Timeline to a Lunar Society

What matters is understanding what needs to happen, and what can happen. Then if people feel it is a goal worth pursuing, it happens. This page explains the best conceivable path if that will is there and pushes aside conflict politics. In that situation, from when the first mission launches, it would take about 50 years to get to the part called The Space Boom.

The path uses known technology, a reasonable pace of development, and a small assumption that artificial intelligence develops at a pace actually rather slower than it has in the last 5 years. If we knew what amazing things we could achieve if only we worked together, perhaps we’d find the will to do so. What follows shows a world like that.

Transport Systems

The key to success

Europeans colonized the world thanks to their great sailing ships. Railroads were vital to expansion across the North American continent. Almost any level of investment is justified if it secures you access long-term to a large enough place. When that new place is the rest of the solar system? Bet the bank on it. The difference between reliance on chemical rockets and reliance on the system below is like the difference between wagon trains and steam locomotives. Railroads completely changed what was possible. What follows is the same thing.

The cost of transport is currently a high percentage of the total cost of space missions. Total loss of missions due to launch failure, engine failure in space, or landing failure is 5% to 10% of everything launched. Long delays due to the time it takes to prepare and launch rockets slows everything down. Any serious undertaking in space needs to address these issues before it does anything else. The road to profitability can be made much shorter with a proper transport system design.

Colony Development

Go big, go robotic

Our position is it doesn't make sense to undertake construction or any industrial process on the Moon unless it can be done by robots that are operated remotely, or that operate themselves. It will be difficult to get this right at first, but once achieved then the slow, grinding, linear growth of projects in space up to now - is gone. In its place is a growth curve steeper than anything we have ever known. So to contemplate the workings of such a system, you might as well model it on the Moon, where there are no immediate and rather alarming questions about the resulting unemployment, or environmental impact, or power shifts, or anything like that. The reason this timeline forecasts such dramatic growth is because the robots make a world of difference. Advances along these lines have been impressive recently. This is a future we have to expect.

Also, once a base is being built of lunar materials, it should be as big as possible. Most things should be made as large as they reasonably can be, until transport between Earth and the Moon has become routine and the colonies are very well established. Redundancy and extra capacity tend to come in handy at an outpost. The kind of businesses the colony will pursue first also tend to benefit from economies of scale - real estate, heavy machinery manufacture, facilities for tourism, sports, and broadcasting.

Socio-Economic Development

A bridge to a new era

Everything here is predicated on the idea that a group of nations decide together to colonize the Moon and devote the funds necessary to do so properly without question. So, let the model be that the first missions are funded and carried out jointly by the nations with well-established space agencies - the United States, Russia, the European Union, China, India, Japan, and Canada. Once the Residence Program (explained below) begins, all nations participate.

This is, of course, the arena where Moonwards leaves reality aside. A case can be made that until we undertake something together on the scale imagined here, and thus establish a sense of common cause, the world will not have peace. If so, contemplating it is helpful to reaching such peace, however remote it is from the world we live in.

The rosy, cozy view envisioned below also maximizes the scope of activity the project can ponder. In many places it's even simply convenient for organizing people into groups within the virtual world. If things about it seem undesirable to you, please bear in mind it is deliberately Utopian for all these reasons, and is not meant to endorse any political policy in the real world.

Phase 1 - duration 15 years

Construction of the Earth Equatorial Space Station

Because of the scale and nature of the work that happens on this station, it is built in an equatorial orbit. These orbits never pass through the South Atlantic Anomaly, so the radiation exposure of people on the station is a fraction of what crews on the ISS get. This architecture has been extensively explored by Al Globus et al.. The station is the proving grounds for tele-operated robotic construction. Successful development of that and cost savings from reusable launch vehicles allows creation of a space station on a much grander scale than the current International Space Station. Progress in AI, tele-robotics, and in-situ lunar resource processing allow later materials to be obtained from the Moon.

What the EESS includes
  • An area for on-orbit assembly of the ships that will go to the Moon (the Pod Ships and the Lunar Nuclear Craft). This area is also the base for assembling the Station modules and components delivered from Earth. It is the first thing built - a hexagon of trusses all connected to a central module.
  • Aside from being the construction area, the hexagonal truss area is where automated ships berth, cargo pods are moored, and robots are stored. Bits and pieces get tacked onto it while things are being built or repaired, satellites or probes are being prepared for deployment, or equipment flying experiments do their work. We shall call it the Hexagon.
  • The Hub starts as the initial module at the center of the Hexagon and then grows outwards in one direction. Large tanks for water brought from the Moon, and equipment to crack it into hydrogen and oxygen, liquefy that, and store it until it is used to fill the fuel tanks of ships, is clustered around that module.
  • Further modules extending the Hub house all the key infrastructure for the Station - power conversion and distribution, cooling, air tanks, air scrubbers, airlocks and docks for crewed ships, tools, sensors, comms equipment, and initial crew quarters.
  • Then, a flattened Torus is added. It and the Hub are spun up to create a simulated gravity environment. The torus is large enough to accommodate both crew quarters and labs doing a range of research on low-gravity. It has several greenhouse spaces and sections for animal experiments. Its outer rim experiences centrifugal force equivalent to the gravity on Mars, while the top floor of its torus is like lunar gravity. The Hub contains a lab for micro-gravity experiments. The Hexagon does not rotate, it is counter-spun to keep it stationary relative to the Earth.
  • Finally, 4 Teardrops are added to the torus, spaced 90° apart, each across from one of the tubes connecting the Torus to the Hub. The shallow bowls at the bottom of the cones connecting them to the Torus experience centrifugal force of nearly one gravity. This means crew would move regularly between environments with different levels of gravity. Over time, monitoring of the crew's health establishes how much time in how much gravity is needed for good health.
  • The solar panels need to be quite extensive for the Station to do its construction and processing work, and to supply the labs with all the power they need. They extend from the end of the hub opposite the hexagon of trusses, together with the radiator panels.
  • Many elements of the final components built, including internal elements of the Torus and the Teardrops, are made with materials from the Moon
  • Water and lunar dust from the Moon turn the greenhouses and animal habitats into complex micro-environments. This enables experiments in creating fertile soil from the lunar dust, cultivation of a wide range of plants, and the adaptation of small animals to the small garden environments thus created.
Pod Ships start shuttling between Earth orbit and Lunar Orbit

The Pod Ships are operated remotely. They are capable of doing rendezvous and docking maneuvers on their own. Basically they are a nose with all the operating systems, a robotic arm, and a pair of solar panel wings, then a long truss with racks for the pods, and then the fuel tanks and engines on the far end.

The pods are the space equivalent of shipping containers - standardized and mass-produced tubes with rounded ends covered in insulation and Whipple shielding, a sliding door, internal structures for storage, and connectors if items need power or a comms connection. A Pod Ship can take 8 small pods or 4 long ones. Crew are transported in pods adapted for life support and basic accommodations. Some pods are water tanks, returning mined water from the Moon to the EESS. Pod Ships are designed for a maximum payload of 80 tons to lunar orbit when operations begin.

Pod Ship Operations and Early Missions
  • These ships have next gen hydrolox engines capable of many restarts. They get serviced between trips at the EESS.
  • Early missions are all to a polar orbit. Once tether construction begins, they all enter a circular orbit about 20° off the Moon's terminator (between the night side and the day side), at an altitude of 5000 km. The skyhook complex goes there so that not only does it have constant sunlight on its solar panels,[?] but the three later polar skyhooks spaced 45° apart all will too.
  • The 1st and 2nd missions deliver 2 Lunar Nuclear Craft, extra fuel, and initial equipment for surface operations.
  • Then there are 20 missions to deliver the equipment and components to build the first polar skyhook. The Pod Ship that delivers the first of these stays in orbit so its solar arrays can power the construction equipment, plus it provides a comms link, orbital maintenance, and a stable construction platform. The other in operation at this point delivers materials and equipment every 2 weeks.
  • The first half dozen of these missions deploy several satellites each. First is a set of comms satellites so polar ops always has a radio link with Earth. The next three bring sets of observation satellites for imaging in high resolution and a suite of wavelengths, plus radar, lidar, and gravity mapping. The last two deploy a lunar GPS system
  • On the 3rd skyhook mission, a crew pod is dropped off and connected to the Pod Ship staying in orbit, with a crew of 4 that stay for 4 weeks. They oversee initial deployment and testing of the skyhook construction equipment, and remotely operate equipment at the lunar pole. The 6th one delivers the superstructure of the future Crossroads Station, and the Pod Ship leaves, handing off its duties to that skeletal Station. The role of the Station after this is outlined in its section below.
  • A few months after the start of lunar surface operations, ongoing missions commence to deliver fuel, equipment and materials which the LNCs transfer to polar ops.
  • By the end of this phase, the Pod Ships have delivered many loads of equipment and supplies, and have rotated many crews. They return to the EESS carrying water, regolith and rock, and initial in situ processed materials for testing, and later, for incorporation into internal elements of the EESS.
Maintaining the orbit with this relationship to the terminator requires it be made to precess one revolution around the poles each year. Our estimate is that this requires a few meters per second of delta V each day, which fits easily into the fuel budget.
Lunar Nuclear Craft (LNCs, pronounced 'links')

These craft use nuclear thermal engines with a bipropellant design, known as a LANTR design. They get thrust by superheating hydrogen, and during launch and landing, can greatly augment that thrust by injecting oxygen into the engine nozzle, basically like an afterburner. They are designed for vertical landing and takeoff.

The LNCs are similar in architecture to the Pod Ships, including being self-piloting. The difference is their engines are nuclear, which means they include heavy shielding, and they don't have solar panels, as they draw their electrical power from the nuclear reactor as well. Their racks have space for up to 4 small pods or 2 large ones. Thanks to their bipropellant capability, they are able to launch and land about 20 tons of payload even before there is a tether reducing the delta V required, though it takes a lot more fuel to do so. Once the tether is in place, they are designed to move loads up to 40 tons to and from the tether foot.

LNC Operations and Early Missions
  • Initially the LNCs help the surface rovers set up operations by providing supplemental power from their onboard reactors, acting as a comms link, and using their robotic arms
  • Once water production allows supplementing of their fuel supply, and the growing tether lowers delta V requirements, they shuttle loads of lunar rock to the tether foot. This is taken up to the tether anchor to increase its mass. They do this as often as possible.
  • With further increases in water production, they begin delivering tanks of water to the tether foot as well, as often as possible.
  • They do a series of sortie missions to the lunar maria and areas of interest, collecting samples for analysis and experimentation, and surveying.
  • Before people can be landed on the surface, a system needs to be constructed to keep them safe from the radiation of the LNC engines. A well is excavated in the LNC landing pad, so that before people exit the craft, the engine section is unclamped and lowered into it, eliminating the radiation hazard. This unclamping and lowering system must be built into the craft from the beginning, and should be used as soon as the well is built, though people won't arrive for a couple of years.
Crossroads Skyhook and Anchor Station Construction

Once the superstructure for Crossroads is delivered, it is continuously occupied by crews of 8, who stay for 4 weeks at a time. Further deliveries by the Pod Ships build up its capacity, and the regolith that the LNCs send up establish good shielding. Once there is enough shielding over key areas such as sleeping berths, crews begin to extend their stays. By the end of this phase a crew of 12 is always aboard, and people stay for up to a year at a time.

The crew of Crossroads can operate the robots on the lunar surface, and on the skyhook, without the significant delay during transmissions from Earth which slow and complicate tele-operation. Much more complex and dynamic robotic work can be done in this situation. That is explained in the next column.

By the end of this phase, the lower tether is equipped with a foot platform that can berth a fully loaded LNC, a tip platform that can berth a fully loaded Pod Ship, and climbers that can transfer the full payloads of both. This requires a total of 1000 tons of Zylon woven into a ribbon extending 5000 km downwards and another reaching 4500 km upwards, which can carry the load of the platforms, climbers, maintenance and motion control systems, berthed ships, and cargo, with a safety factor of 2. The foot platform is only 20 km above the lunar surface.

The complete skyhook allows the LNCs to reach the foot platform using one fifth of the delta V needed to reach orbit, and the Pod Ships to break lunar orbit on an Earth trajectory with no fuel use at all - they just let go of the top of the tether. The fuel thus saved allows the Pod Ships to haul 100 tons instead of 80.

Crossroads Systems and Operations
  • The climber cars run on power beamed as microwaves from the anchor station and from the foot platform. Onboard flywheel energy storage allows them to go short distances without receiving external power. There are 10 waystations along both tethers, where cars can pass each other, and where microwave receivers and transmitters pass power from either end of the tether up or down. Such receivers and transmitters can be very light, though some need to be large to be effective. The large ones can be mostly on the anchor station, where their mass doesn't matter.[?]
  • The waystations also make it easier for maintenance and stabilizer carts to shuttle along the tether checking and repairing its cables, and releasing and catching momentum-exchange weights. The waystations are places where the carts can recharge their flywheels (though they also have microwave receivers for power). At the waystations, the tether is stronger and more protected. When new cables are woven into the tether, it is done between waystations.
  • The anchor station runs on solar power. Because the tether orbits near the terminator, the only time its solar arrays aren't in sunlight is during the occasional eclipse by the Earth. The solar arrays are extended over time as a wing extending from one side of the station.
  • Maintaining anchor altitude and a circular orbit is mostly achieved through passive momentum transfer, by dropping and retrieving weights. Engines on the anchor supplement this and do the work of precessing the anchor's orbit to keep it always in the same relationship to the sun. VASMIR drives, or Neumann drives, or maybe HiPEP drives - whatever wins the high-ISP race will do nicely.
  • Because the foot platform is only 20 km from the surface, and moving quite slowly, it is a wonderful place to put a few cameras. It gets a bunch with nice huge lenses and a selection of filters, and radar and lidar units.

An alternative is the climber cars run on nuclear power from a small reactor connected to Stirling engine generators. By putting the reactor in a separate car and running a power cable from there to the climber, the reactor can be kept a kilometer or more from the climber, allowing a shield with a smaller area to be used between the two. A shielded dock thus has to be made above the foot platform, so the climber can pass the reactor and reach its destination. A dock that is about 10 km from the anchor station is also needed, so the cone of shielded space is wide enough to cover the whole station, and anything that might stick out gets a weaker dose. Overall, the microwave beaming approach seems more flexible, more robust, and safer, as long as the beams can be kept well aligned despite oscillations due to actions on the tether. The transmitters would need to be able to rotate a small amount to keep receivers in their focus. Having flywheels to store energy as well thus is also interesting in that they can be used simultaneously to dampen oscillations. Energy harvested when climbers control descent by braking could also be used to spin up the flywheels. Perhaps calculations would show the flywheels would be too heavy to be a significant help, pending that it is just a thought.
Robot and Rover Mission

Each of the 2 LNCs delivers equipment to the base site on the west rim of Hinshelwood crater, each returning once to the Pod Ship to land it all. They land 80 tons of robots, equipment, and supplies, and enough water for the hydrolysis pod to produce the fuel needed for them to make it back to orbit. The robots, operated from Earth and then from orbit, deploy the solar power systems, a hangar for lab work and long-term maintenance and repair, scout, test lots of equipment including for water mining, excavation, and construction, and do a bunch of 'paving' (fusing of the powdery surface into a solid layer).

Initial tasks done by robots
  • Set up tall masts for solar panels and microwave power transmitters, cables and power management equipment, and radiator units.
  • A half-pipe shaped hangar is set up on ground that has been roughly leveled and paved. It is an unpressurized shell with a various snap-together units inside, creating a maintenance and repair hangar for the robots and their tools, and a lab area. All the equipment for these tasks in installed in the prefab bays designed for them.
  • One of the cargo pods lowered from a LNC is a self-contained unit for converting water to liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. It only needs power from the solar masts or the LNC reactors, and its custom radiator units deployed. It lands with a full water tank.
  • A rover using simple mirrors and Fresnel lenses fuses surface regolith around the site. The thin layer created will tend to break up and shift, but by driving a grid of fused regolith stakes into the ground before passing the lens over an area, the melted surface fuses with the stakes into one piece. Cracking then doesn't lead to shifting. Thickening the fused layer by spreading more regolith overtop and heating it is done in areas that call for it, such as the LNC landing pads.
  • These simple stakes and perhaps one or two other simple shapes are produced in graphite molds filled with molten regolith produced with a parabolic mirror setup.
  • Experimentation is done with making useful shapes by cast-in-place methods after pressing shapes into the powder regolith, and by scanning concentrated sunlight over a bed of powder regolith.
  • Potential ice mining sites are scouted and surveyed. A large area is surveyed with ground-penetrating radar and seismic sensors, both within Hinshelwood Crater, and in surrounding depressions. Many cores are drilled out and taken for analysis in the lab.
  • Prototype equipment for ice mining is tested in shallow depressions that don't reach the unEarthly cold of the large northern craters, which are far more challenging environments and of much greater scientific interest.
  • A unit for boring deep holes is tested in a sunlit area. In the holes bored, small charges are laid and excavation by blasting is tested - far from everything else, and on a small scale.
  • The wells for the LNC nuclear engines are blasted out and prepped.
  • The LNCs conduct sortie missions scouting places of interest on the Moon and returning samples for testing in the lab.
Crew Sortie Mission and Robot Expansion

An initial inflatable hab for crew sorties that looks a lot like a Quonset hut (based on upcoming design by Benaroya et al.) is delivered and set up prior to the arrival of a crew of 4 that stays for 2 weeks. The LNCs deliver a further 100 tons of materials and supplies in support of the crew and accompanying mission goals.

Their work makes the robots about as agile and precise as people. They test and deploy the new equipment that arrived before their mission. Much of that equipment is prototype water mining robots. By the time they leave, the robots on the base are as capable as a permanent crew of around 30 people. They are assisted in their work by the crew on Crossroads Station, who do the remote operation of the robots.

How the Crews Augment the Robots
  • They set up infrastructure that enhances the precision of the robots dramatically: rails, grids of sensors and signals, monitoring cameras. These are placed with precision the robots were not capable of on their own.
  • They do any repairs that were beyond the abilities of the remotely operated repair bays, which mostly used drop-in replacement parts. They install and test equipment to give those repair bays abilities comparable to a human with a full workshop.
  • They deploy and test the next generation of robots, designed based on experience with the first generation. They do final assembly and calibration before putting them through their paces in a way that efficiently collects data for design of the 3rd generation.
  • They especially focus on deploying and testing several prototype water mining units, assessing them and adjusting them in a series of trials. This information is used to deploy the first generation of truly industrial equipment, after which water production becomes a real business.
  • They set up the guides and markers showing the robots where to excavate for the first permanent hab, and the production units for the construction materials that hab will be made of. They ensure the products from those stations meet quality standards and the construction robots are performing up to spec. Once satisfied, they give the green light for construction to commence.
Construction of First Hab at the Polar Base

This habitat is the first instance of the robots doing truly complex work. It isn't possible until the crew on Crossroads is able to control them finely, and count on them to execute a lot of complex behaviour with little to no direction (such as maintaining their balance, picking things up, throwing and catching things).

It also requires excavating a cube 30 m on a side, and mass production of simple construction materials with consistent quality (though that quality doesn't have to be high). The outer walls and internal floors, walls and furnishings are made with local materials.

Everything else is shipped in, but it takes only one Pod Ship payload to deliver it all. Large items include a second inflatable hab with an extra large airlock, the tubes and mirrors of the light funnels, the multi-layer transparent membrane roof and its reinforcing cables, several very large high-resolution computer screens, and a radiator unit.

If assistance from the crew at Crossroads is required, they can fly in for a week at a time and stay in the inflatable hab. The aim would be very much to avoid that, perhaps there might be one or two such trips.

Water Production

Once a successful approach to ice mining is found, 200 tons of equipment is brought in to do just that. Initial caution to preserve the permanently shadowed regions for research is abandoned in Hinshelwood Crater and Hermite A Crater. They become ice mines. This opens the possibility of using techniques that are much more disruptive, but get ever more efficient with scale. One possibility is covering a large area with a strong membrane and sealing it to the ground, putting a heater in the center of it, and pumping off any gases released by the heat.

With this industrial approach and the cargo capacity of the transport system, water production ramps up very quickly. Accompanying production of carbon dioxide, ammonia, and several trace gases is also significant for lunar development. Production exceeds 10 kilotons per year within 5 years, if reserves are at the low end of predictions.

This means that all the fuel for the Pod Ships, the LNCs, and other spacecraft fueling at the EESS then comes from the Moon.

Creation of the International Space Agency

The agencies of most of the major space-faring nations cooperated in the construction of the International Space Station: ESA, JAXA, Roscosmos, NASA, and CSA. This is the best precedent but is a minor collaboration compared to what would be involved in settling the Moon.

So the ISA is created and has its own staff, taken from all the member agencies. The founders are the United States, Russia, China, the European Union, India, Japan, and Canada. The agency creates the overall plan and parcels out the work on it. As the United States remains the country with the largest space industry and the most launch facilities, it is headquartered in Florida not far from Kennedy Space Center.

The construction of the EESS serves as the test case for settling questions of jurisdiction, ownership, information sharing, and legal responsibility. Again the agreements covering the ISS are the model that would need to be built on.

A shift to an open-source model regarding sharing of the technology developed for the project reduces tensions on several of those issues. A treaty is drawn up for the rest.

As the project would be underway for a number of years before it involved a permanent human settlement, and a number of years more before there was profit, the scale of cooperation needed to continue working together can ramp up at a manageable pace. A limited-time amendment mechanism for the treaty is used to refine it during its first decade or two of existence.

The endeavor provides a model for international cooperation that can be applied in many other areas. The sense of shared goals that comes with the undertaking supports the growth of international goodwill.

By the end of this phase, the Pod Ships have made around 100 trips to lunar orbit, most of them carrying crew for Crossroads. The last trips bring crew for First Hab at the polar base, now dubbed Inukshuk Colony[?]. First Hab is a permanent structure that houses 40 crew from the ISA nations. That crew is composed of married couples on extended missions of at least 5 years. The ice mines are producing 20 kilotons of water per year. This water supplies all the fuel for the LNCs, the Pod Ships, and the EESS. It has been used to augment the shielding of Crossroads Station and First Hab, and to supply a large fuel depot at the EESS. There were about 200 launches from Earth lifting a total of 10 kilotons of payload to accomplish all this - an average of 13 launches per year. The ISA nations have withdrawn from the Outer Space Treaty and signed a new Space Treaty governing their actions in space. That treaty evolved from the agreements they set up to cover the EESS and their joint lunar ventures, including the amendments that were enacted over the course of this phase.

While the crew tested the upgraded and new robots on their first sortie at the polar base, they used them to construct several inukshuks - stacks of balanced stones traditionally used as landmarks among Arctic peoples. They made one particularly large one, liked it, and left it standing. Thus the colony acquired its name.

Phase 2 - duration 15 years

Gagarin Skyhook and Anchor Station

This process is a repeat of building Crossroads, except much faster, and much bigger. At least, Gagarin is set up from the outset to grow into the future shipyard, full orbital colony, and manufacturing center it will later be. The superstructure delivered from the EESS is much larger, as is its wing of solar panels. The deployment of the cables, cars, and all its parts goes faster the second time around. The LNCs on the surface begin sending up full loads of regolith, rock, and water that add anchoring mass to the station, as soon as the lower tether is close to its full length.

Because it is in an equatorial orbit, ships can launch from it or dock with it at any time of the month (Crossroads is only properly aligned for that twice a month). Another important new feature of Gagarin is that its upper tether extends to 17500 km above the lunar surface. At that altitude, the outward velocity imparted to a vessel hanging on to it is enough to fling it all the way to Venus, or Mars. All that has to be done is to detach from the cable at the right moment.

Expansion of Crossroads Skyhook

The solar array wing of Crossroads is greatly expanded, in preparation for beaming of power to Lalande Crater for upcoming construction. The Station is upgraded and expanded to accommodate a crew of 50 who stay for terms of 1 to 5 years. It gets a centrifuge so that they can do so without risk to their health.

Gagarin and Crossroads Operations
  • Some materials sent up from the surface now are actual structures fabricated at the colony. Their materials are fairly crude, but they are sturdy because weight doesn't really matter - making the anchor heavy is part of the goal. Thus they are strong enough to do their jobs. Pressure vessels, tanks, and trusses are sent up and added to the stations.
  • The tethers of Gagarin are upgraded throughout this period to handle ever greater loads. By the end of it both tethers can handle up to a kiloton of material at a time.
  • Both skyhooks spend more time ferrying LNCs around the Moon, as there are now many missions to different spots on its surface. Several deposits of pure metal have been found in the central peaks of craters - remains of the meteors that impacted there, ones that came in slowly enough, at the right angle, to not have vaporized completely. Those deposits are being mined, both for the metal, and for accompanying carbon minerals. Also there are lots of exploration missions with science objectives, to lava tubes, volcanic regions, the south pole, and the far side, where a radio telescope is being set up.
Lunar Fleet Expansion

The Pod ship and LNC fleet is expanded to support construction of Gagarin and Sagan skyhooks, and greatly increased sortie missions. Four Pod Ships ply the route to the Moon, 2 meeting Crossroads and 2 going to the equator to build Gagarin, and then Sagan. These two then do Gagarin's transport runs. They are larger - they can break Earth orbit carrying 250 tons. The LNC fleet increases to six. Four LNCs support Inukshuk, including sortie missions to other parts of the Moon and delivering fuel to the LNCs working on what will be Gagarin Skyhook. Those two LNCs are larger, capable of flying 60 ton payloads to the foot of Gagarin once it is commissioned.

A new class of ship is also created - Hopper ships. These ships transfer cargo between skyhooks, avoiding the inefficiency of sending something down a tether to a LNC, which than takes it to the destination tether, whose climber takes it up to that station. Hoppers instead climb a little up the upper tether of their skyhook and let go, so that at the top of the arc of their orbit, they can do the plane change that puts them on course to rendezvous with the anchor station of the destination skyhook, or a waystation platform part way along the upper tether. They use ordinary hydrolox engines, like the Pod ships, and can transfer up to 5 tons this way. They aren't capable of landing on the Moon's surface.

The Fetch ship also make their debut in the Lunar Fleet, but they deserve their own section

Day of the Asteroid Fetchers

The hunt for near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) is on, using the 3 fetcher spacecraft maintained at the ready, berthed at waystations on Gagarin's upper tether. They are sent along the upper tethers and released at the altitude and moment that puts them on the best available trajectory to whatever opportune NEA is detected. The speed and trajectory imparted on release leave these craft with more fuel available for pushing the asteroid into a trajectory back to lunar orbit. They have VASMIR engines powered by solar panels and fueled by hydrogen. Their fuel tanks are filled just before launch from larger cryogenic tanks set up at the waystations. These storage tanks are well-sheltered from solar heat by cones of specialized multi-layer insulation and have their own cryogenic chilling mechanisms to reduce losses due to boil-off.

The craft use the SHEPHERD approach of enveloping the NEA. In this method, a giant open bag is positioned around the asteroid and then its end is drawn closed. The bag is filled with xenon gas which is then circulated with fans. The turbulence this produces slowly stops the asteroid's spin and tumble. In this way, the many asteroids that are very fragile don't disintegrate. They are returned in their original state, allowing us to study their structure. The bags on these Fetchers can surround an object up to 10 m across. If the trajectory and speed of the NEA is fortuitous, the Fetchers can return an asteroid of up to 3 kilotons.

Gagarin's tip platform is equipped with telescopes specialized to search for just such targets, which are largely unknown objects detected only when they are very close. Two such telescopes slung under the platform, on bases that isolate them from its motions, scan the sky constantly for tiny, dim NEAs. They identify targets automatically, compute their parameters, and send in the information to the anchor station. By the time a human is alerted, the station's computers have plotted a rendezvous trajectory and possibly even a fetch ship is being prepped. It is possible with such tiny objects that the window of opportunity is soon and brief. Even with the optimized telescopes, a good target might become visible only hours before its closest approach - especially the dark ones full of valuable carbon. The crew only has to approve the launch, and a fetcher will take off by itself and do the rest.

Once caught and marshalled, the asteroid is put on a course for Sagan Skyhook. Done with that trip, the Hoppers help them back to Gagarin, and they take up their station again. Once we get the hang of this, the fetchers are upgraded for even bigger catches.

Sagan Skyhook and Telescope

The third skyhook is not for shipping things to space. Its main purpose is research. It has two major research projects. First, when the fetch ships come in with a bagged asteroid, they gently pull in to the anchor station, which has specialized berths for just this situation. Hoppers may render assistance if the fetcher is getting low on fuel. Here, the asteroid can be studied over time in detail without other station operations getting in the way, as they likely would on the busy stations at Crossroads and Gagarin. Sagan has space for all three fetch ships, and more space so the asteroids can be unbagged and nudged into a berth of their own.

This easy-going situation for collected asteroids won't last, though. Once an asteroid has been thoroughly studied, unless it is very special indeed, it gets mined. What doesn't go down the tether is sent by the Hoppers to Gagarin for the shipyard and factories. Eventually, when Gagarin is more mature, it will make more sense to ship asteroids directly to Gagarin. Then Sagan's asteroid docks will be converted for other research purposes best done on an isolated, specialized station.

Sagan also has a giant telescope fitted on its tip platform that would make the James Webb blush. It is carefully isolated from motions transmitted up the tether and very well shielded from heat and electromagnetic noise. The tether allows it to be easily serviced and upgraded over time, and also allows it to be huge and heavy while remaining agile.

Incidentally, Sagan is also around so that LNCs hitching a ride can get to any given spot on the Moon once a week, instead of once every two weeks. Its foot platform can grapple and hold hitchhiking LNCs, but cargo doesn't go up its tether, only down. So its climber car is stripped down as it needs much less power. It can lower 40 tons but can lift only 1 ton, which it does on solar power and energy stored from the descent in batteries. No power is beamed along the tether, its maintenance carts get around on power from their own solar panels, and work at a leisurely pace.

Expansion of the EESS

A second, larger spinning section is added to the EESS, this time made mostly of lunar materials, including some structural elements. It looks sort of like a spinning top. Engineering of equipment for the Moon is now done mostly on the EESS, in a ring section open to vacuum extending from the first torus, spinning at lunar gravity levels, parts of it carpeted with a layer of genuine lunar regolith to imitate the Moon's surface. The Hexagon is extended to have several levels. Modules within it develop microgravity and vacuum manufacturing.

Long Hab
First Greenhouse
Research into Basic Industry
Missions Around the Moon

Perfect Place for a Great Telescope
Easy servicing, power and data trasmission provided by existing station infrastructure, mass of the telescope not an issue, aiming and tracking of the scope very easy (though elaborate measures have to be taken to isolate it from vibrations and oscillations due to other activity on the skyhook). The anchor makes an excellent home for a really awesome telescope. For this reason it is named for Carl Sagan, an astronomer who dreamed of space settlement and is a figurehead of the movement.

Nothing else is planned for this skyhook - activities will occur at Gagarin Station on the equatorial skyhook once it is built. All that needs to happen at Sagan, is that its mass be replaced with bulk regolith and fused regolith structures so its valuable minerals can be extracted at Inukshuk, and it needs to berth the pod ship every two weeks while payload transfers occur, and mechanisms on it need to keep the skyhook's orbit in good shape.

Once Gagarin is commissioned, the pod ship will berth there instead. Shuttles will continue to use Sagan's skyhook for travel around the Moon, but will no longer send payload up the tether. Instead, they will take payloads to Lalande, and from there they will be sent up Gagarin's skyhook. Once all the useful minerals in Sagan's asteroid are used up, things will be pretty peaceful there. The telescope can be spread out, given multiple mirrors and fancy shades to protect it from heat and radiation. Once it is no longer needed for transport to and from the surface, the telescope's needs dictate development on that skyhook.

The Residence Program Begins

This is actually the final step of this phase, happening after everything in the other columns is done. However, preparation has been happening for years.

There will be 7 rounds to this program. The second one goes partly to Inukshuk, and partly to Lalande. The table shows the main aspects of each round.

The Residence Program - Basic structure and rules

A lot happens during the course of the 7 rounds of the RP. By the time the last round is complete, Lalande and Inukshuk have both reached the full extent shown in Phase 1 of the virtual colonies. Although the residents must qualify, and sign a contract stipulating their duties and obligations, they are free to pursue their own projects as time permits. In later rounds residents will have more free time and greater discretion to pursue activities aside from their official duties on the colony. For more detail on qualifications see the previous section.

RoundSpacesPriceTotal Revenue
1200$150 million US$30 billion US
Only couples married >10 yr, over 40, no kids under 18, min. B.Sc. or B.Eng but higher preferred, one of couple post-doc or experienced pro, arts or sports ability. Note: Qualifications for all rounds are announced several years before it begins, leaving plenty of time for interested people to upgrade skills so they can apply.
2400$75 million US$30 billion US
Same conditions hold as previous round, greater focus on establishing a truly representative population. The ISA nations add another 50 astronauts, who continue to be the senior staff.
3800$40 million US$32 billion US
Same conditions as previous rounds, advanced degrees in the humanities now an alternative possible qualification for one member of each couple, other still must be a post-doc or expert pro in the sciences or engineering. The ISA nations add a final 100 astronauts to manage the settlements.
41600$20 million US$32 billion US
Some single people now accepted, other conditions remain the same. Birth control policies remain the same. Administration is transferred to the Moon Agency and some RP astronauts are promoted into administrative posts.
53200$10 million US$32 billion US
Greater proportion of singles accepted. Residents may now be sponsored by groups other than nations, but not by commercial entities. Some residents arrive representing foundations, professional associations, and universities. Corporate interests may provide funding, but may not directly sponsor a resident. The Moon Agency becomes more mixed between the ISA nations and RP astronauts from other countries.
66400$5 million US$32 billion US
The Anshar skyhook orbiting Earth is finished, and because this makes transport so much cheaper, about 1000 of these astronauts are younger married couples around age 30 who have no children but plan to have some. As it is not yet clear how pregnancy and childhood on the Moon will play out, these couples are advised that should they become pregnant, they must return to Earth for the pregnancy and the first years of the child's life. They may then return to the Moon. The child will be carefully monitored and the family will return to Earth if a threat to the child's health is detected. Qualification still based on education - seeking a majority of people with strong science and engineering backgrounds, but a significant minority with superlative humanities backgrounds.
712800$5 million US$64 billion US
The requirement of sterility is eliminated, and the average age of the astronauts drops to near 30. Risks regarding pregnancy and growing children living in space are significant, but have solutions. For the sake of argument, we shall assume the first 2 months of pregnancy is not affected by conditions in the lunar colonies, and that children over three can be healthy there if a careful program is followed.

Price for a residential spot when the Moon opens to the public:

. Population when the opening occurs:
25,600 souls
. Though the duration of the program could be drawn out by difficult techical hurdles, since energetic investment is being assumed, we shall estimate the whole thing is completed in
50 years

Transport cont'd

Asteroid for Equatorial skyhook arrives in orbit

This is going to be the real transport hub for the Moon, together with Cernan's Promise and later Lalande City. It develops into a colony in its own right. It is another carbonaceous asteroid, this time massing 25 metric kilotons. It is placed in a circular orbit 5000 km above the surface, so that it has the same orbital period as Sagan Skyhook and they will never be at risk of collision.

Upper and lower tethers just like the ones on Sagan are built outwards from the asteroid. These will be reinforced to take bigger payloads over time, and to run multiple payload cars up and down.

Reusable Rockets

The launch rates needed to accomplish the missions after Residence Program Round 2 require one of two things: much higher public enthusiasm for space, or much cheaper launch costs. Rocket stages that are used many times with modest refurbishment in between can reduce launch costs to a fraction of current costs. Roughly, a reusable first stage like SpaceX currently targets, that can be reliably and cheaply reused 20 times, might drop costs to half what they are now. A reusable second stage with the same properties, and mass production rates giving economies of scale, might halve that again.

There has been enough success to date to clearly indicate someone is going to manage this, be it SpaceX, or Blue Origin, or one of the more established rocket companies. It might take longer than hoped, but it is going to happen.

The launches needed for Resident Program Rounds 1 and 2 can be done at the best prices currently charged. Plans would not proceed unless Inukshuk Base was producing enough water to provide for all the residents and the needs of the base, and to fuel the shuttle and the pod ship. Thus the tonnage of supplies that would have to be delivered would be manageable. A healthy margin on those astronauts can be had in this architecture, to recoup the costs up to this point. It is important not to proceed unless the robots have preformed up to spec, but once they do, costs are well controlled.

Rounds 3 and 4 would not yield much margin unless launch costs do drop a lot, or other revenue streams are sufficient. That is the time that depends most on public enthusiasm either justifying the cost or creating the revenue to support it (through broadcasting and such).

Colony Dev. cont'd

Expansion of Inukshuk colony

The First Hab crew and the astronauts of the RP build more infrastructure at Inukshuk. More robotic equipment arrives from Earth to assist, including better 3d printers, reactors for chemical processing, and more advanced robots and rovers. They work through the following list:

Socio-Economic Dev. cont'd

Ordinary Life on the Moon

The 200 residents from RP round 1 work alongside the 50 First Hab crew to achieve the listed goals. English is the working language. The First Hab crew are the senior staff, and lead RP crews on the various projects. Work largely continues to be done remotely from within the habs at interface stations.

Each married couple has a small apartment. Kitchens, bathrooms, showers, clothes washers, and everything else that involves plumbing, waste processing, or food is in centralized facilities shared by everyone. The second hab is known as Long Hab, thanks to its long narrow shape. It has a common exercise area, multi-use gathering area, and workshop for the use of residents on their own time. The greenhouses are also set up partially as relaxation and exercise areas.

Health Program Developed

The First Hab crew stayed healthy before this by an intensive exercise program modeled on that developed for the ISS, but with time better approaches are found.

The Equatorial Skyhook becomes Gagarin Station

The asteroid is mined, and as material from it is sent down to Cernan's Promise, components for a space station are sent back up, plus gravel and rocks to maintain or increase its mass. This space station will expand over time to fill certain economic niches:

Expansion of the Lunar Fleet

3 More Nuclear Shuttles and 3 More Pod Ships
Let us estimate that many are needed for an agile fleet by the end of this period. They may need to be larger than the first ones. These are simply to support Gagarin, the shipyard, and the Residence Program. They also transport some official visitors and a modest number of tourists.

Asteroid Fetch Ships
Several are launched by private companies. The Moon Agency enforces regulations on these activities and has jurisdiction to seize the ships if necessary, or may take a range of lesser actions.

Space Tugs
Several also start to operate out of Gagarin Station under private operation. They service satellites or salvage dead ones, and deliver ones made at Cernan's Promise to their orbits. The MA regulates these too.

Agency Ships
Two small, powerful nuclear ships are built, which stay docked at Gagarin, there if needed. They are mostly for the purpose of rescue operations, but also send the message that if the MA decides to seize your ship, it can. Like everything else, they can pilot themselves, but they have pressurized cabins sufficient for a small crew.

Construction of Cernan's Promise

It goes on the East rim of Lalande Crater, and uses Lalande's mineral wealth to create an extensive construction industry. It is named Cernan's Promise in rememberance of the last words spoken on the Moon, by Gene Cernan: 'We leave as we came and God willing as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind'.

This is achieved quickly because the robots are continually upgraded, more are shipped in or built, and they become able to do more and more without supervision. One of the fabrication lines built in the hangars of stage 3 manufactures robots that are added to the workforce, as well as some being sent to Gagarin. They need only a few circuit boards, sensors, motors, and actuators from Earth to go to work. The construction of all these things only takes 7 years, even as the factories of CP also send structures and equipment to other expanding settlements.

Commerce and Industry at Cernan's Promise

In the hangars around CP, many things are built - parts for satellites, space ships, space stations, skyhook components, and robotic machinery for space and for the Moon. At first the revenue from this is small, as the production mostly goes to projects of the ISA and the Moon Agency, but it grows quickly. The structures built in stages 5 and 6 are used to host myriad events that boost broadcasting revenue, which is an important income, and for tourism, which is a minor revenue stream but important for more general social reasons. These structures are the outstanding features making people flock to move to the Moon after the end of the RP.

Gagarin Station

Even as all the above is happening, components for Gagarin Station are are also made and shipped out - tanks, trusses, frames, hulls, windows, arms, rails. Similar components are made and sent to expand the ISS, plus bulk regolith shielding, and a large tank of water. A few satellites are made and placed in orbit.

Expansion of Inukshuk Colony

As the population grows, more greenhouses are needed. Ice mining also expands, now being done in a whole set of craters. The ice mining is now almost completely automated. The population at Inukshuk levels off at 1000 people, and everyone else goes to Lalande.

Residence Program rounds 2 through 4

Total population at the completion of these events is 3200 people - 3000 from the RP, and 200 from the ISA nations who continue to administer the colonies.

The Moon Agency
is created at this point, and staff is extended beyond the existing management staff to include some of the residents. The MA oversees colony activity beyond this point, following the dictates of a treaty created to establish its policies.

Cultural Impact Back Home
Some programming broadcast from the colonies becomes quite popular on Earth. Certain sports have evolved into something unique and entertaining, and there are now leagues of small competing teams, and scheduled matches for several sports that include annual championships. A sort of variety talk show has also become very popular. An annual arts event gets considerable attention and includes virtual participation by people on Earth. Many of the video blogs of different resident groups have large loyal followings. The lunar population includes a number of people who have become international celebrities, and even more who are major celebrities in their home countries.

The Moon Fund and Opening of the Economy

The lunar economy nears break even during these events, which triggers a set of pre-agreed actions:

Cooperative Dynamics
Privatization does not change the contract made with the RP astronauts that their needs are covered for life, nor would it make sense to change that arrangement. They still raise the crops, do the maintenance and repairs - they do everything that keeps the colonies functioning, including looking after transport, power, and telecoms infrastructure that, starting at the end of Round 4, now goes partly to provide services to private companies. All colony resources are essentially held in common, as far as providing for the people there goes.

Informal Economy
As time goes on, there are increasing numbers of deals between residents for goods and services that are extras. There is barter, and sometimes exchanges of funds between Earth-side accounts, which are then used to have extra luxury items delivered. It is usually used for favorite foods, extra clothing, and small furnishings. Towards the end of this period, the freedom of residents to have contracts with entities on Earth and be paid increases, and the wealth of some residents suddenly increases as a result.

Addition of 3 More Polar Skyhooks

The original asteroid retrieval ship, now heavily upgraded, delivers asteroids for the remaining skyhooks for the Moon. They are placed in staggered polar orbits, one every 90°, and all the skyhooks have the same orbital period so they will never interfere with each other. All three mass 25 kilotons, like the Gagarin asteroid. One is again carbonaceous, the other two are mostly metal. They are developed into skyhooks like Sagan, minus the telescope and with less living volume. Mining equipment goes to all three, but there is little call for human habitation on them and they have only basic facilities for a small, occasional crew. The mining and transport work is overseen remotely and is largely automatic.

Lunar Transport Network Spreads Development
With this system complete, the maximum wait between convenient trajectories to or from a skyhook is 3.5 days anywhere on the Moon. With a reasonable fuel penalty, most places are accessible much more regularly. In a pinch a rescue crew can get anywhere in a few hours using the shuttles alone. So, now ice mining starts at the south pole as well, and many other places on the Moon are explored more extensively. In a few places, valuable ores, or very large lava tubes, or some especially exciting discovery is found, and expeditions begin development or exploration there.

Coil Gun Use Begins

Cernan's Promise starts using coil guns to launch cargo to the foot of Gagarin, or straight into orbit or on a trajectory for LEO. These launches are in capsules that have thrusters sufficient for course corrections or orbital maneuvers, and most are reusable. Some can also be decelerated by a catcher with a similar structure on return, that system is made after the initial coil gun.

Lalande B
, at 8 km across and about 30 km north of Lalande, is used for this purpose. All spaceport activity is transferred there over time to provide a buffer zone between it and Lalande City. It also has an even shape and smooth walls so the coil guns over time can be made longer, and to swivel on a track around the crater rim in order to launch or catch in any direction.

Earth Orbital Skyhook Work Begins

Another jump up in mass moved, the asteroid delivered to be the anchor mass is 200 kilotons of material, largely metallic. Its orbit is circularized at 10,000 km altitude, and a tether is built earthwards to an altitude of 250 km. At first the tether is only sufficient for berthing of a small ship at the foot platform, of 10 tons.

This is sufficient for transport of the Round 5 astronauts. Reusable rockets optimized for the delta V needed to reach the foot platform are used to get them there. With these rockets, launch costs do indeed drop to a tiny fraction of what they were before.

Structures Filled In and Capacity Increased

Creating a Homey Feel
While all the structures of Cernan's Promise and Inukshuk now exist, they are only slowly filling up. They were designed to be blank canvasses that fill in organically over time. As the population expands, they build their homes within these spaces. Each arriving group is given temporary lodging, and asked to split themselves into groups of 30 people. Each group is given an area surrounding a basic set of facilites - a cold pantry, a set of sinks, appliances, and showers, gear for a good number of distributed electrical outlets, charging stations, lights, taps, and drains. They are given guidelines on floorspace allotment, but are permitted to combine or trade space within some limits. They are able to use the MIP stations, 3d printers, and other gear to have custom houses made and assembled. As there is no need to install plumbing or any weather protection in their homes, the gravity is so low, and prefab electrical stuff can be easily clipped onto things, the design options for the homes are wide open.

Organization Around Shared Kitchen and Bath
The kitchens, baths, and washing areas each group sets up for their homes are very personalized and identified with each group. (Toilets are the only such amenity not shared - Each apartment gets a waterless composting toilet and a small sink that runs from a water tank. The toilets don't smell and their products are needed in the gardens.) In this process each group forges a group identity and come to feel they are at home. Their creations feel like mini-spas and picnic spots. Some people choose to pool the floorspaces assigned to them to build more elaborate, larger shared houses. Groups can take in more members if they wish, but the practical limit on the number of people who can comfortably share the resources they are given is about 50. Where personalities don't mesh, spaces are exchanged and people join a different group, sometimes then deciding to alter their houses. The cost of this is minimal as the equipment is there and not fully occupied, and the structures are easily altered.

Local Ecosystem
The atriums, Teacup, and the polar greenhouses are filled with plants. The crops yielded incease in quality, quantity, and variety as knowledge is gained and resources increase. The colonies near food independence. Some animals now range free in small numbers within garden areas, including select flying insects, small lizards, and birds.

Becoming a Town
The colonists decide upon and build all the shared facilities they need or enjoy. Office space, workshops, gardens, forums, sports arenas, gathering spots, exercise facilities, event areas, chapels and churches, display areas, meeting rooms, and anything else that isn't included in official construction. There are general guidelines for the things the colonists build but they have a lot of leeway. The official things include medical and safety facilities, storage areas for food and all sorts of supplies, administrative offices, and everything to do with transport or industry. These things are built according to official plans or regulatory standards.

The hangars are filled in with machinery and a variety of products are developed. A wider variety of components are produced for shipment into space. A larger proportion of the robots and machines that do this are produced on site. Quartz glass, basalt composites, mirrors, basalt cloth and cable, and fiberoptics are produced in bulk. Metal objects of iron, magnesium, nickel, and cobalt are stamped, extruded, or made in molds in significant quantities. Specialized items in a variety of metals are 3d printed.

The spaceport is moved mostly to Lalande B and its capacity is ramped up as fast as possible.

With Greater Resident Freedom, A Unique Culture Begins to Form

Economic Approaches
For the first time, more than half of colonists' work time is not devoted to duties assigned by the Moon Agency. Some duties that were previously under its auspices are now done by private businesses. Colonists who performed those duties can now choose whether they want to continue them in exchange for pay or a share of profits with the companies now in charge, set up their own businesses in these areas, or branch out into something else. Because the needs of life will always be free, of the colonists who don't sign up with the companies created by privatization, there is a fairly even split between those who choose a non-commercial approach in the work they come up with, and those who start commercial businesses in new areas or in competition with the privitization companies.

Living in the Commons
A sizable fraction spend their free time on activities with no clear goal. Their sense of security is very high. Food, shelter, medical care, transport, utilities, basics for clothing, furnishings, and household goods, communication and internet access - all of these things are free. The food even includes a modicum of the extras from Earth that have become part of standard shipments - coffee, cheese, preserved meats and seafood, sweets, sauces. They each get a new mobile computer every time the MA upgrades, for the purpose of doing MA work. They get annual care packages of favored clothing and personal items. They are set for life - that was the deal.

Because the community remains small and close-knit, and is composed of very successful people specifically chosen for their stability, adaptability, and keen minds, the dichotomy of commercial and non-commercial approaches coexists without significant issues arising. A social order takes hold that is centered on the group of people with whom a colonist shares kitchen and bath. Most administration is done via these groups.

Residence Program Round 5

Once the lower tether of the Earth skyhook is in place, it is used to transport most of the round 5 astronauts to the Moon.

Earth Orbital skyhook Completed

The lower tether is built up into a set of ribbons able to accomodate several cars travelling up and down. Cars are able to take payloads of up to 50 metric tons, the foot can berth a ship of up to 200 tons. The upper tether is designed to ferry ships docked at the anchor station up the tether until they are released at the right altitude for their destination. This can only be done one at a time, but ships can still be launched that way up to once a day.

Anshar Station
The anchor station becomes a hub of space activity and starts to grow into a community. It is named after the Sumerian god of the heavens.

Realization of Genuine Space Shuttles
Because the velocity needed to reach the skyhook foot is so much lower, rockets that are fully reusable hundreds of times with minimal repair and maintenance become common, and are able to deliver about 4 times as much payload for each ton of fuel as rockets today.

Cheap Delivery of Asteroid Precious Metals
The platinum-group metals in the anchor asteroid are easily mined and can be loaded onto shuttles returning to the surface. They are alone enough to pay for the cost of building this skyhook complex - especially platinum, palladium, and gold.

The Moon Hosts Several Fleets

Between Anshar lowering the cost to the Moon much further, and a highly automated construction industry on the Moon now able to build almost complete ships of several kinds all on its own, soon a number of entities operate fleets in space. The Moon Agency supervises and regulates them.

Asteroid Fetcher Fleets
Some of these fleets are based on profitable asteroid retrieval. They can be brought in for extraction of their rare platinum-group metals, or so the iron and nickel in them can be used as construction materials in space, or to form the bulk of a space station, or so the water and carbon in them can be used as radiation shielding and life support for space stations or the lunar colonies.

Most fleet ships are in the asteroid retrieval business. Some others are heading out to found bases on other worlds. A few are building free-space colonies. Some are simply exploring.

Moon Agency Fleet
Usually referred to simply as the Moon Fleet or the MAF. Several more souped-up nuclear ships are added, capable of quick rendezvous with anything near cis-lunar space. With quick addition of extra supply pods, they can also set out to rendezvous with ships anywhere in the inner solar system. They expand the capability to mount rescues, and to seize ships.

Lalande City by Robot Magic

A factory that is almost completely automated, using not fixed machinery but robots and rovers able to move anywhere and do everything from prospecting new ore sites to doing quality control on final products, might as well be set the task of doing something that was previously impossible.

So, the first such end-to-end factory to do it all is set to building Lalande City. It starts with the quartz dome over everything, including the towers from floor to dome spaced throughout it, and the the rim structures that connect the dome to the ground and house all sorts of living space and infrastructure. The mines sunk into the central mountains and the lower crater walls, now extensive, are incorporated into the city. For the most part, they are now abandoned, or active mining is so far from the actual crater that it can be isolated from the city and connected to the surrounding factories by other routes.

Robots and automation have become so able that the robotic portion of construction takes only a decade. The robots build the power plants and factories needed to build all the other robots needed to build the factories needed to fabricate all the fused quartz dome sections, all the composite basalt beams and fittings, the basalt cable, and all the myriad other things. They build the robots that assemble the dome support structures and raise the towers, starting from the center mountains and moving outwards, until the towers are complete and a latticework of beams and cables runs between them and down their cores. They make the rim structures the dome edges sit on, and the anchors for the dome cables around the rim and under each tower. They place the quartz segments, seal the joints, and fuse the crater floor into solid stone. They put in endless plumbing, wiring, lighting, heat pumps, fiberoptics, comms systems, sensors, airlocks, recycling systems.

They lay down regolith enriched into fertile soil over almost the entire crater interior, creating terraces and stabilized slopes. They fill the dome with air, fill ponds and artificial creeks with water, moisten the soil, and plant an initial crop of grasses everywhere. They test everything carefully. Then the doors are opened, and the robots have to go find something else to do. The factories they made to do this become part of the construction industry surrounding the crater, the power plants provide the initial power for the city and expanded industry.

The city isn't finished until the end of Round 7. When it is opened, many of the RP residents move out into it, and when private citizen residents begin to arrive, many settle there.

Anshar Station

Microgravity and vacuum manufacturing takes off. Delivery of the output to Earth is cheap enough using the skyhook and automated reentry vehicles for greatly expanded development of the method. Anshar fills with research labs and small specialized factories. The satellite launch and servicing industry is also centered there. Large hotels and recreational facilities spring up.

The asteroid that forms the anchor mass of Anshar is mined for a long time, and its mass replaced as it is taken away to Earth or the Moon mostly with lunar rocks. However there is a market for other kinds of asteroids at Anshar. Several with lots of ice and carbon are sold there, and a few stony ones with a different mix of minerals.

Gagarin Station

The shipyard grows much larger, and some stuff previously done on the surface is now done at the station, using material from asteroids delivered by mining companies as raw materials.

An O'Neill cylinder begins to be extended from either side of the top of the station, oriented north-south. This space is designed to be expanded outwards over time. It too is mostly made with material from arriving asteroids.

Residence Program Rounds 6 and 7

Urban Planning
In anticipation of the day when the public can buy residence in Cernan's Promise, clusters of homes and related facilities are scattered through the full volume of the existing buildings, so that the RP residents aren't isolated from future residents. The 19,200 people in the final RP rounds fill in the lower reaches of the upper gallery, all the lower gallery, and the mega-atrium with clumps of homes. It is still more efficient for groups of people to share facilities with plumbing, meaning kitchens, baths, and washing areas. It has also already become a cultural preference. Arriving astronauts continue to divvy themselves up into groups of 30 and choose spots to build. Such groups become identified as micro-communities and have a rather tribal feel. They are referred to as cells, cliques, or bands.

Duties of Residence
Arriving residents continue to be officially employed by the Moon Agency, but only part time in most cases, usually one or two days a week on average. MA duties for residents narrow to community oriented tasks - developing and raising crops, expanding the set of organisms in the local ecosystem, maintenance and repairs, waste processing, construction of shared facilities for the general population, planning and administration, medical services, monitoring of safety procedures and standards compliance, ongoing research such as medical testing, and everything to do with transport, power, and telecommunications.

Increasingly Complex Economy
Many incoming residents now have arrangements with one of the private companies that have taken over mining, manufacturing, and commercial research, or with the foundations created to administer pure science research facilities such as the telescopes. (Those foundations are in turn administered by the MA, but are mostly independent.) Many others come with their own plans. A large proportion of new residents are now not sponsored by countries, but by universities, foundations, religious institutions, or professional associations. Some of the foundations were specifically created for the purpose of sponsoring RP astronauts, and send them to fulfill a specific agenda.

For instance, some of them acquire permission to erect their own transmitters and become private broadcasters. Some come to play the new sports that have become so popular, turning them semi-pro. Some come to start a new company or to conduct private research. Some are artists or thinkers who use the Moon as a platform to create works of art or spread a message.

A Local Virtual Currency
is created. People have accounts that are files containing records of transactions and a tally of credits, in a distributed system that uses the majority of the computers on the colony to maintain so many encrypted copies of the accounts that it is impossible to falsify transactions (similar to Bitcoin). Sometimes the system is used for creation and witnessing of contracts, from simple wagers and barter exchanges to swapping homes. Nothing under the auspices of the MA uses this system, however. As always, the needs of life are free.

Conflict Resolution
There is enough need for this that there are a small number of people who are sort of police, and something that is sort of like a court. The court handles contract disputes involving the private companies, and increasingly also the contracts created between residents. Occasionally it also handles disturbances such as physical fights, harassment cases, property damage, or theft.

Contract cases are a simple matter of interpreting the contract, and if it was not clear, the matter goes to mediation, and if that does not work, the contract is cancelled and the court rules on any distribution or exchange of property or funds involved. The court doesn't rule on how things are intrepreted, only on whether something is or isn't clear and thus must go to mediation.

Disturbances are always handled by mediation. The involvement of people close to the those involved in the disturbance is heavy. The court provides mediation but the responsibility for resolving problems is placed on the cells of people that share kitchen and bath, or who do a shared activity such as coilgun operation or ecosystem development. In the very rare case of a truly violent act, the resident is expelled from the colony and returns to Earth. This happens only maybe once or twice during the entire Resident Program.

Preserving a Way of Life
All the residents are highly conditioned to a system where you labor for the common good, and receive the needs of life for free. They have lived that way for a few decades before the Residence Program ends. In anticipation of the arrival of residents after that point who go through a much more basic selection process, and in response to dynamics created by the growth of private enterprise, the residents of Cernan's Promise create a constitution. It is not recognized by Earth governments, but all the residents swear to uphold it, and the MA takes it very seriously.

The Constitution
states that all the things they have become accustomed to having for free shall always be free for Moon residents - food, shelter, medical services, electricity, telecommunications, public transport, basic clothing and furnishings. That each micro-community (referred to as a cell, or sometimes a clique) of those who share kitchen and bath shall be responsible for seeing that all their members receive these things in a way sufficient for health, and each such cell shall perform its share of duties for common good that make it possible for these things to be free. That if there is a disagreement about this, mediation may be sought, but members may not be expelled from a cell. Members may only switch cells by mutual agreement. That the contract system that has grown out of the virtual currency shall be the authority for the creation and monitoring of interpersonal commitments that merit a contract - including such things as marriage. That the virtual currency shall be the Moon's only currency, and that it may not be used to charge interest.

Arrival of Children
The first pregnancies occur. After a lot of careful assessment and monitoring, the precautions needed become clear. There is no danger to the embryo for the first 8 weeks or so as long as the mother isn't outside in the radiation of the surface much. The embryo is small enough that gravity plays little role. As the fetus becomes larger there is a greater need for exposure to something close to a full Earth gravity. Pregnancies are completed on Earth or in a few cases on Anshar or Gagarin in areas with simulated gravity of a full 1 g.

The real issue is how children grow. Minor irregularities are detected rather quickly when infants spend more than a day or two in lower gravity, and so they are taken to Earth or another 1g environment. The families return regularly to see how the children fare once they are a little older. Centrifuges suitable for extended use are built so that methods for children to live on the Moon can be developed. While on the Moon the families make use of them so that exercise, diet, and pharmaceutical programs can be slowly developed without the children being exposed to significant risk. Whenever signs of health deviations are detected, the families retire again to a full-gravity location. After about a decade of such monitoring and testing, how to safely raise a child seems clear.

The Space Boom

If not already obvious from some of the grand plans in the previous section, this is the beginning of the Space Boom. Many missions that were previously highly impractical or impossible are now pursued. The possibilities beyond this point are so varied and vast it is hard to make any predictions, other than that everything will change. The scope that Moonwards can cover right now is too small to consider the many projects that would be started at this point. What is here can be considered as a sampling.

An example for Earth orbit: it makes complete sense that a constellation of skyhook complexes in LEO would shortly be erected, of even greater capacity. Satellite orbits and space debris are now controlled such that there is little collision concern. Several skyhook complexes are placed in near-polar orbits, allowing almost the entirety of common satellite work to be moved to the skyhook stations instead - communications, data transmission, broadcasting, earth observation, mapping and tracking services. So, the tether feet are lowered almost to the Karman line, 100 km above the Earth's surface.

An example for deep space: automated ships start to fly out to Saturn's rings, where they capture chunks of ice from the rings in giant bags. Saturn's rings are known to consist of 99% pure water ice, and there is no need to mine it, you just bag a bunch of chunks. The ships run on nuclear engines that use a bit of the water as fuel. They don't even split the water into hydrogen and oxygen to get the high Isp of liquid hydrogen - they just use water. The engines still have an Isp of over 400 seconds, and the ships are cheap to make and hardly need maintenance. Scores of them ply the route between Saturn and Earth, optimizing their trajectories themselves, burning fuel liberally to reduce turnaround time and thus maximize production. The water ice is delivered to the Moon and the space stations, where it is mostly used to create permanent infrastructure: artificial lakes and rivers, transparent shielding over large areas. These ships bring back 100 kilotons of pure water ice on a single run. One arrives in Lunar or Earth orbit every two weeks. For starters...

An example for cis-lunar space: an O'Neill cylinder is now practical, on the scale shown in the classic illustrations, a tiny nation-state unto itself. An asteroid of appropriate size and composition is hauled by a super-mega-fetch ship to L5 and work begins.

Cloud cities above Venus? Colonies on Mars and its moons? Colonies on the terminator of Mercury? On Ceres? On Callisto? Sure! Not all at once, it depends what interests people most, but any of these plans is now feasible.

I recall an old demonstration i once read showing how little people appreciate the scale of space, that talked about how ridiculously long it would take to evacuate the entire population of Earth. I believe there was some movie around then that depicted that - Titan AE, maybe. It would take a while, but without leaning on fusion power, or carbon nanotubes, or even robots as smart as people (though they get fairly close - behaving rather like savants with severe autism), the systems portrayed here could do that. If there was a century of lead time, our entire population could be moved off the Earth to colonies in space.

Transport cont'd - and More

Lots and lots of ships and launchers

Lalande factories now make all the components for complete ships which are assembled at the Gagarin Shipyard. There are many kinds, which may be for passengers or automated, specialized for a variety of environments such as Jupiter's radiation or Mercury's intense sun, and a wide variety of tasks, on a wide range of scales:

And Lots of Other Big Fancy Machines

Very large space solar power installations can now compete with power generation on Earth, or power things in space. A laser for propelling a small vessel to a neighbouring star is built. A few telescopes of truly mind-bending power are built.

Colony Dev cont'd

Lalande City Fills Up

The city is opened for habitation just before the Residence Program is over. When people start to move in, there are some ground rules.

The Great Outdoors of Lalande
The floor of the crater is for orchards and parkland exclusively, except for a few large structures for gatherings - one giant stadium, several smaller arenas, several open-air theaters also usable as forums, and a smattering of plazas. It takes a few years before all that area is planted, but nobody is permitted to build there. Camping is permitted.

And the Great Indoors
The towers, the rim structures, and all the large voids created by mining are used for living, leisure, and work space. The largest beams between towers also have multi-level bridges hanging under them wide enough that they are lined with buildings. People also work in the factories (not as laborers, but as engineers, technicians and administrators) and research facilities surrounding the crater. The tallest towers are 5 km high and house 40,000 people each once fully developed. It takes about 20 years for the city to fill up with people, and when the population reaches its designated limit, the city is home to 1.5 million people. After that property may change hands but no new homes are allowed. Population growth is directed to newer cities.

Local Bounty
The orchards and other crops provide about 90% of the citizens' food. (They could provide all of it. The only reason they don't is because people still want a few choice things that can only come from Earth.) In the ideal, pest-free growing environment, trees bear fruit three times a year. Thanks to breeding and genetic manipulation, the trees grow to gigantic heights. Each harvest is a tremendous amount of food. Only trees, bushes, and vines that produce food crops are grown on the ground (and assorted light undergrowth). Slowly rotating hanging gardens far above produce vegetables, herbs, and medicinals. As the sun during the day is so strong, these gardens are necessary to weaken the light hitting the ground by creating a partly cloudy feeling, while making best use of that energy to produce food. At night the hanging gardens are kept healthy with artificial light. The woody plants on the ground also receive a bit of supplemental light, but they have been bred to handle the long nights. They go into hibernation at these times and are not affected much. Specialized greenhouses near the crater produce grains and legumes at high density using mechanized rotating trays and light distributed through fiberoptic cables. Carbon dioxide levels are maintained at about 2000 parts per million in the city, 5 times current levels on Earth, to aid plant growth.

Animal husbandry is also practised. Bees produce honey, chickens produce eggs (and chicken meat), a number of edible insects and larvae are farmed, as are a few kinds of fish. Farming of iguanas has worked out well. The chickens wander free in the orchards, and have tiny trackers that make locating their nests quite easy. A number of insects have been introduced as pollinators, and also some hummingbirds and bats. There are a variety of reptiles and birds. There were some problems with population explosions, and so cats are introduced. Dogs, however, have no role in the ecosystem. Some are brought as pets but they are not permitted to reproduce. Other animals that have been sterilized are permitted for study or as pets. New species are only introduced after much study. The addition of many things, such as small fast-breeding mammals or very large animals, is considered unwise. Goats and sheep are added in small numbers. Extensive tracking is done on animal populations and anything large and long-lived enough to have a pinhead-sized tracker, has one.

Environmental Control
The crater has several tiny lakes, a few artificial creeks, and a complex system of aquariums for aquaculture. There is a sort of suspended sprinkler system that is a bit like rain that falls in small patches. Very large lightweight reflectors are used to increase sunlight levels near dawn and dusk, and reduce them at noon. Temperature regulation is done mostly by pumping heat into the ground and some use of radiators. Power continues to be mostly TESS plants, with some nuclear generators mixed in, and perhaps some solar power beamed from the skyhooks.

Socio-Economic Dev cont'd

A Truly Unique Society

When residence is opened to any applicant, there is a flood of interest. The MA, and the Moon's general population, are leery of how this will affect their cozy, cerebral society. The MA decides to continue to impose some conditions on who qualifies, and creates an application structure that inherently favors certain qualities. Principally, they make it so long and involved that it requires considerable patience, concentration, and persistence to complete it. The MA also decides to accept only 15,000 applicants a year for the first 5 years, and then raise the number to 50,000 for 5 years, and then to 100,000 or 10% of the Moon's total population, whichever is more. There continue to be many more applicants than spaces for decades. Some applicants pay the fee by making agreements to do work for some entity when they arrive.

A few spots are handed out by lottery, after which a winner need only comply with the basic qualifications of a clean criminal record and good physical health. They must also pay the fee.

Children on the Moon

It starts being possible to raise children in Lalande City from a younger and younger age, if a program of exercise is followed and some highly targeted hormonal drugs are used at certain ages. Once a child is able to be physically active in an independent way, they can live on the Moon - usually starting around age 3. Then they are able to do the important exercises needed to maintain health. Exercise programs are designed for children that are more enjoyable for them and tailored to their needs, and there are many places in the colony where they can do them together, in classes with teachers. They need more time in higher simulated gravity, and very spacious centrifuges are created for them. It isn't easy or pleasant to move around a lot in these centrifuges. You can stand and move around, helped by the slanted floors and plenty of railings, but you are always being pulled in two directions - 1 g outwards and 1/6th g downwards. Children are given quiet things to do when they are there, or nap, or sometimes sleep overnight there.

Prioritizing Children
For a long time children continue to be uncommon enough that they are really very pampered and are cared for in a highly communal way. When couples return to their lunar homes with their toddlers, their cliques become an enthusiastic band of uncles, aunts, and grandparents. The average age on the Moon at the end of the RP is mid-50s. The dearth of children is widely seen by colonists as the city's greatest flaw. Even a decade after settlement is opened up, many bands don't even have one child in their midst. Children can wander around freely because everyone looks out for them. The MA begins favoring settlers with plans to have children.

Gagarin's Family Hub
The lunar population would like families to be able to stay, through pregnancy and their children's infancy, without the huge interruption to community life caused by leaving for Earth until their child is 3. They would like more children around, and want to make that as easy as possible for people. So an installation is created on Gagarin Station for couples who are pregnant or have infants. Gagarin already has hotels and installations on spinning levels that simulate Earth gravity, but a new one is made that caters purely to these families and is specialized for their needs. It is large enough to accomodate hundreds of young families, and is designed to be extended in phases to handle tens of thousands. It is basically an O'Niell cylinder built onto the top of Gagarin (in two balanced halves so it doesn't create torque on the station).

By combining staying on this station with use of the centrifuges when they visit Lalande, couple are able to maintain ties and continue working with much less interruption. Many couples adopt this approach, some couples prefer to go to Earth through this period.

Utopia Under Glass?
Because the populations remains highly selected for qualities valued by the astronauts of the RP, its strong inclination towards a communal approach to life becomes ever more ingrained. The environment is almost completely controlled, there has always been plenty of money flowing to keep the vested interests back on Earth happy, the population very heavily favors pursuit of knowledge over wealth, and there are absolutely no economic pressures on anyone - their needs are all looked after.

All this, and the approach to currency, contracts, and disputes, and the cellular structure of the society, has prevented authority from becoming concentrated. People identify very strongly with their cliques, and the cliques protect their members energetically, so there never appears any unprotected underclass, or any privileged overclass. The population doesn't think much about self-determination, because there is no conflict with Earth. Earth governments are fine with them administering their own affairs, as there is plenty of room for companies to spring up and grow, most research and technical innovation is shared thanks to long-standing open-source policies, and the MA has done a good job making sure all business operations have access to the power, telecoms, transport, and other infrastructure they need.

Of course, something has to disturb this Shangri-La. Perhaps it should be the creation of another city, built by a private real-estate enterprise. The MA has been allowed to control Lalande City, Inukshuk, and the space stations because they are part of the original international deal that got the Moon settled. But now nations and groups want to strike out on their own and create something different. One of the first such enterprises builds a Las Vegas in space that violates most of Lalande City's ideals.