Lunar Homesteading at a Glance

Version 1.00 August 17, 2018

 

I get it. Who has time to read pages of information? Never fear. This page will tell you everything you need to know about the Lunar Homestead concept.

 

Concept

The Lunar (and solar) frontier will be initially settled by Homesteaders (individuals, family units, and small groups) using low-tech locally manufactured equipment. These Homesteads will form the nucleus for larger towns and cities.

 

Why

Waiting for governments and corporations to settle Luna has been an exercise in massive frustration. A new approach is needed.

 

Main ideas
  • Governments are fundamentally incapable of settling Luna, Mars, or any place else in the solar system.
    • Governments and politicians lack the ability for long-term planning and financing.
      • Politicians are more concerned with the next election cycle than establishing and maintaining long-term funding priorities (or even short-term ones).
      • Hyper-partisanship prevents governments from carrying out even the most basic of tasks, let alone something as complex as Lunar settlement.
    • Politicians lack the willpower to go against their donors and political base.
      • Most of the population doesn’t see the point of spending government resources on space settlement.
      • Many believe that money spent on space would be used to solve other problems although there is no evidence that this happens.
      • It’s unfair and unrealistic to expect the majority of the voting population to fund programs they don’t see a value in. This happens all the time anyway but that’s only because major political donors back the programs they want.
      • Corporate donors are pursuing their own agenda that is usually not aligned with space settlement.
    • Individual government agencies (such as NASA) are crippled by inconsistent and incompetent political control.
      • See above.
    • Lunar Homesteading will not rely on governments, politicians, or governmental organizations to settle Luna. Governments FOLLOW successful Homesteaders to provide services and collect taxes.
  •  Corporations (and business in general) are fundamentally incapable of settling Luna, Mars, or any place else in the solar system.
    • The primary purpose of a corporation is to survive, grow, and make money for its owners and shareholders while minimizing risk.
    • It is unrealistic to expect any business to do anything else.
    • Providing launch and satellite services are proven industries and that is why we see many successful businesses in these areas.
    • Lunar settlement is all risk with no short-term reward. Even the long-term rewards are poorly defined.
      • Mining helium-3 is a non-starter. Commercial fusion is still undeveloped and the current helium-3 market doesn’t require Lunar input.
      • Space tourism is still unrealized because launch costs are still very high and there are no people or cultures to experience. Natural beauty and the experience of “being there” is great but most people travel to experience new places and things.
      • Solar Power Satellites (SPS) are an incredibly good idea. Unfortunately, access to cheap fossil fuels (oil, natural gas, and coal) makes SPS completely unviable. Additionally, we can’t even get the Earth’s most powerful governments to agree on the simplest climate change protocols. There just isn’t an economic reason to create Lunar settlements to support the construction of an SPS at this time.
      • Lunar produced fuel could be a very profitable industry once there are enough people on Luna to require a low cost transportation system. Nobody builds a transportation system and then waits for people to show up to use it. Transportation systems are created when there are already enough people in place to actually use the system.
    • Our current paradigm of waiting for industry to create the infrastructure and settlements is backwards. We need to create the settlements FIRST.
    • Lunar Homesteading will not rely on corporations to settle Luna. Business FOLLOWS successful Homesteaders to make a profit by providing goods and services.
  • Historically, it has been individuals, families, and small groups (Homesteaders) that have carved settlements out of the frontier.
    • Humans leaving Africa for Europe and Asia were homesteaders.
    • Europeans carving a living out of the American east coast wilderness were Homesteaders.
    • People from everywhere on the planet headed to the American west to create a better life. They were Homesteaders.
    • People create homes and communities first. Governments and corporations follow.
  • Safety and comfort are not guaranteed.
    • As a society, we have forgotten that frontiers are dangerous and uncomfortable places.
      • Radiation
      • Vacuum
      • Meteoroids
      • Low or micro-gravity
      • Lunar dust
      • Technology failure
      • Isolation
      • Lack of modern conveniences and consumer items
      • Scarce resources
    • Homesteaders will die. We need to accept this fact.
      • We can’t obsess about making everything as safe as possible to the point that we barely do anything at all.
      • We can’t stop pushing back the frontier whenever a Homesteader (or group of Homesteaders) dies. Sure, we need to figure out what happened but we can’t hit the pause button for years (which has happened).
    • The majority of the population will have no interest in becoming Homesteaders. Most won’t be able to understand why anyone would want to. And that’s good because they aren’t the type of people who would thrive on the frontier anyway. We only need that small, special sub-set of the population that has what it takes to be Homesteaders.
  • Cheap Access to Space (CAtS) is not necessary
    • Launch costs are already coming down.
    • Launch costs will become more reasonable when there is a reason for launch volume to substantially increase. That will happen when a critical mass of Homesteads is reached.
    • Remember, people first THEN transportation systems.
  • Homesteading is a one-way trip. At least initially.
    • Building in a return mechanism substantially increases the costs and decreases the payload.
    • Knowing there’s no turning back puts Homesteaders in a very different mindset than people knowing they are going home soon. Luna IS their home.
  • Homesteads are small scale.
    • The Homestead and its equipment should be sized so a small group of people can build and maintain them. It’s a Homestead, not an industrial complex.
    • Multiple, smaller equipment is preferable to a single large piece of equipment. Redundancy is life when resupply can take weeks (or longer).
  • Homestead technology is low-tech.
    • Mechanical > Electrical > Simple Electronics > Complex Electronics
    • The advantages of low-tech equipment are:
      • Simple to operate. Not every Homesteader is going to have an Engineering PhD.
      • Rugged. Long supply lines and a harsh environment means everything needs to be as durable as possible.
      • Constructed with 100% Lunar materials (if at all possible).
      • 100% user serviceable with all-Lunar parts built on site.

These are the basic components of Lunar Homesteading. So much for a short explanation! Please let me know if I got something wrong or missed something. Or even if you agree with me!

 

Advantages of Lunar Homestead
  • We don’t have to rely on governments or big business to settle the Lunar frontier.
  • Lunar Homestead technology can be adapted to work anywhere humans want to settle.
    • The Martian environment is more like the Lunar environment than Earth’s.
    • Free floating orbital Homesteads will use much of the same technology, especially life support.
    • Asteroid Homesteads will be much like Lunar Homesteads.
  • Much of the Lunar Homestead technology can be adapted for use on Earth.
    • Water and waste treatment and recycling systems.
    • Limited resource agricultural systems.
    • Energy generation and storage systems.
  • Lots of Homesteads spread out over Luna instead of a couple of bases/outposts/whatever.
    • More diversity.
      • Cultural – Each Homestead will be unique.
      • Biological – Each Homestead will have its own unique set of plant and animal life.
    • Built-in redundancy against catastrophic events. The loss of a single Homestead won’t set us back.
    • Expanding industrial and consumer base.
  • Lunar Homestead can get people excited about space again.
    • People stopped being excited about space settlement when they started being shut out. Talk of Lunar, Martian, and orbital settlements turned to Space Shuttles and Space Stations. Those are cool but not at all the same. Highly trained experts, connected politicians, and rich people go into space now. And nobody is settling the frontier. No wonder people aren’t interested anymore. There’s no personal connection.
    • Frontiers are critical to civilization. Civilizations without frontiers turn inward and stagnate. It’s happened throughout history. Some would claim it’s happening right now. Frontiers allow a civilization to channel its energy and drive into exploring new places and solving new problems. Frontiers ignite and feed curiosity and wonder. Frontiers inspire visions of an exciting and hopeful future. Doesn’t this sound like something humanity desperately needs?
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