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 justfied 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, this 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 frequent. Long delays due to the time it takes to prepare and launch rockets slow 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 thanks to proper design here.

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.

First Asteroid Retrieval Mission
Ion Drive Asteroid Retrieval Ship
Nuclear Thermal Shuttles
Pod ship from Low Earth Orbit to Medium Lunar Orbit
Expansion of the International Space Station

We shall assume the ISS becomes a public-private entity under some arrangement and continues to fly. To handle the LEO end of missions from here out to RP round 5, it needs a lot of upgrading.

The cargo pods are delivered by reusable upper stages that get them to the mooring area and then return to Earth, so no berths for them are needed.

10 to 15 missions to the Moon occur during this phase. The pod ship and nuclear shuttle both can take a maximum payload of 40 tons. The payload landed on the Moon is 300 tons or more.

Robot and Rover Test Missions

These can't start until the pod ship and shuttle are running and have delivered their first payload to the site of the future base. The goal would be to have robotic machinery on the surface capable of performing the complex work of construction and volatile extraction by the time the asteroid for the first skyhook arrives in orbit.

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.

Many questions of jurisdiction, ownership, information sharing, and legal responsibility would need to be settled. Again the agreements covering the ISS are the model that would need to be built on.

A shift to an open-source model regarding the technology developed for the project could reduce tensions on several of those issues. The application of international law might help in questions of administration.

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 would only slowly need to grow, and be tested many times before issues of serious consequence needed to be settled.

For this reason, such an endeavor provides the ideal way to develop the broad international collaboration needed to address long-term peace and prosperity on Earth.

Vertical Skyhook Construction in Polar Orbit
A Bigger Asteroid Fetcher

The asteroid retrieval ship remains connected to the anchor asteroid at first, then it is taken apart and upgraded. It gets bigger engines and larger solar panels, its asteroid bagging equipment is improved. While work on the skyhook proceeds, it is sent out again to get a larger asteroid of 25 kilotons.

Cargo runs between LEO and the polar skyhook now occur at every opportunity: every 2 weeks, 26 per year.

Completion of First Hab
Sagan Space Station

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:

$250,000
. 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.