An Outline of Our Space History

Human civilization now encompasses the inner Solar System and this outward de­velopment from Earth has resulted in advances for humanity that could not have been predicted at the onset. We generally think linearly – we are best at extrapolat­ing our current experiences and usually miss paradigm shifts due to unanticipated discoveries. In the year 1807, very few people anticipated the Wright Brothers’

Yerah Timoshenko is a pseudonym for Haym Benaroya.

human flight a hundred years later. In 1869, only science fiction writers envisioned landing people on the Moon. Similarly, other great discoveries in physics, mechan­ics and electronics were not predicted and therefore the technologies to which those discoveries gave birth could not have been foreseen except perhaps by a tiny group of exceptional visionaries.

It took us longer to break our Earthly bonds than those who lived during the Apollo era had wished. While many who witnessed man’s first steps on the Moon did not see the many achievements of the 21st and 22nd centuries, they understood the inevitability of what exists today in 2169 and had such keen imaginations that their minds’ eyes fully saw how a spacefaring mankind would evolve. An example of the optimism coupled with the vision of the early 1960s was the Army Corps of Engineers study of the kinds of facilities that it would need to be able to build on the Moon for the coming human settlements. During the decade between the late 1980s to the mid 1990s, such studies had intensified both within NASA and out­side the Government in industry and academe. Numerous of these studies dis­cussed science on the Moon, the economics of lunar development, and the chal­lenges for human physiology and psychology in space and on planetary bodies. An equally large literature on policy – economic and legal – developed the framework for our evolvement into a spacefaring species. All these disciplines and others related to the survival of living in space and low gravity were needed to plant humans on the Moon – and beyond – in a sustainable and viable way.

By the mid 1990s the political climate turned against a permanent return to the Moon and began to look at Mars as the “appropriate” destination, essentially skip­ping the Moon. The debate between “Moon First” and “Mars Direct” faded as it became clear that we did not have the technology and experience to send people to Mars for an extended stay until after we perfected our abilities to live outside the Earth cocoon. Physiological and reliability issues were unresolved for a trip to Mars. We are grappling with many of the same issues today.

Post-Apollo, many reasons were given why humanity needed a lunar base: lu­nar science and astronomy would benefit from the isolated and vacuum lunar envi­ronment. Space technology would be stimulated and much of that would have dual-use applications. The Moon would be an excellent test bed for the technolo­gies required to place humans on Mars and beyond. Recovery of plentiful lunar re­sources would become economically viable once a basic infrastructure existed. Space could not be underestimated as a motivator for young people to study science and engineering. And there was growing concern that humanity needed an insurance policy against the possibility that life on Earth could be wiped out by a single collision with a relatively small asteroid. Settling the Moon and later Mars was starting to be viewed as the beginning of a long-range program to ensure the survival of the species. Of course, all these reasons were valid then and are in play now as humanity has found homes on multiple bodies in the Solar System.

While two hundred years is a long time against the scale of human life expec­tancy, it is a short time in the evolution of humanity. That it has taken us two hun­dred years to evolve from an Earth-based species to one that has hundreds of thou­sands living permanently in the inner Solar System is really remarkable since this is not a long time. The extreme environment on the Moon is very challenging to
our engineers. Missteps can be fatal – we are on an unforgiving planet. There were many difficulties that had to be overcome so that we could achieve these ends. But the primary one was the economics of spaceflight. It was just too expensive to lift mass from the surface of the Earth into low-Earth orbit. Given the costs associated with spaceflight, the returns on investment demanded by private corporations as well as the taxpayers were difficult to overcome. Even with the benefits of dual­use technology, it was difficult to close the loop.

Figure 30.1 is of the historic document created by the US Army Corps of Engi­neering during the time of Apollo. At that time it seemed obvious that Apollo would lead to permanent settlements on the Moon. Then who else but the Army Corps of Engineers to build those facilities on the Moon? Even though Apollo was a geopolitical decision by the Kennedy Administration in response to the Soviet Union’s surprise foray into space, many believed that success would lead to deci­sions to take advantage of the new capabilities and to then settle permanently on the Moon. Had that been done, we would likely be one hundred years ahead of our present capabilities.

Подпись: Fig. 30.1 Cover of NASA’s Office of Manned Space Flight Lunar Construction, prepared by the Office of the Chief of Engineers, Department of the Army, April 1963. (Courtesy Al Smith and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)

A number of important issues had to be addressed and at least partially resolved as we evolved into a spacefaring civilization. Our colonies on the Moon had two general purposes: to learn how to survive on a non-terrestrial body that is naturally hostile to human life, and to begin to explore and use the resources of the Moon for human purposes. The second purpose led to mining and materials-processing operations, the synthesis of fuels from mined lunar hydrogen and oxygen and the

development of industries that could benefit from the one-sixth Earth gravitational field and the hard vacuum. In-situ resource utilization was our lifeblood. We could have never survived without the ability of to mine and recover resources on the Moon and Mars and then be able to process those local resources into most of what we need to survive – from oxygen to building materials.

Figure 30.2 is an illustration of one of our earliest outposts on the Moon. Con­structed from igloo-like modules that could house six people, it was possible to expand these facilities so that hundreds could be accommodated (Ruess et al. 2004).

Eventually structures and most facilities became subterranean because the sur­face is so toxic to living entities. With surface temperatures ranging between -153 °C to 107 °С, galactic and solar radiation, and regular micrometeorite impacts, ear­ly settlements seriously challenged our engineering skills. As soon as the infra­structure developed serious construction capabilities, we began digging our settlements to the point where they house thousands of people well beneath the surface. An example of such a facility is shown in Figure 30.3.


Fig. 30.2 The look of the igloo base on the Moon. From the scale of the figure, we can see that the shielding is not purely 3 m of regolith. This is a more advanced shielding material that is blended with the regolith. (Illustration by Andre Malok, by permission c 2007 The Newark Star-Ledger)

Our self-sufficient large lunar cities survive economically by exporting lunar minerals and finished products to Earth, and by servicing transportation, both commercial and military, between Earth and the emerging settlements on Mars, its moons, as well as early mining activity on the asteroids and the moons of the gas giants of the outer solar system. A variety of private and public-private partner­ships created settlements with specifically economic purposes. Lunar development organizations of various pedigrees were created. Our present-day lunar ecosystem is a very complicated one. It includes plants that are able to grow in regolith with the aid of certain bacteria and minute amounts of water.

An Outline of Our Space History Подпись: ТРАНСПОРТНАЯ МАГИСТРАЛЬ



Fig. 30.3 Manned Base in Lava Tube. Energia-Sternberg Project. Side Views. The base is mostly within the lava tubes for shielding. In the top figure: on the left side are general pur­pose premises; the lower left are residential facilities; on the right side is the scientific zone and a transport line. In the bottom figure: in the lower left is a general conference hall, and in the lower right side are a rehabilitation center and the largest cupola-shaped premises on the base. (Courtesy Vladislav Shevchenko)

Along the way we had to address additional issues. These included the desire to avoid pollution and the rights of ownership. At some point a consensus evolved to ensure that the Moon, in particular, and the planets, in general, survived with inte­grity after colonies and industrial facilities began to be planted there. The Moon was our test – did we learn from the mistakes on Earth? One advantage of the long times it took us to return to the Moon was that it gave us a lot of time to think about how we would treat the Moon. For example, we realized that we did not want to strip mine the Moon for resources.

Therefore, the rare mining operation that erased the topology of the surface as it exhumed valuable ore was quickly viewed as an unacceptable form of mining to the population that now calls the Moon home. Many are eager to protect the stark beauty of this and all the new worlds we call home. We also believe that in the long-term such careful oversight of the Moon is economically advantageous. Working for short-term profits with long-term damage is viewed as an ineffective way to develop the Moon. What deserves saving on the Moon? Most agree that the Apollo sites and surrounding areas were worth preserving. A radius of no con­tact was established where no person and no vehicle could approach, not even overhead since rockets can destroy the footprints and locations of items on the sur­face (Hargrove 2008).

“The place where the two astronauts landed, resided and worked – a roughly 60 m2 area named ‘Tranquility Base’ – is a unique Solar System physical location. Tranquility Base, and what was left behind there when the astronauts departed, should be preserved and pro­tected for all, for all time (Chaikin 1998).”

It was also suggested that the UN declare the site a World Heritage Site (Rogers 2004). But there was little public support for the UN in the U. S. – the United States viewed Tranquility Base as historic for the world but still felt it to be a distinctive American accomplishment before the era of multinational space efforts.

“The Apollo programme truly widened the horizons of humanity at large. The image of an Earthrise over the lunar surface, taken by Apollo 8, brought home in a very visual way the relative position of Earth and demonstrated the fragility of our planet, ‘space ship Earth’. It soon became a symbol for the environmental movement. The ‘blue marble’ pho­tograph of a complete and only slightly cloud-covered Earth taken during Apollo 17 has become the icon of Earth in space. People were fascinated by these missions… about a quarter of the human population at the time watched the live television broadcast as Neil Armstrong stepped onto the lunar surface (Spennemann 2004).”

To this day we support the value of the Apollo sites and have placed hemis­pherical glass domes over all of them. As “traffic” on the lunar surface grew, dis­turbed electrostatically suspended regolith began to migrate long distances, thus not only affecting all surface operations but also threatening historical sites. We have also protected the landing sites of the early probes on the Moon and on Mars.

There are sites on the Moon, Mars and some of the other bodies that have been viewed as worth preserving for their own sake. such objects, like works of art, have intrinsic value. The intrinsic value may be for scientific reasons or for aes­thetic reasons. On the Moon, the harsh environment makes it difficult to erase mistakes, and there are no minor mistakes.

We have had several generations born on the Moon. While our physiology has changed infinitesimally our psychology is wholly lunar. We are seeing the evolu­tion of mixed loyalties amongst Lunarians. While we retain a kind attitude to the planet of our great grandparents, our hearts and minds naturally have different perspectives on how our mother planet, the Moon, should be developed and evolve. My two children were born on the Moon.

Table 30.1 is taken from the book Turning Dust to Gold by Haym Benaroya. It is a chronology of milestones in humanity’s evolution into a spacefaring species. The book is written as though a history book in the year 2169, the 200th anniver­sary of when Americans first stepped on the Moon with Apollo 11. Yerah Timo­shenko (YT) is a fictional character in the book that occasionally leads the reader in reviewing aspects of this speculative but possible history.

Similarly, settlers and natives on Mars and the outer Solar System have their own views on development. What may have once been viewed as property of Earth-based interests, the lunar settlements have become entities in their own right, much like children who grow up to become individuals, unique and independent. In the same way that the Americas became independent of the moth­er countries, and properties developed by trading companies evolved into autonomous entities, cities on the Moon and Mars will demand independence from Earth in the not-too-distant future. At best, a confederation of equals may evolve between Earth and its former colonies.

Table 30.1 Chronology of milestones in humanity’s evolution

1969 First men on the Moon

2009 Chandarayaan-1/Moon Mineralogy Mapper reveals H20 molecules

2014 Space tourism reaches $1B threshold

2024 Humans return to Moon

2029 Permanent colony

2034 Humans land on Mars

2041 Permanent Mars colony

2046 Space elevator prototype construction begins over Earth

2049 Lunar space elevator construction begins

2059 Yerah Timoshenko’s (YT) great-grandparents go to Moon

2060-61 YT’s grandparents born on Earth (conceived on Moon)

2070 Fusion reactors go online on Moon, a year later on Mars

2084 First families on Moon

2089-90 YT’s parents born on Earth

2094 First lunar Olympics

2099 First human birth on Moon

2115 YT’s parents move to Moon

2119 YT born on Moon

2142-43 YT’s boy and girl born on Moon

2169 The present – 200th anniversary of the first men on the Moon

Now Terraforming of Mars

2179 150th anniversary of off-Earth permanent habitation

The historical summary provided by the table lists the key successes of a space- faring humanity during the past two hundred years. Space elevators were devel­oped and became key components of our space civilization. As construction of the space elevators took place in orbit around the Earth (and Moon and Mars) a major infrastructure in orbit around these planetary bodies was erected. Once the space elevators became operational the pace of space development increased exponen­tially due to the drop in costs by several orders of magnitude.

While solar power is a key resource on the Moon, it is less so on Mars and the outer moons. Fusion-based power is well developed and supplements solar and nuclear power throughout the colonies.

All manner of human activity takes place on the Moon – witness the first Lunar Olympics of 2094. In that first such lunar competition, many hundreds of lunar in­habitants witnessed three-dimensional football, low-gravity swim competitions, and thirty meter pole vaulting. Hundreds of people from Earth visited the Moon for the games. Tourism significantly adds to the lunar economy, less so to that of Mars due to the added transit time – one way travel to the Moon takes about twelve hours, but between two and three weeks are needed to reach Mars depend­ing on the time of year. Also noted is the ongoing terraforming activity on Mars the extent of which it is to be allowed is still being seriously debated.

The survival of living things in space and on extraterrestrial bodies was and is the key challenge to a spacefaring humanity. The first priority is of course living; the next priority is living with sufficient food and comfort, and the next priority is to live and enjoy life. The Apollo program, and Mercury and Gemini that pre­ceded it, focused on the first priority. When Skylab, Mir and the ISS were built, there was more room. Astronauts could move around – they even had a bit of privacy.

These and more recent space stations became our nodes for material transport, for docking of transport ships that ferried people and goods between Mars, the Moon and Earth. The United States and The Russians were the backbone of manned space exploration and settlement in the 21st century, with the Chinese, In­dians, Japanese and Europeans quickly evolving as equal partners in the space adventure. Many nations participated during the 21st and 22nd centuries in the de­velopment of the myriad of skills and technologies needed to settle space. By the early 22nd century, the distinctions were no longer by nationality, but rather by planetary body!

Was it comfortable? I would have been claustrophobic. The design of the chairs and the human/machine interfaces began to look beyond survival and into ease of use. Concepts for space stations and lunar settlements eventually took into account the appearance of the interior – what colors are stress reducers and make people at ease. With each new adventure, and each new generation of that adventure, de­signs added comfort and took into account the full human being. Layout design facilitated ease of human motility. There were significant efforts given to improv­ing the social and organizational aspects of life in the settlements. Social and psychological issues – effects of stress, recreation and exercise, interpersonal dy­namics in space, personal space, privacy, crowding, and territoriality – all began to be addressed.

Human physiology took the front row since being alive is a prerequisite for comfort and happiness. But human psychology was close behind. Just being alive was not enough. Once space travelers included people from throughout all of so­ciety’s strata, not just engineers and scientists with years of training, the whole picture of human survival began to be considered. After all, space tourism had to be an enjoyable adventure, not just an exciting one.

Human physiological and psychological issues have been partially resolved but there exist lingering effects on humans who spend their whole lives on planetary bodies other than Earth. We have had to thrive in low gravity and within still very close quarters. This proved difficult for all of us and for some it proved insur­mountable. Eventually, larger facilities were built on the Moon so that personal space became possible – but the space is still a far cry from that available on Earth. And then people began to settle Mars where distance from Earth and the Sun introduced new and profound psychological challenges. The Sun viewed form the surface of Mars is essentially just another star in the sky, unlike the view from the lunar surface where solar power is a major part of the energy and psychologi­cal equation. Mars feels much more isolated than the Moon – because it is!

A number of technologies have evolved significantly since the return to the Moon in 2024:

ISRU – in-situ resource utilization, the way by which we live off the land, op­erates continuously and is almost completely automated using a suite of robotic technologies. Every planetary body of interest to humanity is being developed for habitation autonomously by robotic ISRU-construction teams. Settlements are erected to welcome arriving astronaut pioneers who make the final installations. Robotic miners bring us our raw material needs. More of our systems have self­repairing capabilities.

The majority of our cities are underground where natural protection exists for the living and the inanimate from space’s vacuum, radiation, micrometeorites, temperature extremes and severe gradients.

Space elevators eventually dropped by two orders of magnitude the cost of launching mass into orbit and then transporting it between points. These exist wherever there are a sizable number of settlers.

We have finally closed the loop on nuclear fusion power and have access to enormous quantities of Helium-3 fuel.

While our habitats are increasingly below ground, thus protecting us from radi­ation and micrometeorite impacts, we do spend time on the surface. Advances in gene therapy have helped shield us from radiation damage. The effects of low gravity have also been significant and gene therapy has helped in that regard as well. There is promising research on artificial gravity.

Currently the Moon has eleven cities with a total population of about 250,000 people, and Mars has four settlements with a total population of about 25,000 people. There are another 25,000 thousand people spread over our outposts on do­zens of planetary bodies and asteroids throughout the Solar System.

30.2 Conclusion

I would like to end this brief essay on our spacefaring history by quoting the first man on the Moon – Neil Armstrong – from his interview in Turning Dust to Gold who responded to the following question as quoted here:

How do we answer critics who say that space is too expensive and that there are numer­ous problems on Earth to take care of first?

Space exploration is expensive. Not nearly as expensive as many of our gov­ernment enterprises: Defense is 30 times more expensive, Intelligence is 3 times more expensive, Health and Human Services is 38 times more expensive. NASA requires less than 1% of the U. S. national budget. NASA’s responsibility is to de­velop options for future generations. If they do it properly, our grandchildren and great-grandchildren will benefit in many ways and it will have proven to be a very excellent investment.

[1] Spectral measurements near 3 pm of the irradiated silicates. For reflectance measurements, fine powders should be irradiated to fluences up to 5×1017 cm-2 many times, each time after mixing of the sample, exposing fresh surface.

These experiments may be carried out on polycrystal, but its grain size should be very small (<50 pm)

[2] To provide more confident interpretation of the radar brightness of cold surfaces, measurements of dielectric losses at temperatures of 40 to 400 K and Arecibo and Goldstone microwave frequencies (wavelength 12.6 and

[3] – C

[4] The beacons transmit their signal to the satellites.

[5] The satellites receive the signal from the beacons, and performing Doppler measures they are able to determine their position and orbit.

Updated: September 24, 2015 — 6:04 am