Those of us who are old enough remember being glued to the TV watching the Apollo astronauts take humankind's first fleeting steps on another world. The Apollo 11 lunar landing and moonwalk united most of the planet in ways that have yet to be reproduced in any meaningful way. Even though subsequent landings never garnered the attention that the first one did, it was still a grand and historic "way to go!" for the entire human species.
Then we stopped.
Sigh. And I was so looking forward to growing up and taking a few steps myself, since I was planning to be one of the many thousands of lunar colonists that was supposed to be on the moon by now. Oh, well.
So instead, we are on the moon because we have built a lunar colony, mining lunar ice for rocket fuel. Well, at least in our imaginations we are, anyway.
Our colony will refuel lunar landers so that they can get to lunar orbit to retrieve payload. We will be using these same vehicles to visit other sites of geologic interest on the Moon. Instead of attaching a Crew Module (CM), however, we will be attaching the Expeditionary Crew Module (ECM).
The ECM is really half of a CM with the Environmental Controls located under the floor.
Accessible from the outside, space is also provided under the floor for payload such as sensors, experiments, etc.
The ECM operates in a pure Oxygen environment, so that suiting up in the Z-2 Space Suit and going outside can be done relatively quickly.
Once the astronauts are in the suit, cables lower them to the lunar surface. The astronauts then unhook and are able to walk around freely. To get back inside, the process is reversed: the astronauts hook in and the cables lift them up to the ECM. They reconnect the backpack to the airlock and crawl out of he suit after air pressure has been equalized.
The ECM attached to either a fully fueled Lunar Lander or a Lunar Rover will allow the systematic exploration of the moon.
The most interesting sites of them all are the landing sites of Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17. These will be one of our first expeditions to the lunar surface from the lunar colony near the South Pole.
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For the purposes of this essay, we will use the Apollo 12 mission as our example. The other 5 missions to the other lunar landing sites will be similar.
A view of the landing site from lunar orbit shows the still fresh footprints left behind by the lunar explorers. We must at all cost avoid erasing these marks from history, so we will land at a distance sufficient to leave the area undisturbed by our rocket exhaust.
Our mission begins with an OTV Lunar Lander fully fueled, with an ECM attached. Heading to the Ocean of Storms is by now something fairly routine. The ECM is loaded with equipment that the astronauts will leave at the Apollo 12 site, such as sensors, experiments, and most importantly, a visual "do not cross" barrier, similar to what the Police use.
We will try to cordon off as much of the area as possible. Thus will the first steps be taken to preserve the area as a future human monument and museum.
We lift off from the lunar base and head not into lunar orbit, but rather on a parabolic flight that will take us to Apollo 12. We arrive and touch down not far from the spent lunar Descent Stage.
Since our spacecraft is relatively high off the ground, we can see most of the site, and we are swept along with joy at seeing the Descent Stage with our own (watering) eyes.
We anxiously climb into our suits, and are lowered down to the lunar surface. We can feel the place just oozing with historical significance; so much so you catch yourself whispering.
The sensors and other devices are unload from the Lander and put into place. The barrier that will surround the landing site can now begin. Small stakes are hammered into the ground, and a solar powered flashing light signals the warning to any all who come here: "no further!" Future museum architects will now have a good idea where to build.
Turning a Profit
Of course, as much fun as (re)exploring the Apollo 12 landing site was, we are in the New Space business, and so we must address ways of making a profit.
The most obvious way is to collect lunar rocks from the area of the historic landing site. We will then return the lunar material back to the lunar base, and subsequently, back to Earth for sale. It won't be much, compared to what we've been able to collect before, but any bit helps.
Other Historic Landing Sites
Of course, there are two other landing sites that we have so far neglected: 1) the first landing back to the Moon our company made after Apollo 17, and 2) the first landing on the far side of the moon, also accomplished by our company.
Since the two locations are relatively nearby the lunar colony, we will use the Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) with a ECM attached. The same lunar lander mission of cordoning off an historic area applies to this ground expedition as well. Tourists will eventually get to visit these spots, as they will become the first two real museums on the Moon.
We have now preserved the historic Apollo landing sites for future generations to enjoy. Future museums will allow visitors to experience the thrill and awe of humankind's first steps on another world.
These museums will surely fire the imaginations of some of the youth taking the Apollo Tour; we wish these future explorers godspeed. However, is there something we can do now?
Our next DKos diary series will focus on our efforts at giving back to our community. To quote the introduction to the next diary:
During the course of cobbling together the many facets of the NMSTARG plan, and wanting to find a way to give back to our community, we stumbled upon the idea that these concepts would make terrific Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (S.T.E.M.) projects for High School students taking an upper level math class, such as Enriched Algebra 2 or Pre-Calculus.Indeed.
Of course, that's a story for another day.
A version of this diary was cross-posted at NMSTARG.
The DKos NMSTARG diary series:
- History, Part I
- History, Part II
- Space Port
- Space Plane
- Space Stations
- Space Ships
- Recharge and Resupply
- Lunar Ships
- Lunar Base
- Lunar Propellant
- Clean Up
- Space Health
- Advanced Systems
High School Classroom S.T.E.M. Projects for Pre-Calculus
- Overview for Teachers
- Project 1: Delta V and Transfer Time: Square Roots
- Project 2: Spacecraft Weight: Linear Functions
- Project 3: Propellant Weight: Natural Logarithms
- Project 4: Mission to the Moon: Financials
- Youtube Documentary: "The Making of a S.T.E.M. Project Using S.T.E.M."
High School Classroom S.T.E.M. Projects for Algebra 2
- Overview for Teachers
- Project 1: Virgin Galactic: Quadratics
- Project 2: Reaction Engine, Ltd. Linear Functions
- Project 3: Bigelow/Space X: Area and Volume
- Project 4: Spaceport America: Trigonometry
High School Classroom S.T.E.M. Projects for Google Technology
- Overview for Teachers
- Project: Crowdfunding Google Chromebooks: Cloud Computing
FULL DISCLOSURE: I work for the New Mexico Space Technology Applications Research Group (NMSTARG), a commercial space flight venture, which in its current form exists as an unfinished technical paper. NMSTARG is not affiliated with any of the businesses that were discussed in these posting. These diaries exists as a way for the DKos community to get a first look at our research, and to ask said community for any technical and non-technical (just as important!) feedback. The paper provides information on how to make a profit in space, detailing the infrastructure that will be needed and all of the associated costs involved. As such, we hope that it eventually attracts the attention of investors, where the paper then becomes the technical portion of a space-related business plan.