Space settlement roundup – Feb.13.2020

A sampling of recent articles, videos, and images related to human expansion into the solar system (see also previous space settlement postings):

**  Doug Plata of the Space Development Network gave two space settlement related talks at last fall’s convention of the Mars Society.  (There are many presentations available in the Convention Youtube collection.) The first of Doug’s talks was titled SpaceX Starship for Moon or Mars? in which he discussed

how, for each Starship, there would be 72 round trip flights to the Moon for every round trip flight to Mars. SpaceX could sell 72X more tickets if using their Starship for the Moon. For this reason, the Starship might end up being a Moon rocket initially.

The second talk was a Greenhouses Comparison:

Regarding the Space Development Network, Doug says,

For the last year, a great deal of work has been done developing one of the most extensive space advocate websites.  This website covers many aspects of space development, exploration, settlement, policy, and achieving Earth independence.  Not very many topics have been left out of the website.  So, check it out at:

Near-term plans for the Network are to inform more space advocates about the website and Network and the organizing of more working groups to move specific fields forward.

** The “Value of Mars Settlement” was discussed by Bishop James Heiser at the Mars Society Convention:

** Elon Musk recently sketched out how to enable a large Martian settlement using fully-reusable Starship transports: SpaceX’s Elon Musk and his plans to send 1 million people to Mars – Teslarati

Starship, which is currently in development for future deep-space travel, will be able to ferry as many as 100 passengers beyond low-Earth orbit. The way to achieving that goal is by reducing the cost of spaceflight. He would like for anyone who wants to go to Mars, to be able to.

“Needs to be such that anyone can go if they want, with loans available for those who don’t have money,” Musk wrote.

To that end, Musk said he wants to build a fleet of at least 1,000 Starships—and launch at least three of them every day.

The Starship system is the latest in SpaceX’s troupe of increasingly larger rockets. In 2018, the California-based aerospace company launched and landed its Falcon Heavy rocket for the first time, generating 5 million pounds of thrust from the rocket’s 27 engines. But even that’s not powerful enough for Mars-based missions.

“Megatons per year to orbit are needed for life to become multi-planetary,”  Musk tweeted on Thursday.

But the ship would also be able to navigate the tenuous Martian atmosphere and land safely on the red planet’s surface.

Musk estimates that a fleet of 1,000 Starships, able to tote 100 megatons of stuff to Mars, would be required to build a permanent settlement. That fleet could transport about 100 passengers each, totaling 100,000 people per year.

A SpaceX vision of a Mars settlement built with people and cargo transported via Starships.

** Learning how to live in early space settlements is helped by both simulated habitats like those of the Mars Society and real habitats in remote places like Antarctica: Mock and Real Mars habitats on Earth – Behind The Black

What struck me however was the nature of the place and the experience of living at a polar station that had to manage on the supplies on hand, during an arctic winter with no sun and temperatures routinely colder than -90 degrees Fahrenheit. In many more ways that the situation at the Mars Society’s Utah facility, the U.S. South Pole station did a great job of simulating closely what living at an early Mars base will be like.

Interestingly, some of the differences would like make living on Mars easier then at that 1999 station. Because of the lack of full atmosphere on Mars, any Mars base must be sealed from the outside environment. At the south pole, they did not do this, so that the inside temperatures were generally colder than one would like. This also meant that the crews were somewhat oxygen-starved by the end of the mission, as the facility was also at about 9,000 feet elevation and thus had a thinner atmosphere then what you’d likely find inside a Martian base.

** The EuroMoonMars mission team simulates a lunar mission using the remote HI-SEAS (Hawai’i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation) facility on Hawaii: European crew wraps up mock moon mission on volcano in Hawaii –

A crew of six scientists returned from “the moon” Saturday to wrap up two weeks exploring a mock lunar landscape on the side of a Hawaiian volcano. 

The scientists began their mission on Jan. 18 and have been working and living at the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation, or HI-SEAS, habitat as part of the third EuroMoonMars mission (EMMIHS-III) — a series of analog missions run in collaboration with the European Space Agency, the International MoonBase Alliance and HI-SEAS.

The habitat, located on a remote slope of Mauna Loa on the Big Island of Hawaii, has hosted groups of researchers and explorers on analog moon and Mars missions since its installation in 2013. Analog missions such as this put researchers in remote environments that mimick a stay on Mars or, in this case, the moon. In this environment they can conduct research while testing what it might be like for humans to spend time at a remote, off-Earth location.

The Hi-SEAS space habitat simulation facility on the northside of Mauna Loa, Hawaii

Find latest messages from the project at EMMIHS (@EmmihsM) / Twitter.

** Here is a perspective on living in deep space: How to optimise your headspace on a mission to Mars – Aeon Ideas

If there’s one thing the limited research shows, it’s that it’s hard to predict who will cope best and work well together as the weeks and months, maybe even years, wear on. Many factors can boost the chances of success, however, especially if crew members give each other precisely the kind of support and encouragement that people in prison are deprived of.

A well-performing team needs talented leaders and a closely knit group of people. They need to build trust between each other while they’re training, long before the rocket blasts off. Diverse, international crews could help to overcome some challenges that might come up, but that diversity also sometimes results in cultural and interpersonal problems. A larger crew would likely perform better than a smaller one, but the team’s size will always be limited by how much weight and fuel can be launched.

Once they’re in space, people need to keep busy, and they need to think they have something worthwhile to do, even if it’s actually of limited value. They also need a tiny bit of privacy and entertainment at times, which might include something they brought from home or a simulation of the family and friends they left behind. While at work, the crew members need clear goals and procedures to follow in a wide range of situations. Only people shown to be resilient under pressure for long periods and who have strong teamwork skills even in stressful, sleep-deprived conditions should be part of the crew.

** Building lunar settlements will likely rely on 3D printing techniques like that used by ESA in a test of making blocks from simulated Moon dust:  3D-printed block of moondust – ESA

Closeup of a 3D-printed block of simulated Moon dust. Credits: ESA

** The Luna-27 rover is a Russian project in collaboration with ESA to investigate the resources of the southern polar region of the Moon. The rover is expected to launch in 2022. The PROSPECT  instrument package, for example, will drill a meter deep into the regolith to examine various chemical properties and determine mineral and water content: One step closer to prospecting the Moon – ESA

Prospect includes a miniature laboratory called ProSPA which will analyse the soil samples retrieved by the drill. Precise measurements will help unearth the secrets of the Moon’s history and indicate whether future explorers could use lunar resources on their missions to help set up a lunar base.

The lunar south polar region is of great interest to lunar researchers and explorers because the low angle of the Sun over the horizon leads to areas of partial or even complete shadow. These shadowed areas and permanently dark crater floors, where sunlight never reaches, are believed to hide water ice and other frozen substances that could be analysed to better understand the natural processes that formed them, and used to produce resources such as oxygen and propellant in the future.

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