What if a group of nations was determined to colonize the Moon, and they based their decisions only on technical and economic merit?

All blog posts linked below:

  • Great Big Timeline

    Our new timeline maps out a vast set of complex, interconnecting plans leading to a solar system with major colonies on four worlds. When the timeline ends, there are thousands of ships trading megatons of goods from Mercury to Titan. It costs about as much to go to the Moon as it costs to fly half-way around the world today. Cities are being built at a high clip across the face of the Moon by robot crews that are only lightly overseen by a small number of people. We’ve launched small probes to other stars. There are satellites around every significant celestial body in the solar system, and rovers on all such bodies with a solid surface. Political and economic power has shifted dramatically into space. Our sense of who we are has changed forever.

  • The Mother Ship

    True space settlement depends on being able to have children out there, including pregnancy, childbirth, and the whole process of raising a happy, healthy child. We know very, very little about what it takes to do this in the harsh environment of space. What we do know suggests that the radiation protection and gravity required is far higher than for an adult. As a mental exercise, let us tackle a chunk of this question. Here follows a sketch of the mother ship - a ship compliant with conservative estimates of the protection needed to safely transport an expectant mother from the Moon to Earth.

  • Thinking About Thinking About Space

    The Starship Congress last week was full of expansive ideas of brave new worlds and the odysseys to reach them. I have a new theory that if you pack enough space geeks close enough together they will start to spontaneously levitate. I’m in the thick of this community, but i gotta say - wow, we really need to get more grounded.

  • Reworked Power Plant

    Six weeks ago i posted about a new draft of the solar thermal power plant designed for Cernan’s Promise. Oh how it has changed since then. The process of improving that model has been an important test case of how to elicit input on a design, and work through improving it, with online collaborators. Once again, it was done mostly by consultation in our chat room on space.stackexchange. The conversation there goes on for pages and pages, supplemented by sketches and links.

  • Flee-osophy

    There is a strong tinge of escapism among space fans. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, escapism gets a bad wrap. It just has to be used with care. I think it’s good for people to remember that things could be way, way better than they are. A vision of something that would be wonderful but can only be achieved with great effort can actually bring people together and focus them on making that effort. The problems begin with the false promises and hand-waving. If your head is out there, but your heart isn’t rooted down here, you’re in for trouble.

  • Drafting Ideas

    We were chatting over the last week about the thermal energy storage system we have drafted right now for the colony, which is a bit like some solar thermal power plants here on Earth. (I always sort of enjoy it when i have a legitimate reason to specify that i’m...

  • On Glass Bubbles and Being Grounded

    I couldn’t get along without windows. I don’t care how big the cave is, how realistic display screens are at projecting pleasant outdoor scenes (holographic? well, that would help, but still), or how much time i spend outside (and i don’t think it would be more than 10 or 15...

  • Timeline to the Space Boom

    The timeline for the virtual colonies, it turns out, is not the digestible list of bullet points i thought it would be when i started on it a couple of weeks ago. It is 130,000 words, and i stopped myself before it sucked me in completely. It maps out how...

  • Ice Mines Don't Sell

    Kapitalist asked if Moonwards could also work on a plan that could happen in the world we know in a comment on the previous post. That was like pressing a big red button in the middle of my forehead, so i am responding here. If we only think about what...

  • Colony Expansion

    Sketching things rapidly is really helpful for discussion. In the last 3 weeks i’ve sketched all the main installations of the colony in order to create an overview, and a framework that can be the basis for improvement. There are still a number of undocumented things, nonetheless there is so...

  • Walking on the Moon

    I have spent a lot of time in and around Lalande Crater on the various maps of the Moon. I have my favorite spots. I’ve developed an inordinate fondness for it as clearly one of the handsomest craters. I have burning questions about what is really there. So, when i...

  • The Transport Tipping Point

    Giant rockets and giant rocket explosions have been all the buzz for the last few weeks. It has gotten me thinking how little conversation there really is about the future being pursued here. There is lots of analysis of the market and the technology, but not of where we are...

  • Nice Even Temperatures Through the Magic of Thermal Mass

    An entry came in on the website forum about the extreme temperature swings between day and night on the Moon, and the difficulty of keeping temperatures even because of this. The poster, Sam D, mentioned in another post how lava tubes help with this, and that is indeed one reason...

  • The Pyramid Paradigm

    Long, long ago, all of the very first nations on the face of the Earth made really big things. They made the very biggest things they could figure out how to. For a long time they raised huge stones over tombs or temples. Then they took to building a...

  • All the Reasons Why

    Moonwards is a bit of a different approach to promoting space. It seems time to properly summarize that. I’m on The Space Show next Sunday, Sept. 11th, and i need to organize my thoughts. It hasn’t seemed useful (up to now) to contrast it with various other projects out there,...

  • Transportation that Builds Momentum

    There is no way around it. The different resources of the Moon are in different places, and they don’t seem to be close together. Mapping of resources is really patchy, low-resolution, and incomplete, so maybe there is a sweet spot that helps with this we have only to discover. Probably...

  • Health Tips on the Moon - Part 3

    It is time to speak of radiation on the Moon. First i am going to explain it a bit, and point out things a lot of people don’t know. One, we can only make decent guesses how much radiation there is on the Moon. Two, we don’t know what it...

  • Health tips on the Moon - Part 2

    Before i do anything else i am going to deliberately refer you away from this blog, to the wonderful Lunar Swimming entry on Randall Munroe’s What If blog, and please note that i asked that question. Please return for further discussion of the proposition. All done? Okay, hopefully you...

  • Health tips on the Moon - Part 1

    I’ve been mulling how to address effective exercise on the Moon to address a host of health problems that come with low gravity. The main issues are loss of muscle and bone mass, and problems associated with redistribution of fluids, in particular how this can degrade eyesight. Also with...

  • Getting in Virtual Shape

    This may not shock anybody, but building an entire virtual Moon colony is a really big job with many challenges. Trying to become more methodical and organized about it has led to a lull in visible output right now. It has also made the stack of tasks on my desktop...

  • Walking Rovers on the Moon

    Moon dust is super nasty. It is composed of particles of shrapnel, essentially, created during meteor strikes. The only bits that aren’t all sharp edges are the blobs of glass from the portion that was thrown up as lava. You want to stay away from it as much as possible....

  • The Sunken Hall (Extensive Edit)

    (Originally posted on site forum April 2nd, 2016.) New and improved! All the external main stuff looked at. Here are a bunch of images of this key ingredient to the colony concept, an excavated space reinforced with fused basalt material and turned into a nice, bright, quite large habitation space....

  • The Space Show on Conquering the World

    (Originally posted on site forum June 6th, 2016.) Here is a link to Friday’s episode of The Space Show, where i talked about how the Moon could conquer Earth, and in general about how military acts in space can be extremely effective and hard to prevent. It is a...

  • The Polar Ice Shuttle

    (Originally posted on site forum Mar 19th, 2016.) by Sigvart Brendberg: The location of the Cernan’s Promise lunar base has several important benefits, however, access to lunar volatiles is unfortunately not one of them. Therefore, there is a need for transporting ice from the poles to the equator. Currently, the...

  • Hybrid Ice Shuttles

    (Originally posted on site forum April 22nd, 2016.) by Sigvart Brendberg: A nuclear shuttle for transportation of ice from the pole to an equatorial base is limited by the thrust of its engine. That mass must accommodate the mass of the engine and all the other dry mass, and...

  • Leap day for celebrating leaps!

    (Originally posted on site forum Mar 1st, 2016.) Well, now that the Space Show interview is done, time to tear apart the Planning page and redo it as something more focused and useful. I’m deciding how to do that now and it will take some Javascript, so it won’t be...

  • Let us get a Lunavator thread

    (Originally posted on site forum Feb 28th, 2016.) by Sigvart Brendberg:  Lunavators is an approaching topic, so I just threw up the basics here if anyone is interested A major concern in space travel is not distances, but change in velocity, commonly called delta v. A spacecraft is limited...

  • Long range plans of all sorts

    (Originally posted on site forum Feb 28th, 2016.) I added lots of stuff to the mission timelines over the last few days, and today tossed in a bouquet of ideas of many sorts. I am on the Space Show on Monday afternoon (2pm PST, 5pm EST, 10pm GST), and...

  • Heat Islands

    (Note: the following is one of various posts that were copied here from the Moonwards.com forum for the sake of preserving the early days of the project. It was originally posted there on Feb 11th, 2016.) I suffer from a severe rabbit-in-headlights reaction when i open the

  • Far out proposal

    (Note: the following is one of various posts that were copied here from the Moonwards.com forum for the sake of preserving the early days of the project. It was originally posted there on Feb 9th, 2016.) From Sigvart Brendberg:Two layers of reflective aluminium foil around...

  • Lighting a Garden

    (Edited series of posts from the site forum originally posted there between Feb 5th and March 10th, 2016.) So i was looking into the power needs to light a garden through the night enough to keep the plants healthy. And i went to the NASA Technical Reports Server looking for...

  • Good links and resources

    (Note: the following is one of various posts that were copied here from the Moonwards.com forum for the sake of preserving the early days of the project. It was originally posted there on Feb 3rd, 2016.) I am finally going to list a few of the things i’ve...

  • Energy storage as heat

    (Originally posted on site forum, Feb 2nd, 2016.) There are 2 new images today on the main page. The solar furnace has been updated to something i am finally happy with, at least at this stage of concept development. The dome has been completely chucked out in favor of an...

  • Got my fresnel lenses, let the melting begin!

    (Note: the following is one of various posts that were copied here from the Moonwards.com forum for the sake of preserving the early days of the project. It was originally posted there on Jan 27th, 2016.) First, 21 x 36 inch fresnel lenses are a lot of...

  • Lalande topographical map with LOLA data

    (Note: the following is one of various posts that were copied here from the Moonwards.com forum for the sake of preserving the early days of the project. It was originally posted there on Dec 14th, 2015.) Prof. Brian Lynch of Queens University was kind enough to render...

  • Because the surest method of growing up is having no choice

    (Originally posted on site forum Dec 13th, 2015.) Let’s say you have enough infrastructure on the Moon to fabricate really good mirrors, small motors, and pivoting joints in bulk. And you make 10 km2 of mirrors and set them up outside so you can very accurately point them. That’s 12...

  • Getting to why

    (Note: the following is one of various posts that were copied here from the Moonwards.com forum for the sake of preserving the early days of the project. It was originally posted there on Nov 7thth, 2015.) I redid a few things around the website over the last...

  • Big picture?

    (Note: the following is one of various posts that were copied here from the Moonwards.com forum for the sake of preserving the early days of the project. It was originally posted there on Oct 27th, 2015. The first part was a post by Joe Strout, of the High Frontier...

  • Melt-in-place fabrication

    (Originally posted on site forum, Nov 6th, 2015) Here’s a deceptively simple model of Fresnel lenses focusing bands of sunlight on regolith fines that have been delivered and smoothed level by the crane. It’s deceptive for several reasons. For instance, for me, it didn’t feel simple deciding if the crane...

  • Components of Phase 1 VMC - Dome Builder, new and improved

    (Originally posted on site forum Oct 9th, 2015) The thing about building a dome out of a spiraling trough of fabric filled with tamped regolith is that the width of each level has to change, as does the radius of the open span. The Tube Filler i posted before might...

  • Components of Phase 1 VMC - Mark III Lava Makers

    (Originally posted on site forum Oct 6th, 2015) I made a new lava maker after being concerned about the weaknesses of the parabolic bowl mirror i posted yesterday. This one is a bit less complete, i keep trying to tell myself i need to hurry now and leave details for...

  • Components of Phase 1 VMC - The Lava Maker

    (Originally posted on site forum Oct 5th, 2015) So here we have a convex parabolic mirror focusing light on a secondary concave parabolic mirror, which passes it to a third mirror as one semi-coherent beam, and that mirror sends it to the big crucible filled with...

  • Components of Phase 1 VMC - Dome under construction

    (Originally posted on site forum Oct 5th, 2015) These posts are rough drafts of what will go on the main page this week. It is crunch time now for the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group annual meeting, that i leave to attend in 2 weeks. I’ve been making models for the...

  • Why this isn't being placed at the poles

    (Originally posted on site forum Nov 7thth, 2015.) The Lunar poles are all the rage, especially the South Pole and Aitken Basin. There is now good evidence that there is a lot of water ice trapped in permanent darkness there. That ice also contains carbon monoxide and nitrogen....

  • Radiation and windows - a cosmic ray blind design

    (Originally posted on site forum Feb 13th, 2016.) First, i want to emphasize that how much radiation one would actually get on the surface of the Moon is UNKNOWN. I’ve scrounged for figures repeatedly on this, and went with numbers for initial designs that numbers from new sources make sound...

  • Pull it together now

    (Originally posted on site forum, Oct 13th, 2015) Ok. Must stop playing with digital models. No more time. The VMC layout i have looks kinda naked to me, compared to what is in my head. But the deadline looms. > ...

  • Nuclear Power

    (Originally posted on site forum Dec 11th, 2015.) Here i had figured nuclear plants of sufficient size didn’t exist and might not for a long time because people are so nervous about nukes. And then i heard about the SAFE reactor today. There is a working prototype....

  • No, wait... let's change the whole dome

    (Originally posted on site forum Jan 7th, 2016.) I was talking to Doug Plata of LunarCOTS the other day, and he pointed out how big a dome made of an inflatable membrane with regolith piled over it could be, for a small payload mass. Well, true. This has motivated me...

  • New Stuff Happens

    (Note: the following is one of various posts that were copied here from the Moonwards.com forum for the sake of preserving the early days of the project. It was originally posted there on Dec 8th, 2015.) I have really revamped the main page of Moonwards over the...

  • Moving day

    (Originally posted on site forum, Feb 10th, 2016.) After much contemplation, Cernan’s Promise will be moved today to a spot half a kilometer north of its current location. Several changes in approach go with this move. Turns out planning an entire Moon colony, even just for education and inspiration, has...

  • The Garden Space with Sky Views - Yes we can :)

    (Originally posted on site forum Feb 16th, 2016.) Okay, finally we have a reasonable design for a sunny space that uses spaced beams that are quite tall to limit radiation exposure to a livable amount even if you are hanging out there up to half the time.

Realistic Lunar Colony, Coming Online

This project is building a series of virtual colonies on the Moon and in the Earth-Moon system. We are building rich immersive environments that are entirely plausible, technically and scientifically. In them we'll examine all the questions, consider all the implications of space settlement. When humanity undertakes ventures on such a vast scale, it matters a great deal how many people have given it real thought beforehand. These colonies serve that purpose.

The core colony, Cernan's Promise, shows a full town with a population of 25,000. It has developed industries and facilities, spacious beautiful architecture, and transport systems moving high volumes of people and cargo around the Moon and the solar system. It shows what happens just beyond the tipping point, when technology enables a space boom. To evaluate the importance of space exploration, this is the stage the public needs to understand.

The next two colonies work outwards from there... forwards to the city that grows from the town, when technology allows a segmented glass dome to be placed over a crater 23 km across, becoming home to a million people... and backwards to the first missions that develop the basic techniques and infrastructure that make it all possible.

These environments are places to explore, create, collaborate, tell stories, play, and above all to learn and to contemplate our future. To that end, the project assumes an ideal political environment, in which a broad alliance of countries pursues lunar settlement with determination and vision, making the best technical decisions and investing as much as it takes to do it properly. In this way the project can educate regarding the real gamut of options before us, and the complete scope of such a vast endeavor.

Moonwards will always be open source, free of copyright, and free of charge to the public. In this way, as long as it has a strong core framework, it has incredible potential for growth. Some virtual world project along these lines is going to explode in the near future. The time is right. Once a world is vivid enough, and provides the right tools, it will mushroom as talented people see the potential and dive in. Never before has there existed a way for so very many people to collaborate so powerfully. Moonwards can reach towards two final frontiers - the one above our heads, and the one inside our heads. Let us see how powerful vision can be.

All the project's files are on the GitHub repository of Moonwards. It is at an early stage. It will always be 'under construction', though - that's its nature. You will see this website filling out and then get new content regularly as the project advances. You will see the models changing and new models being added, animated, and supplemented with other media. When the first, simple version of the virtual colony comes online, then we are really rolling. If you are inclined to take part, please use the contact options shown on the Project page, or email me.

These videos show the model of Cernan's Promise as of August 2017. Work begins on updating them tomorrow, Nov 25 2017. The last video is of the model of Lalande Crater, which is highly detailed and accurate. It too will be revamped in the next 3 months.