NASA Lunar Colony Timeline - Reaching For the Moon by 2040 - Seeker's Thoughts

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NASA Lunar Colony Timeline - Reaching For the Moon by 2040

 America is returning to the moon - and this time for good. Through Artemis, NASA hopes to establish their first permanent lunar settlement by 2040.

Experts are discussing what will be necessary to reach their goal, with scientists joining NewsNation to share their expertise on this topic.

1. Getting There

NASA scientists have devised several plans for making it possible for humans to live on the Moon for extended periods. Their efforts center around designing novel lunar constructions and devising methods for residents of lunar colonies to access essential resources. Their construction will require groundbreaking engineering solutions capable of protecting against extreme temperatures, cosmic radiation exposure and micrometeorite impacts that plague this icy world.

Step one in reaching our goal of colonization on the Moon will be establishing a base there, which requires both manned and unmanned missions to build. Preferably, such a facility should be situated along the perimeter of a permanently shadowed region (PSR) on lunar surface as it contains water ice deposits which may be mined into propellant and other life-sustaining materials for future missions.

One of the key challenges will be ensuring an adequate supply of oxygen for long-term habitation in lunar greenhouses or by creating it using electrolytic cells, with purified air delivered directly into sealed habitation pods.

NASA and ICON, an Austin-based construction technology firm, have joined forces to meet their goal. NASA awarded ICON $60 Million as part of an effort to construct a habitable house on the Moon that can be utilized by astronauts and regular civilians alike.

2. Exploration

Spacecraft and rockets required to get astronauts to the Moon require immense amounts of energy; further away from Earth's gravitational pull would consume even more. Therefore, scientists and engineers need to design structures using less material that can be transported efficiently by rocket systems that also transport astronauts home again.

Researchers must first know where they should locate on the lunar surface to achieve this. "We must locate sites where structures can be built that provide protection from sun radiation and environmental elements," according to Free, who has researched how solar radiation could impede development of lunar colonies.

One potential site near the Moon's southern pole, Shackleton Crater could serve as an ideal landing spot. When rotating, that area experiences long periods of darkness - an advantage because astronauts won't need to travel as far to find suitable habitat and can avoid radiation exposure along the way.

Scientists are exploring Peary Crater and Malapert Mountains on the lunar north pole. To conduct this exploration will require multiple launches, including LOK manned craft. Two 29-ton spacecraft will rendezvous and dock into one single craft called Lunar Lander or LK that can carry three people.

3. Living on the Moon

Lunar colonies are more than science projects; they represent humanity's global cooperation necessary for space exploration. Engineers from many nations around the globe, including Europe, China, India, Russia and the US come together for this effort; each contribute their expertise for a successful mission that allows humans to live on another world.

As the lunar outpost expands, its inhabitants must be protected from harmful radiation, temperature changes and micrometeorite strikes. Engineers are creating modular habitats to serve as workspaces, living quarters and scientific labs - featuring inflatable modules that offer some degree of protection from harsh environments - connected by pressurized walkways to form one large habitat.

Communication is another essential part of building a lunar base. Astronauts will use wireless technologies that have been "radiation hardened" with more resistant materials than those commonly found on Earth to transmit data. But transmission will prove challenging across such a vast terrain as that present on the moon - particularly across two-mile deep Shackleton Crater which has walls twice as deep as Grand Canyon.

Students can become engaged with this challenge by working in teams of three students to form engineering firms that will design sustainable lunar colonies that provide self-sufficiency. Once all plans have been presented to the class, each group can present its plan to it and discuss its thought process before voting on which plan works best.

4. Terraforming

Once humans settle on the moon, much needs to be done to make it their home. Scientists must design novel lunar constructions and come up with ways for inhabitants to access essential resources for survival; while also creating structures to provide protection from its harsh elements like extreme temperatures, cosmic radiation, and micrometeorite impacts.

NASA already has plans in motion for all these aspects and more, such as terraforming the moon. They awarded a construction technology firm $60 million to build houses on the lunar surface that can be utilized by astronauts and civilians alike; additionally they have announced plans to use similar homes when sending people to Mars in future expeditions.

The New York Times reports that NASA's goal of having Americans living on the moon by 2040 may seem ambitious to many scientists, yet seven NASA experts interviewed by The Times all believe it to be achievable if certain benchmarks are met. Terraforming would alter its albedo by adding jungles, seas and clouds onto its surface to increase reflectiveness - thus making the Moon brighter and more Earthlike for living purposes.

NASA is working towards terraforming the Moon as part of their Artemis program, with plans for four-person crews to land near Shackleton crater on its lunar south pole by 2024 and establish an economy and launch pad that can eventually transport humans to Mars.

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