#90 November 1995
Section 126.96.36.199.090.of the Artemis Data Book
Avoiding Chaos takes a Strategic Master Plan
From the very outset, in the first days when the lunar outpost is little more than a very elite group home, it will make rewarding sense to have in place a system of keeping track of everything. Pressurized storage space will be at a premium, woefully inadequate. It will be necessary even from day one to begin using the seemingly endless outvac as closet, attic, basement, shed, garage, and warehouse.
There will be stuff coming in from Earth, hopefully faster than it can be used - reserves. Reserve hydrogen, nitrogen, and carbon (possibly in the easier to store form of methane, CH4, and ammonia, NH3). Other volatiles and industrial reagents where necessary in the various processing operations. Volatiles, gasses and liquids, will be stored in tanks, and the beachhead site will sport a growing "tank farm" from the first or second landing onwards.
There will be co-imports: packing / crating materials, hopefully strategically made from cannibalizable materials that will become essential as lunar industry gets started in earnest and begins diversifying: copper and brass; stainless steel; polyethylene and polyurethane and other easy-to-remold polymer materials. ("Stowaway Imports," Back Issues reference).
There will be equipment, lots of it. Capital machinery to carry on early mining, materials processing, manufacturing and fabrication operations; equipment needed to set up electric power generation and thermal equilibrium maintenance; equipment needed for recycling wastes.
Many an item on ship manifests will need at least temporary storage outside. Where? First, of course, there will be an off-loading area at the humble spaceport. From there, it will be logical to move items to staging areas near where they will be used in industry, agriculture, construction, etc.
The next broad classification of items needing storage will be that of byproducts of human activities on the moon. Mining and processing operations will produce veritable mountains of "tailings." As these may be enriched sources of yet other elements, not yet processed, it make strategic sense not to lump all tailings together but keep separate those from each separate type of processing and ore beneficiation operation. Those tailings not especially enriched in anything, can, along with regolith moving surplus loads be used in landscaping operations as suggested above.
Manufacturing byproducts and quality control rejects should be carefully sorted each kind from the rest, against the day when they will become valuable feedstocks for industrial processes and entrepreneurial endeavors not yet begun, even not yet imagined.
Canisters of human fecal wastes can be stored in permashade where they will remain frozen and inert, against the day when they may be an invaluable source of fertilizer in food production and agriculture in general. Prior to storage, these wastes could spend some time in quartz covered trays in full dayspan sunlight, allowing solar ultraviolet to sterilize them thoroughly and effectively.
Finally, "miscellaneous" garbage and trash need to be stored in sorted form according to the nature of their primary and secondary recyclable content. If there has to be some residual Miscellaneous Storage Area, a catch-all for everything we cannot yet see a need for, then, nonetheless, each item needs description, qualification, and recording. As a master computer program senses a building accumulation of a particular type of material or stuff not yet separately stored, a new distinct storage area can be set aside, and we will know just where to get everything that can be moved thereto.
How? We use the Double Entry Barcoding Inventory system devised for Mir by John Voigt of Lakeshore Computers in Cleveland, WI. Each item is given a barcode, as is each storage location. As an item is stored, its barcode and that of its location are read as a pair. Nothing ever gets lost anymore.
Early export products will include liquid lunar oxygen, LOX or LUNOX for short, and possibly other fuels such as Silane, SiH4, both mainly for rocket fuel. These can be stored in the tank farms. If we practice "primage" (every time we move regolith, in road building or construction we heat the soil to extract the precious volatiles), we will begin accumulating gasses that may be useful someday: hydrogen, carbon, and nitrogen; garden variety helium and helium-3; neon, argon, krypton, and xenon. Someday these gasses will be the feedstocks of new industries, the springboard for a second wave of lunar industrialization and diversification. If need be, the primage extract can be stored as an undifferentiated brew, leaving separation of the various gasses for a later effort.
It may be wise to protect some of these stored materials under ramparts or shed-canopies, to protect them, not from the vacuum, but from attack from the lunar skies: UV, cosmic rays and solar flares, micrometeorites, and bi-monthly shock of alternating thermal extremes. Periodic tests should show if any degradation is operating, and accordingly if some items should be depreciated with storage age. Conversely, economic conditions and new entrepreneurial, industrial, and export opportunities, as well as import difficulties could work to appreciate the value of many items.
Some stores we may want out of sight. Yet an orderly storage yard in full sight, as an eloquent testimony of thoughtful self-providence, may be very reassuring, In contrast, the sight of a storage area in helter skelter chaos would be rather disquieting, let alone an eyesore. The yardmaster's job will be important. It is a job that must be filled, filled with the best.
Lavatubes, of whose existence we are confident from indirect evidence (rilles with natural bridges, strings of rimless collapse pits, analogy from terrestrial shield volcanoes made of similarly non-viscous lava), and whose likely scale and size dwarfs known Earthside analogs, present themselves as ideal warehouses. They keep everything out of sight and out of harm's way from the celestial elements.
They may not be used for that capacity right away, however, because it would seem that access could present some initially discouraging obstacles. We may need to either erect industrial elevators or grade negotiable access ramps down rough and rugged talus slopes from cave-in entrances. Yet certainly, their great volume and its weather-free character will guarantee their use for storage as soon as they can be found and access provided.
"A place for everything, and everything in its place." It's not just for closets and desks anymore! It's a philosophy that will bode well for our future on the moon, if we abide by it, providing an eventual industrial and entrepreneurial bonanza. Equally it is a philosophy which will spell out our sentence, if we give it but lip service. We can look at it as a sort of "Real Accounts" ledgers, in which we are dealing with real items, not just financial values.
Again, the operative condition is that we start such housekeeping practices from day one, for, as we have warned, chaos, once it has its foot in the door, takes on a life of its own, setting up conditions from which it will be extremely difficult to recover.
Contents of this issue of Moon Miners' Manifesto