunar dust. They 3D-printed bricks and baked them in a solar furnace which is run by the German Aerospace Center’s (DLR) facility in Cologne, Germany.
And yes! This material has been found to be stable as its makers say that the strength of the bricks is equivalent to that of the mineral gypsum — a major component of plaster. So the future lunar colonists don’t have to take all their materials from terra firma, but source them directly from the celestial body. That’s another thumbs up for settling on the Moon as it would make travel as much more affordable in a smaller spacecraft.
However, the lunar occupants would need to pack and carry enough sunscreen as the radiation levels on the moon in just one year maxes out the amount of solar radiation we can handle over a lifetime! So make sure you pack loads of sun protection if you look at living on the moon!