Rough diagram of Luna South Pole development

Recent American and Japanese missions have begun to map and sample the south pole of the moon, since it is currently considered the best candidate for a permanent Lunar base. Here I present a sketch of the south pole, with steps in Lunar base development:

Luna south pole, development concept

On the diagram I describe five steps in base development. The first step is to settle on Malapert Mountain, since this mountain seems to be permanently in sunlight. It is the best place to set up transmitters and solar panels brought from Earth.

The second step is to develop a landing site some distance from Malapert peak. Since the moon as (almost) no atmosphere, landings will be powered, and will kick up dust. So an early test of crude refining will be to create pavers for a landing-area to minimize dust-blow. The next problem is to figure out a regular transport system that optimizes a) simplicity of construction, b) minimal energy consumption, and c) speed of movement. Perhaps a monorail would actually be a good idea for once?

The third step is to develop a major electric generation, storage, and distribution system. Solar power, thermoelectric, and charged-particle harvesting are all potential significant sources of electricity. Storage? Angular momentum in massive flywheels spinning on superconductor maglev bearings. The mass of the flywheels could be lunar rocks held in metal nets. Most of the basic activities of the base will require large amounts of continuous, on-demand electricity, so this system needs to be developed early.

The fourth step, in concurrence with steps 2 and 3, is to research the area intensively, before disrupting it through industrial development. I think a lot of research scientists would cringe at the prospect of disrupting the South Pole with industrialization. But for long-term development of a human presence in space (and other major research projects), I think the pristine condition of Luna’s south pole needs to be sacrificed. We need the site for mining, refining, manufacturing, and launching products into Earth-Lunar space. I would much prefer to have toxic industrial processes carried out on Luna than on Earth. I would prefer that we obtain rare-earth metals from a Lunar strip-mine than poison aquifers in poorer regions of the Earth (such as New Guinea). I hope that we can agree on areas and rules of Lunar exploitation through the United Nations.

Speaking of treaties, the fifth step will need to be carefully monitored. A high-capacity mass-driver on the moon could be used as a major weapon. So terrestrial governments will have a persistent interest in restraining it from ever being used thus. The peaceful, intended purpose of the mass-driver is to use electricity to launch products off the moon: water separated into hydrogen and oxygen, refined silica wafers and electronics components, etc. For delivery to Earth, products could be packed into a simple drop-glider with an ablative heat-shield made of silica.

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