ASI W9700479r1.0

Moon Miners' Manifesto

#96 June 1996

Section the Artemis Data Book

The Quest for Elbow Room

Peter Kokh


Relevant Readings from Back Issues of MMM

MMM # 5 MAY '87, "LunARchitecture"
MMM # 28 SEP '89, p 5, "Sardine Can Fatalism"
MMM # 48 SEP '91, p 4 "Hostels: Foreword"
MMM # 49 OCT '91, pp. 3-7 "Hostel Share of Workload"
MMM # 50 NOV '91, pp. 6-8 "Hostel Architectures"
MMM # 75 MAY '94, p 1 "Lebensraum"; pp 4-6 "Successful Lunar Appropriate Modular Architecture"
MMM # 80 NOV '94, pp. 9-10, "Stretching Out"

"Canned" habitat space

If spacesuits are restrictive, so will be "canned" Made on Earth habitat modules. In the beginning, there will be no easy alternative. On the Moon, local building materials and the factories to produce them and use them to manufacture shelter components will be an early "priority", read "not-immediately-realizable". Competing designs for habitat modules to be built on Earth and shipped to the Moon will be judged both on how compact they are and on how light they are. These are unavoid-able shipping concerns with all foreseeable transport options.

There is a long tradition behind sardine can space, much of it in pre-nuclear era submarines. That people on short tours of duty a few months long at best can adapt to such cramped hot-racking conditions with minimal privacy or other personal amenities is well established. Anything is bearable if there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Relief from good human factors design

But a lunar Outpost Interface is not meant to be a military operation. It is a facility that cannot fulfill its mission if it does not foster experimental and even artistic creativity in learning to adapt to an utterly unfamiliar environment with no experience-recognizable assets. The base will have to be much better designed than a WWII era sub to foster the high morale needed for success under the challenging circumstances. Pairs of berths used in shift sequence can trade off shared elbow room personal space, via a movable partition. Common areas can be cheerfully decorated and partitioned to create the illusion of more complex, therefore psychologically more generous space. There should be getaway retreats one can sign up to use, and quiet spaces, and noisy gregarious spaces. And there should be rotation of duties, qualifications allowing.

Hybrid rigid inflatables

Well before "in situ architecture" using locally produced building materials begins to supply substantially more spacious quarters for personnel, activities, and operations, hybrid "rigid-inflatable" modules that compact for shipment, and expand upon deployment, all the works and systems in a rigid attached component (end cap, floor, ceiling, or central core). Such hybrids with their fold down, pop out, snap up furnishings opening into the inflatable space out of the attached rigid works section, will solve the frequent objection to inflatables based on the need to spend much time outfitting them after deployment. [see the MMM # 50 reference above.]

These hybrids will allow more generous, if still tight, personal quarters, and common space for recreational activities which could not previously be supported. more importantly they will offer space for more storage of equipment, samples, and experimentation - all prerequisites to advancing to more demanding mission tasks in the overall framework of learning how to live and work productively on the Moon.

Time sharing and other tricks

Time-sharing of all common facilities by a full three shifts will always be essential to getting the most product out of every facility and piece of equipment per dollar spent and time elapsed. On Earth, the part time use of facilities in line with day shift chauvinism is the single most wasteful aspect of all terrestrial economies. Fortunately, on the Moon artificial lighting sequences allows us to engineer out of existence any advantage of one shift over the other, removing all chauvinism and preferential treatment.

Providing the option of duty reassignment and or the chance to be reassigned to other sites, or at least to visit them, will greatly relieve the symptom of feeling trapped and caged. The flip side is that this need will motivate parties involved to open up ancillary sites, making a humble down payment on an interdependent multi-site domestic lunar global economy.

Made on Luna shelter

Even with this expanded repertoire of tricks, imported pressurized space will remain at a premium. The flip side is that there will be an equal premium, a reward incentive, for the early development of lunar building materials and an ever expanding suite of shelter components made from them. The options most frequently considered are lunar steel, lunar concrete, and lunar glass-glass composites. The points on which a decision will be made are these:

For successful "Lunar Outpost Conversion" i.e. transition from an Outpost Interface to a Settlement Incubator, timely steps must be made to develop lunar building materials and manufacturing and construction methods suitable to them. We must take the plunge, not just talk about it. For more, see the MMM # 75 reference given above.

lava tubes - real but limited relief

The use of spacious lunar lavatubes which provide lots of ready made protected "lee vacuum" are most attractive for the expansion of area-intensive industries and warehousing operations. But in themselves, lavatubes do not address the need for expansive pressurized volume, only the doing away with the need for emplacement of regolith shielding. In lava tubes the same solutions apply: good human factors design and time sharing, the use of hybrid rigid inflatables, followed by the introduction of shelter space built of lunar materials.

Well down the road, if ways are developed to safely seal and pressurize their vast volumes, lava tubes could provide all the elbow room Lunans will want for a long time to come. But that day does not seem to be just around the corner.

Altered expectations

The American expectation of some 750 square feet of housing per person, will not translate well to the Moon, nor should it. In the typical room, many spaces are minimally used. Dining rooms for example. Even bedrooms. The Lunan home architect / planner will need to develop multi-use spaces, with fewer rooms that are in fuller use.

Bedrooms can double as office, sewing room, den, or whatever. How? Back to the Murphy bed and the efficiency apartment idea. A bed that is unoccupied and neatly dressed may look nice, but two thirds of the day is just wasting dearly bought space. Dining will be another function that time-shares space with other activities. And so on. Native-born Lunans who've known no other way to live, will look on our homes as expressions of an obscene waste of space. (A four bedroom home to himself, this writer is more guilty than most).

The Great Home concept

This said (on the need for fuller time use of domestic space), opposing considerations demand attention. Families and households do not stay the same in their need for space. They grow and they contract. Our typical response is to move to larger or smaller quarters as appropriate. Or we add on to existing structures as the household grows, building additions.

As the pool of new housing may be in priority demand for new arrivals on the Moon, the mobility index of Lunans could well be much lower. Moving may be a less facile solution. Nor will expansion be easy. In the early era, habitat space is likely to be modular and individually shielded against the host vacuum. That will make construction of additions a much more expensive, difficult, tricky, and even risky proposition than on Earth. It'll be more logical and easier to build a homespace large enough from the gitgo to accommodate the average fully grown family, perhaps even with "mother-in-law space". The "Great Home" concept.

Properly designed, a Great Home's temporarily extra volume can be put to good use. For example it can include a separable autonomous apartment that can be rented out to new couples on a waiting list for their own home, or as bed and breakfast space for travelers. Or it can house a family's startup cottage industry. It will be easier and less expensive to put room space designed for future household growth to good use, than to disruptively construct add-on room when needed.

The street

The pressurized passageways of the settlement will be the glue that holds everything together. Modular individually shielded pressurized units will open onto the street/alley/gallery network, tying everything into one continuous mini-biosphere complex.. We suspect such passages will also be multi-use social glue areas, with broad enough shoulders for landscaped strip parks and garden terraces, areas for marketing cottage industry wares, wears, and home-made foods, for rummage sales and street entertainers, sidewalk cafes and relaxing park benches amidst the thriving activity of an intensely productive settlement. Like our suburban malls, settlement streets will be the place the place to hang out and socialize.

Well sound-buffered, the streets will be active 24 hours serving a fully three-shift settlement, with no shift having any natural privileges. During the nearly 15 day long dayspan, streets can be naturally sunlit around the clock. During the equally long nightspan they can be artificially lit.

Commercial and industrial space

In similar fashion, shops and stores (those that are not Ma and Pop operations, anyway) and factories will need to justify their expensive pressurized square footage by being open for business and operating around the clock to serve and employ three equal shifts of the population. This will even go for administration, libraries, schools, and parks. Nothing short of this can possibly be justified.

Tricks again

As with domestic spaces, good human factors design can make small spaces seem larger. Important in public spaces will be variety and change of ambiance from place to place. Much as in the Moscow Metro (subway) each station is a totally different work of art remarkable unto itself, street architects and landscapers may be called on to give each individual passage its own personality, probably with strong neighborhood involvement and feedback. Surface finishes can differ. Landscaping patterns and the planting mix can differ. And surely, as a unique expression of each neighborhood, sidewalk-showcased cottage industries will differ. The result will be to make the settlement-as-a-whole seem satisfyingly larger and more "metropolitan" in flavor and complexity than its small population might suggest. That'll be a happy, healthy effect.

ore than a short term problem

Some generations into lunar development and settlement, Lunans may begin to move into more Earthlike settings as pressurized mega-structures are built within which individual buildings of a type more familiar to us can be built, open to the faux sky blue firmament of a crater spanning dome or rille-bridging vault or within a spacious sealed, pressurized, yet sunlit lava tube complex. We dare predict space will still be at a premium. For we've been neglecting (rather postponing the discussion of) something vitally important.

Mini-biospheres need elbow room too!

It is not enough to relieve psychological crowding for the inhabitants. If they are to thrive, it is even more important that the biosphere be ample and grow, not just in pace with the population, but well ahead of it. That is it should be the goal to quadruple the supporting biomass as we double the population, so that the per capita biosphere support increases to a more healthful, more Earthlike ratio. Not only will lunar settlements see the return of the farming village, we will want to add wilds and nature preserves, greatly diversify the flora as well as the food crop mix, and continue to work in ever more wildlife. Long term, it is only such a development that can secure a settlement's future, advancing it toward biospheric self-maintenance. Also long term, it is only the hope and expectation of continued real progress in this direction that will make lunar settlements psychologically healthy places for Lunans to live and work and raise families.


The quest for elbow room will be a permanent feature of Lunan settlement culture. MMM

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