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Thu, Mar 24, 2016

Scientists Say Moon Colony Is Possible, And Maybe Affordable

Permanent Human Presence Could Be Established In Six Years For $10 Billion, According To Published Studies

NASA could establish a permanent colony on the Moon by 2020 for a cost of about $10 billion, according to a series of studies published in the journal New Space.

The website sciencealert.com reports that according to the articles which were the result of a workshop held in the summer of 2014, new technology could make it possible to establish a Moon colony in five to seven years for less than the cost of one new aircraft carrier.

The papers envision a colony of 10 people who would be on the moon for up to a year at first, but within about 10 years it could grow to a self-sufficient settlement of about 100 people. The first components of the colony would start their journey aboard SpaceX Falcon Heavy rockets, but eventually the colonists would use additive manufacturing to create many of the things they'd need on the lunar surface. The colony would likely be established on the rim of a crater near one of the Moon's poles so that it would get sufficient sunlight to keep electricity generated by solar panels flowing. Colonists would likely live in structures similar to the Bigelow inflatable habitats currently under evaluation.

The colony would be resupplied using SpaceX reusable Falcon 9 boosters, which would significantly cut the cost of sustaining the effort.

Chris McKay, the NASA astrobiologist who edited the special open-access issue of New Space, told Popular Science that he is not really interested in the Moon, but that a research base on Mars will not be possible "unless we can learn to do it on the Moon first. The Moon provides a blueprint to Mars."

(Images from file)

FMI: New Space, Science Alert

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