There are a few more rules but I don’t really have enough to say to warrant their own sections.
Homestead equipment is 100% user serviceable
Most high-tech space equipment is the proverbial “black box”. You’ve got to have an advanced degree to understand how it works and forget about repairing it without access to the global industrial base. This may work for NASA missions but it’s unacceptable for Homesteaders. People living on the Lunar Frontier need to be able to take apart and fix all of their equipment using the local resources.
Honestly, it’s not just space equipment that is built this way. Most consumer products seem to be designed so users can’t repair them. This is by design. Something breaks? Throw it away and buy a newer model. Even if you wanted to try to fix it, you’d have to break through the glues and adhesives now commonly used to seal products and keep people from repairing them. How are you going to put it back together again? This is bad for consumers and it’s bad for the environment. We can do better with Lunar Homesteads.
Lunar Homestead must design as much equipment as possible to easily disassemble into its component parts. This isn’t just for repairing the equipment. It’s also a lot easier to conduct preventative maintenance and cleaning when you can easily access all the parts. A little regular maintenance can significantly extend the life of electronics and machines.
This is where the previous rules start to synergize. Low-tech, small scale, and simple designs are easier take apart than cutting-edge stuff. It also compliments the “maximize ISRU” rule. If a component can’t be fixed, remove it from the equipment and use it as feedstock for another process. Nothing is wasted or thrown away. And it’s a lot easier to disassemble equipment in a shirt-sleeve environment than in a vacuum while wearing a space suit.
All of this effort will result in significant advantages for Homesteads.
- Cost savings – They won’t have to stockpile spare units sent from Earth. Spare components can be fabricated on-site. Only the components that can’t be made locally has to be imported from Earth. That’s a lot less mass they have to pay to ship.
- Safety improvement – Obviously quick and efficient repairs are safer than trying to MacGyver a fix for a piece of equipment that wasn’t meant to be repaired on site.
- Saving time – Good design will make routine maintenance and cleaning much less time consuming and frustrating.
Finally, we’ll need to write detailed maintenance and repair manuals so anyone of reasonable intelligence can troubleshoot and fix any piece of Homesteading gear. This is no small task and we will definitely need the help of skilled technical writers. Fortunately, this can wait until the gear is actually built.
Homesteads are standardized, modular, and expandable
This is subtle but important. We’re all used to having lots of consumer choices. Food, phones, computers, cars, etc. So many choices that it’s often overwhelming. Homesteaders aren’t going to have that luxury. We create a solid design that works well then that’s it. Move on to the next project.
- Easier to maintain – Homesteaders only have to learn 1 design.
- Easier to stockpile parts – Only have to worry about a single design. Even better if components can be shared between lots of different pieces of equipment.
- Faster to build new ones – Production equipment can be tooled to turn out only the components needed for that single design.
- Safer – A single design can be tested more thoroughly. We’ll also figure out all its flaws faster.
Standardization may be bland but it’s a necessity for Homesteads.
Making equipment modular directly effects the efficiency of repairs and maintenance. It’s much easier to pull a faulty module from a unit and slap in a new one than to open it up and start digging around. The faulty module can then be repaired in a comfortable workshop with a Lunar coffee on hand.
Finally, designing equipment so it’s expandable means that we can increase capacity without having to build bigger equipment. Remember the small-scale rule? We’ll need to design systems so that we can use multiple small-scale units of the same design to achieve the desired outcome instead of designing larger and larger equipment.
Homesteads are designed for multiple redundancy
The old saying “Two is One and One is None” applies doubly to Lunar Homesteads. Basically, it means that you should always prepare a backup plan. Murphy’s Law (“Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong”) is in full force on Luna. We need to build that into every plan, design, system, and component.
For example, smaller multiple solar collection units are better than a single large unit. Homesteads can limp along on reduced power if one unit out of many goes down. Homesteads are on stored energy if a single large unit breaks. That’s the difference an annoyance and a life-threatening emergency.
By building Plan B (and C and D) into the design at the start we’ve also built in a significant safety buffer. And no small amount of mental comfort for our Homesteaders.