NEEP602 Course Notes (Fall 1996)
Resources from Space

Lecture #22: Been there! Done that! Bought the T-shirt!

Title: Lunar Base Activation


General Assumptions
Business approach to lunar base activation
      o business plan development
      o financial commitments
      o coordination with and marketing to resource users
      o detailed evaluation and characterization of the resource base
      o definition of engineering design parameters for base and mining facilities
      o mine planning
      o development of base architecture and its activation sequence
      o final definition of launch and support economics
      o commitment to detail design, manufacture, and implementation
INTERLUNE-Two-class orbital remote sensing as precursor
      o High resolution photography of all potential base regions
      o Geochemical sensing for Ti (UV) and 3He (gamma ray)
      o Radar sounding for boulder concentrations and depth of regolith
INTERLUNE-One-class surface exploration as precursor
      o Lunar base issues for remotely conducted surface exploration
      o Geotechnical data on the regolith
      o Geological and geophysical data on the regolith
      o In situ analysis of volatile concentrations in early mine tracts
      o In situ analysis of unminable regolith in three dimensions along early mine tracts
      o architectural layout of base core
        INTERLUNE-One: A Scientific Mission Across the Surface of the Moon
        Mission Management Team
        Science Payloads
       Science Payloads (in three dimensions)
Major Mission Characteristics
        Techniques for landing and Deployment
Lunar Base Design Goals
      o Indefinite support of human activities
      o Near term oxygen and hydrogen production
      o Long term 3He production
      o Long term production of basic material and food requirements
      o Scientific exploration and use of the Moon
      o Other?
Frequency of major support missions to the Moon
      o One per lunar cycle
Engineering designs
      o Finalized prior to initiation of base activation
Site of first base
      o Best location for initial 3He (H2, H2O and O2) production
Tours of duty for activation crews
      o First year: 3 lunar cycles
      o Second year: 6 lunar cycles
      o Third and subsequent years: 12 lunar cycles
      o Fifth year: option to settle
Work cycle
      o 10 hour days and six day weeks
        Summary Timeline for Activation Scenario (Schmitt, 1986)
           HM: Habitation Module
           PP: Power Plant
           IM: Mining Plant
           OP: Refining Plant
           SM: Storage Module
          OTM: Resource Transfer Module
Constraints on initial operations
Mission Rules (crew safety in early phases of activation)
      o Maintain spare ascent module on surface until
        base capable of supporting crews indefinitely
      o Maintain inventory of consumables sufficient to
        last two lunar cycles (one missed resupply)
      o Other?
Environmental Considerations (see text from Neal, et al. 1988)
      o First landing (Cycle -1): automated Habitation Module
      o Second landing (Cycle 0): three person crew lands
      o Third landing: second automated Habitation Module (Cycle 1)
      o Fourth landing: second crew lands (Cycle 2) one cycle
        before first crew rotates back to Earth
      o Fifth landing: automated Power Plant (Cycle 3)
      o Seventh landing: automated Mining Plant (Cycle 5)
      o Ninth landing: automated Refining Plant (Cycle 7)
      o Eleventh landing: automated Storage Module
        with first Volatile Transfer Module (Cycle 9)
      o First volatile shipment: Cycle 12
Crew consumables
      o Early Phases: Minimum inventory capable of supporting base
        population for two lunar cycles on full rations (one resupply missed)
      o Later Phases: Phase in lunar production until indefinite
        support possible from lunar resources
Power production
      o Early Phases: solar energy/battery/RTG and/or fuel cell based
      o Mid Phases (O2 and H2 production): solar energy/fuel cell based
      o Late Phases and Settlement: nuclear fission or
        fusion based with solar energy and fuel cells for special purposes
Crew Selection
      o Skill mix and cross-training
      o Experience
      o Physical capability
      o Medical risk analysis?
      o Psychological risk analysis?
      o Physiological and psychological tolerance to space environment? Space Station tour?
      o Other?
Risk/Productivity Management
      o No long term stand-downs in launches to Moon
      o Physician on crew anytime six or more present
      o Injury or illness treated at the base with replacement
        by extension of tour of another qualified individual
      o Crew selection
      o Fail to operate/fail to manual/fail to safe equipment design
      o Design facilities for internal diagnostics, rapid
        inspection, rapid repair, and rapid upgrade
      o Inventory all discarded or unused materials
      o Dust management emphasis
      o Solar flare risk management design and planning
      o Design space suits with 1/2 the weight, 4 times the
        hand and overall mobility, and 100 times the life of the Apollo suits
      o Design lunar surface vehicles with solar particle
        event protection and crew consumables
      o Other?
        Something better than Apollo (NASA photo)
        Deployment of Habitation Module (NASA Art)
      o Design facilities for indefinite life, including in situ
        maintenance, repair, and upgrade
      o Design facilities and equipment against dust penetration
      o Use habitat and rover design and operational procedures to
        protect against solar particle events
      o Provide live, electronic views of the base and its setting
      o Provide for recreational EVA
        Lunar recreation? (NASA art)
      o Other?
Base planning
      o The architectural layout of the base core will be final before the first landing
      o The base will be located so as to easily support initial mining and
         processing activities and to provide long term support for regional mining activities
      o Landing and launch operations will be located and designed
        so as to not disrupt other activities
      o Landers and resource transfer modules will be
        accessible to refueling and resource transfer facilities
      o Roads and walkways will be stabilized
      o Other?
Science Objectives
      o Extend scientific knowledge of the Moon, particularly
        as it relates to the Earth and the Solar System
      o Conduct astronomical sensing
      o Use the Moon-Earth system as a gravitational sensor
      o Conduct resource exploration
      o Investigate human adaptation to the lunar surface environment
        (one-sixth gravity, radiation, dust, day-night cycles,
        lack of Schumann resonance, psychological stress)
      o Until a permanent scientific staff or full automation of
        facilities is possible, science activities will be limited
      o Facilities should be immune from disturbances resulting from base and mining activities
      o Other?
        Agricultural Facility (NASA Art) What is missing?
      o High priority in order to reduce cost of base support and demonstrate self-sufficiency
      o Lighting design must protect crops from radiation while maximizing use of solar energy
      o Hydroponics versus traditional techniques must be evaluated
      o Biological waste must be recycled
      o Evaluate the need for soil/water additives over time
      o Evaluate export economics
      o Other?
      o After full adaptation to one-sixth gravity, persons
        scheduled to return to Earth's gravity will need several
        weeks of special physical exercises and physiological stress pre-conditioning.
Other Early Considerations
      o Plant Activation and Test
          - Power Plant
          - Mining Plant
          - Refining Plant
      o Storage Module Placement
      o Resource Transport Module Placement
Integrated Operations
      o May require split shifts two person teams
      o Technical and Operational Management: Lunar Base managers
      o Logistic Coordination: Lunar Base and Earth based managers
      o Overall Management: Earth-based until full logistics
        self-sufficiency exists at the lunar base
Issues for trade-off studies and modeling to select best 
technical approach to mining (i.e., rectilinear vs. spiral):
      o logistical support costs
      o estimated cost/tonne comparing apples with apples
      o percentage minable left unmined vs. marginal costs to mine
      o Other?
       Wisconsin Mark II miner concept
Requirements for conducting day to day mining operations
      o logistical support
      o systems monitoring
      o teleoperations
      o maintenance
      o balance between extraction and refining and
Issues for day to day mining operations (see text in Lecture 19 from Neal, et al., 1988)


1. Sketch and annotate a possible architectural layout for a lunar base supporting both spiral 3He mining and a science station.

2. Discuss the trade-off issues to be considered in selecting spiral mining versus rectilinear mining (see Lecture #19 as well).

3. Discuss how to provide solar particle event protection to a two person lunar exploration expedition traveling with an Apollo-like lunar rover. Assume 30 minutes notice before arrival of intense particle flux.


Schmitt, 1992, pages 667-671

Neal., et al., 1988, pages 38-46


Mendell, W.W., 1985, editor, The First Conference on Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century, Chapter 6, Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston.

Mendell, W.W., 1992, editor, The Second Conference on Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century, Chapters 2,3,6, and 7, NASA Conference Publication 3166, 667-672.

Neal., V., et al., 1988, Extravehicular Activity at a Lunar Base, Report on Advanced Extravehicular Activity Systems Requirements Definition Study, NASA-17779.

Schmitt, H.H., 1986, Lunar base network activation scenario, in Final Report: Lunar Power Systems, P 2-1 to 1-43, NASA-JSC Contract NAS9-17359.

Schmitt, H.H., 1992, The real world and Lunar base activation scenarios, in The Second Conference on Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century, edited by W.W. Mendell, NASA Conference Publication 3166, 667-672.

Back to Syllabus

University of Wisconsin logo

University of Wisconsin Fusion Technology Institute  · 439 Engineering Research Building  · 1500 Engineering Drive  · Madison WI 53706-1609  · Telephone: (608) 263-2352  · Fax: (608) 263-4499  · Email:

Copyright © 2003 The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System. For feedback or accessibility issues, contact
This page last updated August 21, 2003.