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Moonbase Alpha - The Moonbase discussion

Grendal

SpaceX Moderator
Jan 31, 2012
5,870
7,266
Santa Fe, New Mexico

AudubonB

One can NOT induce accuracy with precision!
Mar 24, 2013
8,140
27,485
As good a location as any to ask the following question, in that its premise is part of the good Zubrin's location argument.

Q: Why is it that water ice ("accumulated..in permanently shadowed craters") doesn't effectively immediately sublimate in the non-existent lunar atmosphere?
 

croman

Active Member
Nov 21, 2016
4,724
6,712
Chicago, IL
As good a location as any to ask the following question, in that its premise is part of the good Zubrin's location argument.

Q: Why is it that water ice ("accumulated..in permanently shadowed craters") doesn't effectively immediately sublimate in the non-existent lunar atmosphere?

The moon does have an atmosphere. Its very thin and virtually useless for the purposes to which we typically ascribe for atmosphere on Earth but its is there.

Is There an Atmosphere on the Moon?

EDIT: This article more directly addresses your question:

Atmosphere of the Moon
 

croman

Active Member
Nov 21, 2016
4,724
6,712
Chicago, IL
Ok...The water doesn't sublimate because it is not exposed to sunlight and is adsorbed into rock. Per observation, it might be chemically bound to the rock/dust as part of a hydroxyl group.
 

rabar10

Model 3 >> Focus Electric
Dec 3, 2010
1,455
186
Indianapolis, IN
If there is actual ice on the moon, why hasn't it sublimated?

Temperatures in the craters are <100K, so the ice is in fact sublimating, but at an extremely slow rate, so as to be not appreciable.

Back to the Zubrin article — haven’t done the maths/research yet, but wondering how the total mass-to-surface is in his plan compares to a) the ISS in low-earth-orbit (long-term habitation, but in LEO and assembled via many more trips), and b) mass-to-surface of an Apollo mission (single Saturn V but to lunar surface)...
 

ecarfan

Well-Known Member
Sep 21, 2013
19,226
13,877
West Vancouver, British Columbia
Robert Zubrin posted an op-ed piece at Space News explaining how to build a Moon base quickly using SpaceX:
While I appreciate the main message of Zubrin’s article — that the SLS and Deep Space Gateway are fundamentally irrational pieces of hardware and that SpaceX offers transportation services for a tiny fraction of the price — it appears to me that he glosses over the true cost of such a moonbase: developing and building all the necessary hardware that he describes and which currently does not exist. The list is long: various sizes of H2/O2 rocket engines (would have to go to Blue Origin for those), lunar landers with 12 ton payload capacity, solar panel arrays suitable for use on the moon, high-data-rate communications gear for use on the moon, microwave power-beaming set up with a range of 100 kilometers, two crew vehicles for use on the lunar surface, a “trailer”, and a group of tele-operated robotic rovers, 12-ton lunar surface habitation module, Lunar Excursion Vehicle (LEV), electrolysis/refrigeration unit to convert mined water ice to hydrogen and oxygen, and probably other major pieces of hardware that I have missed as well as a large number of smaller pieces of hardware that he does not list.

It will cost billions to develop and build all that hardware. I’m fine with cancelling SLS and DSG right now and diverting all that money to the project Zubrin proposes, but the reality is that is not going to happen because powerful senators will not allow it

Regardless, I applaud Zubrin’s proposal and am happy to see him call out the SLS and DSG for the ridiculous waste of money that they are.
 
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mongo

Well-Known Member
May 3, 2017
13,034
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Michigan
While I appreciate the main message of Zubrin’s article — that the SLS and Deep Space Gateway are fundamentally irrational pieces of hardware and that SpaceX offers transportation services for a tiny fraction of the price — it appears to me that he glosses over the true cost of such a moonbase: developing and building all the necessary hardware that he describes and which currently does not exist. The list is long: various sizes of H2/O2 rocket engines (would have to go to Blue Origin for those), lunar landers with 12 ton payload capacity, solar panel arrays suitable for use on the moon, high-data-rate communications gear for use on the moon, microwave power-beaming set up with a range of 100 kilometers, two crew vehicles for use on the lunar surface, a “trailer”, and a group of tele-operated robotic rovers, 12-ton lunar surface habitation module, Lunar Excursion Vehicle (LEV), electrolysis/refrigeration unit to convert mined water ice to hydrogen and oxygen, and probably other major pieces of hardware that I have missed as well as a large number of smaller pieces of hardware that he does not list.

It will cost billions to develop and build all that hardware. I’m fine with cancelling SLS and DSG right now and diverting all that money to the project Zubrin proposes, but the reality is that is not going to happen because powerful senators will not allow it

Regardless, I applaud Zubrin’s proposal and am happy to see him call out the SLS and DSG for the ridiculous waste of money that they are.

In your discussion of equipment needed and logistics difficulty, are you considering the planned ability of BFS to travel to the moon and return to Earth without a moon based refueling?
 

Grendal

SpaceX Moderator
Jan 31, 2012
5,870
7,266
Santa Fe, New Mexico
In your discussion of equipment needed and logistics difficulty, are you considering the planned ability of BFS to travel to the moon and return to Earth without a moon based refueling?

Refueling would need to happen. It would just happen in Earth orbit according to Elon when he introduced the BFR. If they had methane and LOX on the Moon, it could happen there too. If BFR/BFS happens as expected and is a critical piece of getting a Moonbase built then they may as well build a refueling center there for BFS.

Here is some ideas from Isaac Arthur.
 
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Nikxice

Active Member
Oct 31, 2014
1,101
1,861
Hudson, NH
I'll give Robert Zubrin credit for his endorsement of SpaceX's rockets and his exuberance for a Moon base. His four year timeline seems to good to be true. Even facing an extended crunch time during the sixties, Grumman took almost seven years to produce a space-worthy LM. Minor nitpick, Zubrin refers to it as a Lunar Excursion Module. That name was actually dropped several years before it flew. It was still pronounced LEM, but NASA felt that an "excursion" sounded too much like a day at the beach. Perhaps the biggest challenge Grumman faced was learning where to shave weight while insuring the safety of humans occupants. Zubrin is asking much more of his proposed LEV, fifty years later lunar gravity remains unchanged.
 
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mongo

Well-Known Member
May 3, 2017
13,034
39,248
Michigan
Refueling would need to happen. It would just happen in Earth orbit according to Elon when he introduced the BFR. If they had methane and LOX on the Moon, it could happen there too. If BFR/BFS happens as expected and is a critical piece of getting a Moonbase built then they may as well build a refueling center there for BFS.

Here is some ideas from Isaac Arthur.

Yah, some number of Earth orbit BFS-tankers get sent up to top off their sister ships before BFS-cargo or BFS-crew head to the moon. The post mentioned needing Hydrogen/ Oxygen engines and on moon fuel production so I wasn't sure where that requirement came from.
 
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ecarfan

Well-Known Member
Sep 21, 2013
19,226
13,877
West Vancouver, British Columbia
In your discussion of equipment needed and logistics difficulty, are you considering the planned ability of BFS to travel to the moon and return to Earth without a moon based refueling?
My post addressed the specific plan that Zubrin laid out in his article. His plan would use F9 and FH launches to build the moonbase. His main point is that SpaceX right now has the capability to provide the transport to build a moonbase at a cost that is easily within NASA’s budget if the SLS/DSG boondoggle is cancelled. No BFR required.

Would the BFR make his moonbase project easier? Yes because it would not require refueling on the moon. But all the other components of the moonbase would still be needed, and they would take many years to develop and at a very significant cost.

His article makes such a moonbase project sound relatively easy, as if the SpaceX transport services were the bulk of the cost. I feel Ike he is deliberately obscuring the development time and cost of the other components of the project.
 

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