Moon Miners' Manifesto
#88 September 1995
Section 184.108.40.206.088.of the Artemis Data Book
"In the (new) Beginning, . . ." (Starting over on the Moon)
APOLLOS 11 - 17: I. Bursting Apollo's "Envelope"
Apollo was without precedent. For scouts of Earth to break free from their
womb planet and set foot on what had always been an unreachable celestial
sphere was a clean break with all that had gone before. It electrified
civilization for a moment. Yet for all that these nine manned missions to the Moon
accomplished, six of them landing, so many really basic things were left
undone that roundly shattering that precedent will be easy. We mean no
disrespect! But, yes, easy.
- Twelve men set foot on the Moon. Yet none of them slept in a bed there. The
LEMs had only hammock-slings. All twelve walked in one-sixth gravity, but
only with cumbersome pack-laden pressure suits -- the pressurized LEM "cage"
was scarcely big enough to pace back and forth in place. So no one
experienced what it is like to walk in lunar gravity, not really.
- All of the missions were (lunar) morning ones. No one experienced a lunar
sunset, a lunar night, a lunar dawn. We never even hung around into local
- We ate and slept in our station wagon, not even pitching a tent. In effect
we just picnicked there. Since our vehicle was our shelter, we took it with
us when we left, and there is no camp, no cottage, to which we might return.
We never visited any site more than once. We left no "building" on the Moon,
not bringing any with us, not erecting any.
- We never stayed long enough to plant, or grow, much less to harvest. Even
the science we did was just field-work collection stuff. We brought along no
lab. Nor did we play much. Sure, we romped around in our suits, hit a golf
ball, and playfully rigged our flags so they looked like they were flapping
in some vacuous breeze. Playful, yes. Play, no.
- We were there, that's all. Like Kilroy. And then we were gone, and are gone
still. We took samples from which to learn , but
which have since been guarded so jealously by an intermediating
class "lest we never return" that we have not been free to learn from these
samples what we might make out of what the Moon is made of, as if to
guarantee that we would never find the confidence to return on a
- We left stuff, too -- more than footprints, stuff that could someday be prized
pioneer relics in local lunar museums. But to date, more than two decades
later, these leavings only remind us of our failure to build upon what we had
done, to stand tall on the shoulders of our heroes. The "revolution in
history" has been downgraded to an anomaly, a distraction.
A new beginning
So much of both the technology and the expertise that carried the Apollo
program on to its brilliant successes has been lost, dismantled, even
deliberately destroyed that we can no longer just repeat these humble
sorties. They cannot even be called beginnings since they have been robbed of
the chance to lead to something more that follows.
Not quite. We have the knowledge, the record, and some teasing results of
matter-starved experiments that suggest what we might be able to do with
lunar regolith -- make oxygen, iron and steel, aluminum and titanium, cast
basalt and ceramic objects, sinter blocks and concrete, glass and glass
composites -- in effect fuel, air, water, tankage, vehicle and habitat parts,
furniture and furnishings. We could even do out-of-fashion soil-based
farming. Bring back with us but talented people, tools, and seeds, and we
might just make a go of it.
With the total absence of political will, any return will have to be humble,
laying down a few foundation stones at a time. Our first beachhead can
become permanent only in time. But even if the first crew returns home for some
while before the next is sent, it will have been easy to shatter all
Apollo's achievements with the first mission.
- We leave a habitat structure on the Moon, perhaps returning to an
awaiting orbiting ferry (serving a function like Apollo's command modules)
ascending on a cabinless platform (not unlike the Apollo rover) protected
just by space suits.
- Our habitat has room enough to walk around, and to sleep horizontally in
cots or on air mattresses, and is big enough to boast both private and common
- We "dig in" our shelter, placing it under a soil-shielded canopy or
heaping soil directly upon it to make longer stays possible without high
accumulative radiation exposure. Now we have a camp, a cabin, a cottage on
the Moon, a permanent structure to come back to, and from which to expand in
due course, as we learn to do so step by step, using primarily building
materials made on location.
- We leave an electronic beacon so that follow-on missions can make
instrumented landings at the same spot.
- We stay not only all "day" but past sunset, outlast the long-two week
night, and start a new lunar "day" before going home. This will be quite a
feat, not unlike the first "overwintering" on Antarctica. Even with a nuke
source for energy, we'll have less power than during the dayspan when we can
tap sunlight as well. We'll have to switch from energy-intensive tasks during
dayspan to manpower-intensive energy-light tasks during nightspan,
establishing a lunar rhythm that may forever after give life on the Moon much
of its characteristic flavor. In the process, we'll have to have in place an
advanced, possibly bio-assisted, life-support system regenerating our air
and water supplies. We'll also have had to demonstrate, probably in an
unmanned dry run, thermal stability of the station through the nightspan.
Shielding will help here too, minimizing exposure to the heat sink of space.
- If we stay six weeks or more, we can plant some salad stuffs and bring
them to harvest -- the first feat for lunar farming and agriculture to come.
- We might try some brief sorties outside the station during nightspan.
That means headlights, that means lubricants that can take the cold -- or
magnetic bearings. That means heated spacesuits or an infrared radiating cage
or a minimal cabin.
- We bring along pilot oxygen production equipment (?), demonstration iron
fine and gas scavenging equipment (?), a solar furnace to experiment with cast
basalt, ceramics firings, iron sintering, and glass production. We have
brought along some basic tools for fabricating sample test objects.
- There is a parallel Earthside "Moon station" in which problems on the
Moon can be addressed in close simulation, and in which terrestrial
brainstormers can proactively outline suggested new experimental exploits for
the lunar crew.
Settlement is a long way down the road. But since we are determined to make
that journey, we have to begin humbly with some lowly first steps. What lies
between our previous "science picnic" visits and "settlement"? Here are some
more relevant "meanings" my dictionary offers for some of the words we've
been bandying about. Running through them might help clarify our thoughts
about what comes first.
- (1) a bottom support on which a thing stands or rests; (6) the point
of attachment; (7) a starting point or point of departure; (9) a supply
installation that supports operations.
- a place where a group of persons is lodged in temporary shelters.
- a fortified, protected place (here, living quarters and operations
center, in a physically hostile environment, shielded against radiation,
vacuum, and thermal extremes).
- (3) a special contained environment for living in over an extended
period in a life-hostile setting.
- an inexpensive, spartanly equipped lodging offering minimal shelter
for short-stay travelers.
- a station established at a distance from the main body; a post
or settlement in a foreign environment.
- (6) a place equipped for some particular kind of work, service,
research, or activity, usually semipermanent.
While all of these terms are applicable as far as they go, none of them is
especially instructive. And most of them are static, not suggestive of
leading anywhere, thus requiring separate justification of any further
steps, and thus likely to become self-limiting.
We suggest that we space advocates, who really want to see human outsettlement, wean ourselves of such
terms as Moonbase, Lunar Outpost, etc. and look for more pregnant terms that
suggest a sequence of phases that lead to something much more. If we find
better terms, we must popularize them and thus alter the culture in which
space futures are discussed. Words are not neutral. We must pay attention
to their downside or self-limiting connotations. We are in a battle for the
soul of humanity. We have to stop using the weapons the enemy gives us and
forge our own.
Let us suggest some other terms whose applicability might seem a little
forced at first thought, but which we think you'll agree are rather
- the area that is the first objective of a party landing on an
alien shore, which, once secured and established, can serve as a base of
expansion of the occupation.
- an artificial environment that enables fragile beginnings to
become hardy enough to thrive outside.
- a common boundary (between two worlds -- e.g., the life-coddling
Earth and the barren and sterile Moon); (4) something that enables
separate and sometimes incompatible elements to communicate.
"Interface Beachhead" & "Settlement Incubator"
If our gambit strategy is to establish a habitat station which serves as an
effective interface with the Moon and its realities, then we suggest that the
menu of Apollo-besting items given above lists steps in the right direction.
We need to learn how to exist on the Moon, on its terms, through its cycles,
boosting our resources with those it offers. A successful first Interface
Beachead will allow us to carry on a whole range of human activities in a way
that comes to terms with lunar vacuum, lunar sixthweight, lunar day/night
cycles, lunar temperature swings, and the absence of organic materials in the
lunar soil. More challenging, we must interface with the Moon and learn to do
so flexibly, through the handicap of a micro-biospheric barrier as "bubble"
We have to begin mastering how to thrive on stuffs and materials we can
process from the lunar endowment. That means our interface
station / camp / outpost / base / beachhead must have expanding dedicated space for
processing and fabrication experiments, demonstrations, and production
operations. That means we have to put together talent, materials, and
opportunities for at least part-time artists and craftsman to learn how to
express themselves in the lunar idiom. Call it survival, call it living off
the land, call it acculturation, call it dealienization, call it adaptation,
call it adoption, call it "settling in."
We can't have wholesale rotation of crews. Even if everyone still goes home
after a while, those with hard-won on-site experience have to teach the
newcomers before they can turn things over. Our presence needs to be more
than serial. There has to be an effective "cultural memory" giving enduring
"soul" to our individual comings and goings. Given that, the
outpost / base / camp / station / interface beachhead will take on a "permanent" life
of its own, even though the day that "reupping" indefinitely (i.e., staying
for the duration of one's natural life) may be a good ways down the trail.
"Permanent" can apply to the physical structure. That is easy -- and "cheap"
in a fully pejorative sense. At the other extreme of application, it can also
apply individually to people who come to live out their remaining natural
lives with no real thought of ever returning to the "old" planet --
In between is the "permanence" of a growing acculturation between human and
Gaian on the one hand, and lunar on the other. While we never want to lose
sight of the longer-term goal, we need to reject rusting on the laurels of
achieving permanence in the first naked sense. All that would achieve is the
establishment of an eventual ruin or ghost camp.
Contents of this issue of Moon Miners' Manifesto
Moon Miners' Manifesto
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