Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Using Lunar Rock For Future Moon Bases

Staying up with comprehensive Colony Worlds is a challenge, much the same as keeping up with Fraser Cain in British Columbia, and all the others of the Carnival of Space; the 42 "Geeks," so far. Since that niche appears to be pragmatic discussion of the challenges of permanent habitation of the Solar System, I think we have a lot in common.

The Faraday-Kletke dynamo shield, and the more obvious and efficient advantages of simply living underground, on the Moon, in particular.

Selenology is my game, first and foremost. I'm willing to let my life pass by without a trip to Mars, and beyond. I'm unwilling to settle for a tumble in LEO, but when it comes to the a return and stay on the Moon, you don't have to "count me in." I've been a political warrior within government and without of the resumption of NASA's primary mission since 1972, and Apollo 17.

Soon, I will have to introduce the world to a true genius whose time has finally arrived.
Dr. Jerry Kletke, who I met while studying Advanced Drinking with a minor in Astronomy at the University of South Florida, was a student of Biochemistry. While I've since learned much more than I knew at the time about electrical fields, Maxwell's equations and Faraday, Dr. Kletke and I, along with the essential help of my friend since 1970 Larry F. Scott (with whom I bonded forever at the age of 13 when he saved me from Junior High School bullies) first followed up on my thought experiments regarding "personal" SSTO spacecraft.

That was in 1976.

Today, I am administrative assistant working for the leadership of North Carolina's General Assembly, Larry is an acknowledged expert with technical writing and the art of children and even grandchildren near Columbia, SC, while Dr. Kletke is apparently living somewhere in North Miami Beach, still in Florida and still selling convincing stories that can only be the product of bi-polar, "borderline" Schizophrenia. Of the three of us, I have the least grey hair.

While drawing up plans with Larry for a space ship we called "Trip," Jerry, my roommate at Fontana Hall, decided to lift his hoary head from his Advanced BioChem text books to chime in with the still-outrageous idea that we had no need of Newtonian propulsion. Now, someone who suffers from bi-polar disorder can sound very plausible. But as he explained what are now simple concepts such as "the Right-Hand Rule" when it comes to the movement of electrons through space, he stopped and suddenly began a facinating lecture of one of the side benefits of his theoretical "electric space ship." Shielding, not unlike that afforded Earth by the presense of a strong natural magnetic field (with it's perpendicular acceleration of electons).

The team went on to perform dubious experiments with Hydrogen-powered 1971 Oldmobile 98's, lucky never to have particularly dramatic explosions. Our first "hybrid" Hydrogen and gasoline powered car proved to be a bust, as was our aborted trip to become exhibitors at an Energy Fair in Fort Worth, Texas in the killing heatwave of July 1980. But much later, Dr. Kletke sat me down in my kitchen in Alexandria, Virginia during a odd visit to Washington the following Winter, and he explained his further study building upon the work of Faraday and Maxwell. I was still a student of Radio, having just come to grasp with how electo-magnetism can be used to propagate a self-perpetuating wavefront through empty space. And for the first time, working together, we understood how "it" could be made to work.

In the end, however, Dr. Kletke took what it known in the field as a "vacation" from his meds, and before my eyes and within days, Jerry was quite mad. Before that process came to its predictable conclusion, however, we determined the device we had on paper was, to say the least, beyond the material science of the day. This was before the discovery of high-temperature superconductivity, remember, and much else that would make our own application less than the size of a football field and seathed in the most efficient conductors known at the time, and, thus, too heavy and expensive by tonnes for an electric field to overcome the thing's inertia. Nevertheless, that's another story.

I'm going to have to talk this over with Dr. Kletke thirty years on, to see how materials research and cheap and very fast and light computers might have changed things. And yet, however these developments might have "changed things" thirty years on, the sheilding properties of high gauss fields still have some unknowns that have to be worked out to make them practical or essential components in the face of an approaching Coronal Mass Ejection.

Survival on the Moon will require water and oxygen, both of which can be refined from the rocks and soil, let alone by harvesting the dirty cometary slurry that may or may not exist in sufficient abundance in the permanent shadow of Lunar north and south pole craters. And as building material? The sheilding available might make the construction of bricks without straw for shelter a viable option. Occam's Razor still applies for me, personally, and I tend toward just barrowing underground, while finding a way to insure the resulting tunnels will hold pressurized atmosphere.

That said, for the moment, I defer to the experts in the conversation, put together today on Colony Worlds, the link to which can be found below:


With NASA preparing to send humans once more to the Moon, many people have been envisioning humans creating lunar space bases out of metals either mined from our Earthen cradle or from the asteroids far away.While building with such materials may add to the beauty of a lunar home, it would also add to the cost, raising the price tag of us settling lunar side. In order to help keep costs down (and the vision from being potentially killed) it may be better for humanity to choose lunar rocks and dirt instead.

While building with such materials may add to the beauty of a lunar home, it would also add to the cost, raising the price tag of us settling lunar side. In order to help keep costs down (and the vision from being potentially killed) it may be better for humanity to choose lunar rocks and dirt instead.

  • (Universe Today) As it turns out, lunar regolith has many useful properties for construction on the Moon. To complement lunar concrete (as introduced earlier in Part 2), basic building structures may be formed from cast regolith. Cast regolith would be very similar to terrestrial cast basalt. Created by melting regolith in a mold and allowing it to cool slowly would allow a crystalline structure to form, resulting in highly compressive and moderately tensile building components. The high vacuum on the Moon would greatly improve the manufacturing process of the material. We also have experience here on Earth in how to create cast basalt, so this isn't a new and untested method. Basic habitat shapes could be manufactured with little preparation of the raw materials. Elements like beams, columns, slabs, shells, arch segments, blocks and cylinders could be fabricated, each element having ten times the compressive and tensile strength of concrete.

Using lunar rock as a main building block for lunar bases may not only reduce the overall cost of us setting foot abroad, but also help protect ourselves from cosmic radiation (as it would be much easier and cheaper than powering artificial magnetic fields).While these thick lunar walls may be able to resist being penetrated by tiny incoming space rocks from above, it may be wise for NASA to consider "insulating" the walls with inflatable material as an extra precaution.

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