Wheelchair Vehicle Access in the Lunar Settlement
One of the infrequently asked questions about the Artemis Project
is whether facilities on the moon will be accessible to the handicapped. We
will encounter some problems when we start designing passenger rockets because,
like aircraft, these rockets will need a way to get the passengers to safety
very quickly. And, like aircraft, the risk might be significantly higher
to someone who relies on a wheelchair. Now that we've recognized that
problem, we can safely say that it's very likely that once we ignite the
engines for the initial launch from Earth, a wheelchair-bound passenger should
encounter considerably fewer problems in space than on Earth.
All our facilities should be a Total Access Site, at least for anyone
with two working arms and hands. Wheelchairs are unnecessary in zero g,
so the major issue is on the moon. The low gravity of the moon, coupled with
our extensive dependence on robots, make it difficult to design the lunar
habitat any other way.
We probably will do fine with ladders and a bipedal crew for the first two or
three flights. Even then, in 1/6 it's mostly arms and hands, so a person with
good motor control of the upper body still might be able to get around and
function happily on the moon.
start maintaining robots on the moon and depending on them for
intravehicular work, maintaining the lunar base and tending the farm,
we'll have to accommodate wheels. A wheelchair can go anywhere a wheeled
robot can go, which in practice will turn out to be practically anywhere
inside a lunar settlement. With just a bit of accommodation in the design
of the facilities, such as making sure a wheelchair can get through
pressure doors, even the lunar surface will be accessible to wheels.
So, based on this scenario, we can conclude that there is no reason
that someone should abandon plans for a trip to the moon just because he
needs a wheelchair on Earth.
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