Talk:Site Selection

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I have $20.00 to put on Mount Malapert right this moment.

--Jriley 14:10, 4 April 2007 (PDT)

I'll put $20 on Oceanus Procellarum. The Procellarum KREEP Terrain has probably the best areas of concentrated ores from what I can see in current data. Come on LRO :D

-- Jarogers2001 04:03, 11 April 2007 (UTC)

Prize Money

You do realize Lunarpedia is a mere wiki run by members of Moon Society and has no assets of it's own, don't you?

Yes, 3 of the 4 domain names (, .net and .info) are registered to Moon Society, and will soon join them. For getting sponsors, Moon Society itself would be far better and perhaps more credible. MikeD 22:48, 04 April 2007 (BST)

A real contest would take a lot of work and money

An impressive contest would take the affiliations of several groups like The Moon Society, as well as several university groups. Serious groups will need corporate sponsors. NASA could do a educational outreach thing, but there is no money to be had there. Real prize money would have to come from a deep-pockets high-tech billionaire.

Such things can happen. We already have $20.00 promised.

--Jriley 10:37, 5 April 2007 (PDT)

Solar power and lava tube additions are out of place

Comment withdrawn by author

-- 13:51, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

Special Considerations

I set up a sections just for special site considerations like lava tubes.

--Jriley 12:41, 11 April 2007 (UTC)

And, the Great Instant Science Head Butting

"A great contest is shaping up over the selection for the first, and quite likely only site for a long time, for a human settlement on the Moon. Later there will surely be many lunar settlements, but for right now we need to focus on where to place the very first settlement using the information and technologies that will be available to us in the 2020 time frame."

I'm not sure who wrote this paragraph, but is it not possible that planning based on technology that wont be available for another 13 years is erroneous?

Wouldn't we do better to tackle the problems with technology already available to us today?

We need to stop thinking like earthbound government agencies and start thinking like spacefarers.

-- Mdelaney 10:42, 12 April 2007 (UTC)

Private tech firms anticipate future developments all the time. Video game and computer designers work within the framework of moore's law. It may be prudent for us to think in terms of future technology for planning, but it is also up to us to develop the technologies that will make these plans possible. (ie: technically feasible approaches such as the Bigelow Aerospace proposal to land pre-assembled modular inflatable habitats on the lunar surface.) Perhaps a modular, upgradeable approach based on proven tech but keeping a 2020 time frame in mind is best. New and cheaper technologies can always be incorporated as the 2020 time frame approaches. We must keep these future technologies in mind when making our plans, as we don't want more non-upgradeable systems like the space shuttle which would be based solely on "current" technology and quickly outdated. -- Jarogers2001 05:01, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

Oh I don't mean to ignore future tech, and we know it's going to take time to do things so should allow for the incorporation of new technology in our plans, but our basic plans should all be completely doable with current tech. Most new technology simply finds better ways of doing things. But don't rely on developments that may or may not exist in 15 years time. It's fine to plan for faster computers, better materials etc. Just don't base the entire plan on technology that hasn't been developed yet. We know what's reasonably in the pipeline, stick with that. In other words, don't make the plan dependent on something like cold fusion or nanotechnology.
My whole point is that we've had the technology to setup a permanent base on the moon for the best part of 40 years. We've just lacked the commitment. My proof? There have been people in orbit almost continually for close to 30 years.
Grr, Oops, one needs to login for ~~~~ to work properly. -- Mdelaney 08:36, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

Article Organization

There really were reasons for my reorganization (I suppose I could join in a revert war but I'd really like to discuss this first). We do NOT have a consensus, yet the structure of the article has been structurally favoring one viewpoint above any others -- it is structured with the assumption of a polar site and lists points for consideration seemingly cherry-picked for luring the reader into a polar conclusion (Now pay attention to your choice for me, do you vote for Tweedledum or Tweedledee?).

I broke things down according to how I believe the question should be phrased.

The first question is what does one want out of a site, whether you're planning a multibillion dollar landing with a major government space agency or a $6M wonder[1] paid for by someone who couldn't get a Soyuz joyride -- or something else that's in between? First choose a category of site, and here are some options for that, then here are some options for your next question: where is the best place in that category, especially prospective sites that have had some thought or research put into them already.

I do NOT approve of marginalizing sites by type. If a type is less than ideal, it should be debated, not structurally isolated.

Also, what is with the two categories at the top? Is that supposed to be one topic, or is ==First Lunar Settlement Site Selection== meant to be a separate topic from ==And, the Great Instant Science Head Butting== and is just in need of content? ...And why are those the only topics you want at that level?

If this topic is about NASA's site selection specifically, then this article does not have an appropriate topic and should be moved to a less confusing name (and a different, more general, article on site selection will need to be created).

--Strangelv 22:38, 12 April 2007 (UTC)

I do not support disregarding the lava tube option as there are still stable lava tubes on earth. Whether or not lunar lavatubes are structurally stable depends entirely upon local geological conditions, which we currently know nothing about, and therefore we have little to no evidence to discredit the lavatube proposal. It may be assumed that due to dormant tectonic conditions and lack of atmosphere/water erosion there may be more lavatubes which are still stable on the moon than on earth. On the other hand, we also have little geologic evidence to support the lavatube proposal. It may be assumed that meteoritic impacts may have destabilized a majority of these lava tubes. At this point we simply DO NOT KNOW. Detailed studies using high resolution ground penetrating radar may be required to shed further light on this issue (should we advocate high res GPR studies?).
I cannot support the de-emphasizing of a proposal in order to advocate an opposing viewpoint when there is so little evidence either way. IMHO we should view the issue scientifically and let the evidence for/against each option speak for itself, providing pros and cons for each proposal (ie: what strings are attached?), and leave interpretation of that evidence up to the readers. (ex: An author could just as easily write an article linking global warming to the statistical decline of pirates as one could advocate one position or the other in this debate, should one choose to interpret the evidence for the reader instead of letting them do it themselves.) -- Jarogers2001 04:31, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

Given some of the somewhat sizable stable lava tubes on Earth, it's fairly reasonable to speculate that some exist on the moon, and given 1/6 gravity they could very well be larger and or more stable. But it's just pure speculation, nothing more, nothing less. Such lava tubes would be very useful. Again, given 1/6 gravity it should be fairly easy to reinforce lava tubes before or while installing a pressure containment skin. If we can build 1800 ft buildings in 1 gravity, we should be able to shore up lava tubes in 1/6 gravity.

As I've said repeatedly, we need to think beyond what NASA envisions for it's initial 2 week missions. They really do plan Apollo on steroids. I've seen nothing different from them at all yet, just more navy pilots stomping around the moon pretending to be scientists.

Re-structuring a document to favor a single biased viewpoint is a no-no, it's something politicians do and is frowned upon by almost everyone. -- Mdelaney 08:52, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

Problem I had with early edits

I think this exchange has improved the article.

My problem with the early edits was that they reorganized the structure of the article. My intention is primarily to set up the idea of the contest so that I can sell the ideas to potential sponsors. The reorganization made the article useless for that particular purpose. I have now added a lot more explanation that should communicate my ideas better.

The article has a two line title. The use of double equals for the title instead of the highest section is suggested in one of the editing lessons. If you know a better way to create a two line title, I would be most happy to see it used. The actual sections start with three and then four equals, which is a limitation. Also, the reference name of the article (Site Selection) is recommended to be a short phrase that is easy for people to guess and look up and should not be a long title.

The Activity zones are a specific design concept used for space settlement design that I am suggesting for use as a judgment criteria for the various sites. All sites will have strengths and weaknesses over the various zones. I have added equatorial and polar site strengths and weaknesses where I know them.

The special properties section appears to be a major improvement to the article.

One persistent problem is the technology time line. If we do not limit ourselves to technologies that will be available by 2020, we will find that the start of the first settlement project will be delayed until the critical technology (for example small nuclear power station) is both demonstrated and paid for. The paid for part seems to be the project killer right now. I would certainly support a wide variety of advanced technologies for the second, third, and fourth lunar settlements.

I would certainly be willing to delay judgment on Lava tubes until one is show to exist on the Moon.

--Jriley 14:21, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

I was actually suggesting limiting ourselves to technologies already available and merely allowing for the technology of 2020, whoever added the line about 2020 seemed to imply the opposite, ie. to only plan on 2020 tech, which as you just pointed out would probably mean nothing happening before 2025, by which time they'd want to plan for 2040 tech and so on and so forth.
Personally I'm sick and tired of all the planning going to waste, it's been possible to build a base on the moon for nearly 40 years. Let's just get on with it.

Nuclear Reactors

On the subject of a small nuclear power station, those have been successfully demonstrated since the 50s, they're in lot's of submarines and aircraft carriers. The French have some fairly small civilian ones. We'll probably have to contract that out to a vendor like say "British Nuclear Fuels" (BNFL), "British Energy" or their US or French counterparts who's names escape me. Though personally I'd prefer one from one of the US Navy, Royal Navy or French Navy. Again, we'd probably have to pay them to install and run it. Just don't buy a used one from a Soviet sub. -- Mdelaney 15:27, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
Some questions that may need to be answered: What's the weight on one of those, fueled and un-fueled? Will it be within capacity for the CaLV? What benefits/savings can it provide that will offset the political backlash from the "no nukes in space" crowd? What are the launch hazards for fuel rods and can they be mitigated? How will the reactor be cooled in a vacuum and how will this effect a retrofit for lunar purposes? Can a test/pilot reactor be retrofitted and ready for launch by 2020? -- Jarogers2001 17:09, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
Small nuclear power reactors are readily available. the Soviets and Russians have been flying them for decades. The "Topaz" family of reactors is now in their second generation (Topaz-2). They are used for powering radar transmitters on some of their spy satellites.Charles F. Radley 02:16, 14 April 2007 (UTC) Charles F. Radley 02:19, 14 April 2007 (UTC)

A private company purchasing, launching, and landing the reactor on russian vehicles or other private vehicles might get around the public backlash that NASA would face. I suppose it's a bit like laundering money if NASA contracts it through another company in this way. For a commercial colony its just business. -- Jarogers2001 08:24, 14 April 2007 (UTC)
It really makes no difference if it is the US Govt or a private company buying the reactors. Actually, the US Govt (Dept of Defense) has already purchased one Topaz reactor back in 1993, for evaluation purposes. The problem is launching them from Earth into space, the anti-nuclear lobby protests every launch of nuclear materials from US territory. Launching nuclear material from Russia or Kazhakstan should be much easier, there are no local protestors there. Even launching them from Kourou or just about anywhere outside the US should be easier. The main legal issue will be licensing under the UN Anti-proliferation treaty, should be doable.Charles F. Radley 16:48, 14 April 2007 (UTC)

You can buy these reactors from State Research Center of Russian Federation Institute of Physics and Power Engineering 1, Bondarenko sq., Kaluga region, Russia 249020. Fax: (095) 230 2326, (095) 883 3112 Telex: 911509 URAN SU Phone: (08439) 98250, 98231, 98819, 98043, (095) 913 3154 E-mail:

Here is more detailed description of the products:

Charles F. Radley 02:24, 14 April 2007 (UTC)

I'd forgotten the Soviet/Russian space program used those. What's their reliability rating like?
10kW might be enough to overnight a small outpost for about 5-10 people.
-- Mdelaney 06:31, 14 April 2007 (UTC)

Mike, here is a link to some tehcnical specifications. I am not sure if this info is public domain or not, so I am only posting the link, rather than the contents of the article. Charles F. Radley 16:52, 14 April 2007 (UTC)

Do the Moon under present limitations, or not do it at all.

We now have an extremely limited opening for a back to the Moon effort. It is only holding on by its fingernails. This window of opportunity will close soon.

Space exploration has always been a political football, it is now politicalized beyond the belief of mortal man. The Democrats see back to the Moon as a failed Republican issue and will go over to Earth science (read Global Warming) as soon as they get back in office. If we are not successful in building public interest in returning to the Moon the whole project will die.

To address huge budget deficits, NASA funding and manpower is being cut unrelentingly. NASA does not even have a proper budget this year. They have just lost the office for lunar surface robotic missions. LRO is about the only American Moon mission we can count on.

The bottom line is, if you want to see human beings back on the Moon in your lifetime, you had better figure out a way to do it cheap and do it soon.

This article is only about the very first lunar outpost which we will talk bravely of as the first lunar settlement. We will worry about what comes after that when we are actually back on the Moon.

--Jriley 12:05, 14 April 2007 (UTC)

Well that is one approach. i.e. "Do it cheap". Another approach would be to sell a big revenue stream, e.g. solar power satellites.

Yet I even question whether the "do it cheap" approach is viable. The questions is "how cheap"? or what do you mean by "cheap"? If the revenue stream is zero, then one dollar of cost is expensive. By my definition, "cheap" means "small compared to the revenue stream", or profitable. So the first question to ask is: What is the source of our FIRST revenue stream, how much will it be, and when can it be delivered? Until that question is answered, the concept of "do it on the cheap" really means nothing. For example, I was involved with the Transorbital company commercial Trailblazer moon probe, so I have some experience with that conundrum. The revenues did not meet the costs, and the company defaulted on at least one major invoice (ref 2005 Federal lawsuit: ISC Kosmotras versus Transorbital Inc, Eastern Virginia Federal District Court). There are at least three other companies who have tried commercial lunar projects and failed, e.g. Lunacorp, Blastoff! and Applied Space resources. There is not yet a single example of a successful commercial lunar business. I am perfectly willing to have another shot at it, but first I need to know what is the revenue stream. I am waiting for your call.... Charles F. Radley 19:11, 14 April 2007 (UTC)

I doubt that the NASA mission will provide any revenue stream at all. It may be necessary to write off the NASA expenditure as infrastructure. NASA has begun mentioning commercial partnerships, and it may be these partnerships, tourism, research, and otherwise, as well as international endeavors cooperating yet remaining independent of the NASA plans that will provide a revenue stream. Once a lunar presence is established and sustainable the commercial and SPS options (derived from lunar materials) may become more appealing. The Pentagon is showing interest in the tactical implications of SPS providing power to troops in remote or politically unstable areas now that the VSE is in motion. Think Tactical to Practical and you may find the military industrial complex becomes an ally instead of an adversary in NewSpace and Lunar ventures. Thats a good deal of PR and lobbyist money on your side if you don't mind the company.
An initial test may be found in the research currently being done at the Center for Advanced Materials at the University of Houston, under Alex Ignatiev. The idea is to use a robot to sinter regolith and produce thin film solar cells from regolith, then use the sintered regolith as a substrate. The vacuum of space is ideal for producing these cells en mass, and once power has been established, Alex explains, "you can think about taking that extra energy and beaming it to Earth or elsewhere in space." This robot is in the arly design phase and would manufacture and lay the cells using the same unit. A slightly more detailed article can be found in Chemical & Engineering News V.85 No.6 Feb.5 2007 Pages 23-25.
-- Jarogers2001 03:03, 15 April 2007 (UTC)

Which technologies to use

Guessing what technologies we count on using to get back to the Moon is a real crap shoot.

The Russians built a key component of the ISS. They were late and delayed the entire launch schedule. The American Congress is very unlikely to accept any Russian component in a critical mission timeline for a long time.

To go to the Moon you must have a Saturn 5 class heavy lift vehicle. For the Chinese this will probably be called the Long March 6. They have not even announced that they are designing this rocket. The minute the Chinese announce they plan to build the Long March 6, we will know they are on the way to the Moon. Until we hear that announcement, they are not going.

We get major protests for the launch of a RTG power supply which have a excellent record and only contain a small amount of radioactive material. A larger reactor would be astronomically expensive to launch under present safety constrains.

On the other hand, electric cars need better batteries and the market will be worth billions in sales. There are at least 4 technologies for breakthrough improvements in batteries now in the laboratory. Enormous amounts of money are being spent of developing commercial production of these devices. Most are based on nano-technology. Counting on a times 4 to times 10 improvement in rechargeable batteries looks reasonable to me.

--Jriley 12:29, 14 April 2007 (UTC)

Let them protest when a reactor is purchased by a private company, launched, and landed with private/foreign equipment. The up side of a private contract verses a treaty is that if a product isn't delivered on time, the contact may be canceled and the manufacturer may be sued, depending on contract stipulations. This is a matter separate from the NASA reactor issue as I doubt a NASA reactor idea will ever take off due to the political implications.

I also find many of the recent scientific developments in power storage to be very encouraging, and it may be prudent to anticipate significant improvements in commercial battery technology over the next decade. Off the shelf equipment is a cheaper option if it can handle the space environment. -- Jarogers2001 02:24, 15 April 2007 (UTC)

At 02:24, 15 April 2007 (UTC) Jarogers2001 said:
I also find many of the recent scientific developments in power storage to be very encouraging, and it may be prudent to anticipate significant improvements in commercial battery technology over the next decade.
Can you provide examples?
I've never found information on a battery that can hold a sunstantial charge with low loss for a period of 2 weeks, other than perhaps the good ol' Lead Acid battery, which is probably out of the running for our purposes.
Most recent longlife rechargeables possess the disadvantage of having fairly low capacities.
-- Mdelaney 13:40, 15 April 2007 (UTC)
Eneco has developed a method on a chip to convert heat directly to electricity. Info here. Heat producing devices could be equipped with this tech, allowing energy lost via heat to be scavenged back into the system when loss cannot be afforded (second week of lunar night).
Uniross has come out with a new rechargeable battery here. Small scale. Scalability needs to be verified.
flow batteries/fuel cells
Plurion zinc/cerium redox batteries
ZBB zinc/bromine batteries
PinnacleVRB vanadium redox batteries
more to come Jarogers2001 20:23, 20 April 2007 (UTC)