One of these days I need to get around to doing that update

One of my recent commenters was asking a bit about my Prometheus Downport Project, which was a project I started to figure out how to build a commercial lunar settlement. Part of the goal was to figure out how to actually get from where I am right now to where I want to be. Far too many plans have huge old “and a miracle occurs here” steps. The PDP was no exception to the rule, but over the years since then, I’ve been trying to find actual concrete ways to proceed.

I’d just link to the original article itself, but unfortunately, when my school website was finally taken down a few months back, they took that down with it. Carl, the commenter who first asked, was able to find a link on the Way Back Machine, and with a bit of digging, I found an even more recent version, which you can view here.

Looking back, I realize the last time I did a full update was in July of 2000. Although I had an engineering degree by that point, I was only 19, so you should take a lot of my bombast with the appropriate sized grain of salt. I’ve done a bit more baking on those half-baked thoughts since then, but never have had the time to go back and formalize all the changes into something concrete. A big part of why I haven’t sunk much time into it recently (other than not having much time to sink at all) has been my continually evolving opinions about the transportation architecture, and how best to approach the financing/marketting parts of the plan. The biggest changes in my approach to the transportation question are the fact that I now prefer vehicles that carry at least two people, instead of just one, the fact that I’m no longer all that afraid of reusability or on-orbit propellant transfer, and the fact that there are now potential launchers around the corner like Falcon IX that are substantially better than what I had assumed for the original baseline.

But even though a lot of it is obsolete, there is also a decent amount of good discussion in there in case you haven’t read it already.

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Jonathan Goff

Jonathan Goff

President/CEO at Altius Space Machines
Jonathan Goff is a space technologist, inventor, and serial space entrepreneur who created the Selenian Boondocks blog. Jon was a co-founder of Masten Space Systems, and is the founder and CEO of Altius Space Machines, a space robotics startup in Broomfield, CO. His family includes his wife, Tiffany, and five boys: Jarom (deceased), Jonathan, James, Peter, and Andrew. Jon has a BS in Manufacturing Engineering (1999) and an MS in Mechanical Engineering (2007) from Brigham Young University, and served an LDS proselytizing mission in Olongapo, Philippines from 2000-2002.
Jonathan Goff

About Jonathan Goff

Jonathan Goff is a space technologist, inventor, and serial space entrepreneur who created the Selenian Boondocks blog. Jon was a co-founder of Masten Space Systems, and is the founder and CEO of Altius Space Machines, a space robotics startup in Broomfield, CO. His family includes his wife, Tiffany, and five boys: Jarom (deceased), Jonathan, James, Peter, and Andrew. Jon has a BS in Manufacturing Engineering (1999) and an MS in Mechanical Engineering (2007) from Brigham Young University, and served an LDS proselytizing mission in Olongapo, Philippines from 2000-2002.
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2 Responses to One of these days I need to get around to doing that update

  1. Anonymous says:

    Very cool set of plans. The tunnelling idea sounds interesting; I haven’t heard of air/vibratory drill tools before.

    The ideas I’ve been kicking around so far involve dropping a couple of robot ‘bulldozers’ first. These scout around, find the best spot, then start clearing a space for the habitat to land. The bulldozers have masts with cameras and laser designators; the lasers being used to point out a landing spot when future landers arrive. (Besides, creative geeks may be able to figure out useful things to do when you can ‘point out’ a target to another semi-autonomous tool).

    The initial habitat is along the lines of the ‘hostel’ idea discussed in the Moon Miner’s Manifesto; just being a fairly dumb inflatable living/working space. It inflates itself robotically, and the robots cover it with regolith once it’s deployed. The pressurized lander (carrying the crew) comes along next, hooks up to it, and provides life support functionality.

    I’m operating under the assumption here that it’ll be cheapest to send robots to do the initial pathfinding heavy labor, and then send humans to occupy the space and do the fine work.

    I’ve got some ideas for a combined wheelset/powerpack ‘motive module’ which can be combined with various frames and attachments to make bulldozers, open ‘trucks’, tractors, pressurized rovers, cranes of various sizes, ‘motorcycles’, etc. In my copious spare time I might make some CAD drawings; but I’m fairly occupied right now with moving to New Hampshire as part of the Free State Project. 🙂

    What I really need to do is make a wiki somewhere and put my notes and ideas up for people to criticize and make suggestions.
    –Carl.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The nuclear option always worried me a bit. Low cost development needs to avoid bureaucratic constraints as much as possible.

    If the habitat excavating and sealing system works then a tunnel can be used for thermal energy storage. A quick check, a pressurized volume with a 1000 ton of regolith is probably good for 100kW average power through the lunar night, with higher peak outputs as required. On first arrival one might use an old rocket tank buried and filled with regolith.

    A couple of thousand square meter solar concentrator does not seem particularly difficult on the Lunar surface and the nuclear option will require radiators anyway – perhaps of inflated tube plastic sheet. A closed cycle gas turbine might be used and the thermal energy storage system might serve for regolith roasting with the extraction of some volatiles. Maybe there are various furnace type materials operations that this can be combined with.

    It seems to me that a solar concentrator and a pressurised tunnel of regolith can come cheaper and easier than a nuclear power. It can also be incrementally increased and there are no real scale limitations. This always seemed like the best approach to Lunar power to me – better even than SPSs. It suits the DIY settler and in time could be mostly locally made on the moon.

    Pete.

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