Bases and Outposts
All of the current plans for short-term human habitation of Luna involve either a base or an outpost. The two words are used interchangeably but they probably shouldn’t be.
According to Merriam-Webster, a base is “a center or area of operations” and an outpost is “an outlying or frontier settlement”. The way I read it; a base is place to conduct specialized activities but not for the permanent settlement of families. An outpost is simply a settlement belonging to a particular political entity that happens to exist on the frontier. Since no one involved in the current paradigm is seriously planning permanently lived in settlements (with families), the term outpost really shouldn’t be used.
The U.S. Artemis mission is currently (March 2020) planning to land a two-person team on the surface once a year for a handful of days over several years. The plan supports the slow build-up of infrastructure during each mission but that can change at any moment. That sounds like a base to me.
Some ways bases and outposts differ from Homesteads and cities:
Bases have their uses. However, they’re pretty limited unless they are designed from the beginning to expand into full-blown settlements.
On the opposite side of the scale from bases are cities. I have yet to find a design for a real outpost (as small settlement of permanent residents designed for expansion) so I guess we’ll just jump over it and go to cities. That’s OK, as Lunar Homesteads are pretty similar to outposts anyway.
There are all kinds of cool drawings, and some designs, of Lunar cities. There are design contests for Martian cities and large orbital settlements. It’s all very inspirational and maybe they motivate some kids to get into the science and engineering fields. However, none of it really moves us closer to actual space settlements.
Some of the problems with designing Lunar cities right now:
Lunar cities are great for science fiction. It’s great to think that we figure all this stuff out and build cities throughout the Solar system. But let’s not forget the most important part. We still have to figure out how to do it. That’s the really fun bit and you can help!
Survival settlements (also called survival colonies, but that’s not very Politically Correct at the moment) are similar to Lunar Homesteads. Their primary goal is to become as self-reliant as possible, as quickly as possible, in case their lifeline from Earth is disrupted or severed. They are no-frills settlements where comfort isn’t a priority. No different from a new Homestead.
Homesteads are what the rest of this book, and all the other books in this series, is about. Small groups, most likely composed of extended and/or multiple families, carving out societies on the Lunar Frontier.
I’m working on Homesteading solutions, not bases or outposts or cities, because governments and big business are already working on those. Humanity will be one step closer to being a space-faring species once we have the technology and techniques that will allow individuals and small groups to establish themselves on the Lunar surface. And most of this knowledge is transferable to the settlement of Mars, asteroids, and free orbiting settlements. It can even be used to help save our dying planet (if you don’t think we’re killing the Earth then you are either delusional or not paying attention). Once we are firmly established on Luna, we can go ANYWHERE.