Moon Miners' Manifesto
#96 June 1996
Section 22.214.171.124.096.of the Artemis Data Book
The Quest for Elbow Room
'THE QUEST FOR ELBOW ROOM"
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
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,
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
- mass of capital equipment for processing, manufac-turing, and assembly and
construction that must be brought from Earth to realize the capacity.
- number of man-hours needed to process, manufac-ture, assemble and deploy
equivalent structures in the competing materials
- diversity and variability of modular plans to which the competing module
suites lend themselves
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 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
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 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.
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
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
The quest for elbow room will be a permanent feature of Lunan settlement
Contents of this issue of Moon Miners' Manifesto
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