Launch from Luna
Section 2.10.
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Shielding the Lunar Outpost from Engine Exhaust

We want to avoid dust in the landing areas for our rockets because of its tendency to go ballistic, literally. We have some historical precedent for this concern--the Surveyor 3 lunar lander visited by the Apollo 12 crew was sandblasted on the side facing the distant Apollo lunar lander.

Even with a regolith shield, there will be some exposed equipment. After the first landing, we'd be better off having a wall between the lunar base and the landing site. The trajectories of the ejecta from a rocket landing on the moon appear to be mostly horizontal (although some disagree with this) so a low wall or crater rim should be an adequate shield.

We were thinking of trucks, actually; big mesh-wheeled trailers dragged around by that little robot. Or a big frame of I-beams with large powered wheels than can pick up the modules and deposit them where we want.

If we're hauling around 12,000-lbm modules (those triple SPACEHAB modules, with outfitting) and aren't in a big hurry, we should be able to get by with a reasonable amount of power and structure in the surface transport vehicle. The modules will weigh less than 2,000 lbs on the moon. The idea of the surface transport vehicle came out of the realization that we might decide to move our original habitat once we find out what's there.

An alternative to landing around the corner so we don't sandblast the lunar base would be to pull some tarps over the exposed parts when we anticipate another landing. Even on the first flight, the crew could do that as their last task before they come home.

One concept we were exploring was building a tent over the habitat and piling up the regolith on that, rather than having the moon dust in direct contact with the exterior skin of the habitat. Or building a shield wall around the hab and roofing it over.

Launch from Luna

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