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Colonizing Moon
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Summary
Since the beginning of time man has been fascinated by the moon. Beginning with strong initiatives formulated by the Bush government, NASA has committed itself to returning man to moon by as early as 2017. The most challenging part of this technologically new and untested mission is building a permanent lunar settlement and learning to live in the most difficult environment that man has ever faced. The idea is about being able to live and work there for increasingly extended periods of time. The new program is forcing scientists to face new series of problems. One of the most important of these challenges is rocket design. A permanent lunar base requires a lot more equipment than conventional lunar missions like Apollo missions in 1960's and 1970's. NASA is hence designing two spacecrafts for one such lunar trip. It plans to launch one mission that carries required cargo from the earth and subsequently another mission aimed at carrying the crew. To break out from the earth's gravitational pull, these huge rockets are required to accelerate at over 24,000 miles an hour, which sums up to around 23 times the speed of sound! Several days later these enormous craft will rendezvous in space and perform an extraordinarily intricate maneuver as they line up with only centimeters of tolerance and dock. The lander will carry everything for the crew to survive including oxygen, water and power supply. The first return journey will cost around 100 billion dollars. It could cost even more, but NASA is relying on some technologies developed back in 1960's. In Arizona desert, NASA is testing a new generation of space suits specifically designed for long term missions. During the Apollo program, the space suits restricted the astronauts for not more than six hours outside the spacecraft, which could be considered too short duration for this mission. Sixty feet below the Gulf of Mexico, NASA has built a simulation of a lunar habitat called Nemo, where scientists are trying to simulate a very alien or an unfamiliar environment that lunar inhabitants would likely face. Astronauts are using weighted back packs to simulate working in 1/6th of gravity. Nemo has shown that the problems of reduced gravity can be overcome. According to Dr. Larry Clark, an engineer from Lockheed Martin, there are lots of things that can be exploited on the moon. The surface of the moon is covered with metal oxides; soils of the moon are 40% of oxygen by weight, there are abundant other resources like nitrogen and hydrogen. Larry Clark spent many years studying the chemical composition of lunar rocks. He bought large quantities of artificial moon dust and compressed it in a furnace and then subjected to heating; slowly by a process of trial and error he found that at 800 degrees centigrade, the experiment resulted in water, thereby working out a process of manufacturing water from moon dust. With unlimited supplies of water, breathable oxygen can also be manufactured. Suddenly, the dream of working and living on moon seemed to become within the reach of the human mind.
Keywords: lunar colonization, moon colonization, lunar colonies, Dr. Larry Clark, Lockheed Martin, lunar missions, ISRO, ESA, lunar base, space suits, lunar settlement, Nemo, lunar habitat, Apollo, space program, moon rock
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