ASI W9600493r1.1

Moon Miners' Manifesto

#90 November 1995

Section the Artemis Data Book

Site Management

Moon Miners' Manifesto Issue #90


It's simple, really. We just plop down a basic habitat module and throw some moondust over it for good luck, add some solar panels or a small nuke, a radiator, an antenna, and a rover - and, voila, we have a Moonbase! Whoa! Doesn't that leave a lot of unanswered questions? How will our little baby develop? Are we going to be so quick to show around the latest snapshots of our offspring a few years down the road?

Will future growth and development of our little bundle show that it had "good genes," or "bad" ones? A well-thought-out site management philosophy with a full deck of guideline zoning protocols, in place from day one, will help guarantee that we will be proud parents, not just shortly after birth, but well down the road. That's adding "good genes." If we fail to do this, or put it off as unimportant, the future of our creation will be "amorphous," and since corrective and reactive measures are never as effective as proactive ones (and always too late), an unhappy McMurdo-style mess is sure to result if we don't care enough now - while we are planning.

If a definite site, mapped from orbit down to near-meter-scale detail, has been predetermined, then our site management plan can be quite specific in its initial design, with zoning of the immediate vicinity well thought out. One would hope this is the case.

If, however, we have only a general location in mind, we'll leave picking the actual site up to the good judgment of the pilot of the lunar descent vehicle bringing in the first load, then all we can have prepared is a manual on the "General Principles of Lunar Base Site Management." This is how the Apollo landing sites were picked: neighborhood by NASA, block and lot by the LM pilot. It's unlikely that this will be the case the next time around, when we go to the Moon, not for a science picnic, but to start (hopefully) a settlement.

We'll probably even have ready a name for the host site, our new neighborhood, as distinct from the name of the outpost itself, e.g. Pioneer Flats, Artemis Beach, New World Plain, Dawn Valley, etc. Perhaps some of the names will reflect who donated how much cash to the project.

The important thing to remember is that no matter how much individual pioneers and scouts may care, without a pre-agreed-upon and then religiously pursued game of site management, chaos will inexorably insert itself. Once allowed a chance to rule, chaos takes on a powerful life of its own. Witness McMurdo Sound in Antarctica, before Greenpeace photographers shamed us before ourselves and all the world. Compare cities that have grown up with a reference master plan and those (Third World villages-become-infrastructureless-megacities, and, to be fair, many a European medieval city as well) that suddenly mushroomed like cancerous weed patches.

Basic Principles

An outpost is more than an architectural complex that we are going to put there, snap its picture, and then leave as a monument. It is presumably a nucleus from which long-term "operations" will flow. These operations will impact the site. We need to give as much thought to fitting operations to site as we do to the design of the bent metal of the outpost itself.

At the same time, it would be naive to assume we can accurately pre-glimpse the full range of activities that will characterize our lunar presence down the road, as base becomes outpost and outpost becomes village and village becomes a settlement town. Our site management philosophy and game plan must necessarily be amendable. What we need is something to start from, a handbook of "how not to paint ourselves into a corner." And that is not that tall an order.

Perhaps others will have something to add to this recipe for a lunar beachhead site management masterplan, but at least a first stab at it would seem to indicate we need to make room for the following:

As/if our presence expands by orders of magnitude, the site plan for the perimeter of the base will have to give way to newer plans that embrace ever larger and larger peripheral areas. No problem - if the original plan has good genes.

Aesthetic Zoning Protocols

While many a technician or scientist or engineer lucky enough to be part of the original short-term crews may not care, the morale both of those who will come for longer stays, and of the millions of supporters at home who will peer over their shoulders electronically, vistas out the windows of the outpost observation domes (or whatever) ought to show both human (thoughtfully)-transformed areas as well as broad expanses of "magnificent desolation" that are minimally disturbed (or restored). In planning the site, we need to be aware of what areas are in sight from outpost "windows" and what areas will be within the horizons of those coming and going between spaceport and outpost. We need to know which areas of high ground will be broadly visible, as well as which areas will be hidden from view of the window ports of either outpost or spaceport coach. Some of this can hopefully be left in its undisturbed state, visitable from sinter-paved walks or trails. Other parts of the perimeter, necessarily disturbed in the base erection and deployment process, or in base expansion, can be "restored," regraded and raked. Additional handsome areas can be Japanese style sand and rock gardens, or sculpture gardens - the start of uniquely lunan urban/rural "landscaping."

Scenic "easements" cannot be left for afterthought, even in later expansion of the site. Making provision for them will not make setting up our base or outpost any more expensive. It will simply require a bit of timely patience.

As mining operations begin, the availability of large volumes of tailings for the creation of man-made hillocks or embankments to shield storage and equipment areas from casual view will create new options. As we are fairly certain such activities and opportunities will develop, we can take the availability of tailings into consideration in devising the scenic provisions and easements of our overall site plan and its subsequent revision as the base-to-settlement unfolds itself.

Thus we will have both natural and human-landscaped areas. For either, the availability of cleared boulders, shards, and other debris becomes so many opportunities for the lunar landscape architect.

Lunar "parklands" and scenic preserves need to be part of every expansion of the radius of operations. With such a philosophy, travelers, visitors, and vacationers will never need to be assaulted with the ugly exposed entrails of our industrializing impact on our adoptive new home world.

Storage and warehousing areas, mining and industrial centers can be out of sight behind scarps, crater walls, ridges (natural or manmade), hills, berms, in lava tubes, under ramada sheds, etc. The same goes for power generation, heat rejection, and other necessary systems, unless architecturally complementary to the moonscape. After all, we will need to be visually reassured of the presence of both the technical and biospheric support eco-systems for maintenance of our presence on this, of itself, alien world. We need to see both the undisturbed beauty, and evidence that we are supported in our needs. The point is that the latter need not be presented chaotically and in disordered fashion. A basic set of aesthetic zoning protocols will do the trick. The up-front cost will be minimal. Down the road, such foresight may become a definite economic plus.

The idea of lunar "landscaping" should be taken seriously by Earthside supporters with ready creative instincts and experience. We can't go around planting "evergreens" or other trees, bushes, and flower beds. But we can do something analogous, assist in the "blooming" of the lunar soil, by bringing into being various human-midwived extrusions of surface materials. This is not so unlike what Nature does as it brings out various life-midwived extrusions of the geological elements on our own planet.

With mining tailings and other material leftover from road grading, cutting passes through ridges or crater walls, etc. it will not be impossible to create what until now have only been fantasy mountainscapes of craggy peaks, etc. In lieu of flower beds, we can boulevard or "tree-line" our main settlement approaches with crystal glass snowflakes, ceramic stalagmites, and other roadside sculptures meant to be panned in passing. Roads can also be curbed with split and possibly polished breccias and other lunar "rocks" displaced in the grading process. Nor are we stuck with a palette of grays. We can whitewash with lime (Calcium Oxide) or with Titanium Dioxide, even Aluminum Oxide. We can collect the iron-rich orange soil found first at Shorty Crater, and more recently all over the place by Clementine, and use it in concentrated form to give areas various tints from rust to orange to cantaloupe. And a sprinkling of sulfur could provide a yellow.

Sculpture forests can be planned so that they take on whole new aspects as the Sun slowly marches across the lunar dayspan skies. Trees? Why, we have already made trees of aluminum and aluminum foil for Christmas time. Why not sculpture "trees" which are outgrowths not of life, but of the inner potential of aluminum, iron, magnesium, and glass? They could be made stiff and immutable, but why not also with fairy gossamer "leafage" to flutter in the "breeze" of changing sunlight angles and mutual shading interference. "Trees" and "bushes" can be modular in construction using controlled "natural" randomization to vary size and branching patterns and nature-like deviations from symmetry. They could be laden with glass prism fruit to cast an everchanging pattern of rainbow colors. Let your imagination soar. This won't happen all at once, but give it time!

At night, UV and neon lighting will eventually be lunar supportable options. Even passive electrofluorescent lighting, driven by the Sun angle and/or occasional solar flares - to give an ever changing ambiance - is a possibility.

Road embankments can be dressed with cast basalt or ceramic tiles with various textures and designs. "Pebbledash" panels are also a simple option.

In short, the resources of the future lunar "landscaper" know few bounds. The point is leaving thoughtfully saved zones and sectors for him or her to give creative expression.

Other Zoning Protocols

Last month, in our article on "Dust Control" [MMM #89 pp. 5-6] we discussed the wisdom of sintering (lightly fusing the surface grains to a load-appropriate depth) aprons around airlocks, and of sinter-paving areas of regular traffic (roads) and areas of regular, routine activity such as areas where exterior systems are placed, or exposed or sheltered "lee" space storage areas for items needed on a frequent basis - the purpose being simply dust control. This can be guaranteed by carefully drawn up zoning protocols and guidelines.

Storage and Warehousing Protocols

We will discuss this topic at length in the article that follows. The old adage, "a place for everything and everything in its place" is the guiding philosophy we must devotedly pursue if we are to keep chaos at bay. Do not provide each category with a storage place of its own and voila, you have instant unrecoverable disaster, a good example of which is the Manifesto office where this is being written.

Growth Vectors - the Site Plan

While surely we will add new modules to the original outpost complex, it is unlikely that, as we move from outpost to pre-settlement village, and then on to settlement town, that we will just keep adding on. We may want to identify areas of the surrounding moonscape for starting afresh, for example, once we are able to use made-on-site building materials to take care of the bulk of our expansion needs. In time the original imported outpost transplanted from factories on Earth may be decommissioned and transferred to other uses: a spartan "hotel" for early visitors, or preserved "as is" as an "historic park."

Any new "village" or "town" needs to have a plan for expanding residential, agricultural, commercial, industrial, service, educational, administrative and other zones, properly separated, properly intertwined and interspersed, neighborhood after neighborhood, as we grow. We certainly do not need to set out from Earth with such a City Plan already brainstormed in detail. We simply need to be armed with a plenary set of principles, if even in library form.

Exclave Concessions

We should not think of the moonbase site as encompassing a single contiguous area of set radius from our starter outpost. Depending on the legal regime(s) that may apply, our "concession" or "charter" may designate a fairly generous radius, more and more of which we will occupy and transform as time goes on.

But if we are to move in the direction of providing for an ever larger portion of our material needs as well as export potential through the use of resources indigenous to the Moon, then we may want/need to range further afield to access special deposits of minerals not found within the original site radius.

If we pick a "coastal" site, astride a boundary between highland and mare terrain, this will give us immediate access to the two major regolith soil groups. But we will still need to have access to KREEP (potassium, rare earth elements, and phosphorus) deposits such as those represented in the splash-out from the formation of the Mare Imbrium (Sea of Rains) basin over three billion years ago. Central peaks of larger craters represent a fourth suite of minerals. And then we may find Sudbury-like astroblemes rich in asteroid-impact-donated lodes of iron, nickel, and more importantly, copper.

Thus we will need to set up "Exclave Concessions" as well and provide and maintain traffic corridors to such out-sources as well as to other destinations like additional (rival or secondary supportive or dependent) outposts and settlements. Each will need its own Site Management Plan.

Contents of this issue of Moon Miners' Manifesto

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