Author Topic: Critical Lunar Industrial Infrastructure  (Read 25484 times)

Offline wingod

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1305
  • Liked: 0
  • Likes Given: 0
Critical Lunar Industrial Infrastructure
« on: 03/11/2008 05:25 PM »
I have been thinking a lot about what it would take as a minimal set of hardware to enable the industrial development of lunar resources.  Here are a few thoughts.  What  are yours?

1. Power

Without energy nothing else is possible, therefore it is the number 1 priority.  However, sending up powerlanders from the Earth at $400M a pop is not cost effective in the long term.  What would be needed to jump start in-situ solar production?

We do start out with 1.21 megawatts of electrical power (delivered as 480 volt three phase power) and then whatever solar thermal we can generate.  That is the baseline.

2. Machinery

What is the minimal complement of machine tools necessary to bootstrap lunar industry?  This would go from very minimal (metal forming, heating, melting, pouring) in order to build structures from flat plates to more complex machinery that could build something like rover frames, pressure fed engines (including injectors).  Would that be enough?  What else would be needed.

3. Metallurgy

Companion to machinery is metallurgy.  What metals can we produce in quantity and what alloys are possible on the Moon with ISRU resources or with minimal additives from the Earth?  We know that we can get Magnesium, Iron, Silicon, and Aluminum directly from any regolith.  We can also get Nickel and cobalt in large quantities from Ni-Fe fines in the regolith.  Titanium from the Mare region is another really interesting possibility but implies a lot more infrastructure than what is needed at the poles alone.

Bottom line is that we need metallurgy experts to chime in here.

This is a start as this is the fundamentals.

4. buildings.  We are going to have to build buildings to house this machinery and to do work in a short sleeve environment.  That has many implications as well.  It is my estimate that we need a minimum of 20,000 ft/sq to begin manufacturing with an industrial sized airlock.

What else and how does it move forward?

Ideas?



Offline sandrot

  • Extreme Veteran
  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 749
  • Motown
  • Liked: 5
  • Likes Given: 5
Re: Critical Lunar Industrial Infrastructure
« Reply #1 on: 03/11/2008 06:31 PM »
Why do you start with solar power? That might be your first show stopper.
"Paper planes do fly much better than paper spacecrafts."

Offline A_M_Swallow

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8547
  • South coast of England
  • Liked: 365
  • Likes Given: 158
Re: Critical Lunar Industrial Infrastructure
« Reply #2 on: 03/11/2008 06:40 PM »
The machines should be designed to be general purpose.  Transport costs are enormous, so one 1.5mT machine able to make several things is better than two 1 mT machines.

One to think about is are desktop fabricators similar to this one.
http://technology.newscientist.com/article/dn10922

Even if it cannot make parts out of iron, it can make the mould into which the iron is cast.

Offline alexterrell

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1642
  • Germany
  • Liked: 94
  • Likes Given: 67
RE: Critical Lunar Industrial Infrastructure
« Reply #3 on: 03/11/2008 07:58 PM »

Good questions.
1. Power: I just started a thread under general on using the POWOW concept for the moon. The way I see it is that 10 tons at L1 can deliver 200KWe 24/7 (or is that 600/12?) to the lunar base. So for the launch effort of a single lunar mission, you could probably deliver 1MWe. Solar collectors on "hangers" and buildings could deliver a few hundred KW at the right time of day.

2. First and foremost:
- Diggers. These will be needed to bury/half bury habitats and mine areas. NASA should start a competition now to design a digger that can work 24/7 under remote control on the lunar surface. Electric joints? Li-ion or fuel cells? Recharging processes? Packaging?
- General Purpose Robots. These would be remote controlled and able to undertake simple operations on the lunar surface. They should be as dextrous as an astronaut wearing gloves.

3. Then, brick/glass sintering, ice processing (assuming a polar base), and volatiles storage. Then iron extraction. Then finally aluminium.  

4. First buildings need to be:
- Tents to house reusable landers and protect them from extreme heat and micro-meteorites.
- A buried hab module
- Workshops. I was thinking something that could be landed on one mission, with two inflatable airlocks that form pressurisable work areas. This would provide a shirt sleeve repair environment.

 

Given how tricky it is to send humans, all of the above should be shipped out before humans arrive.

How does it progress?

1. Establish base and start water mining

2. Start ore processing and using resusable landers fueled on the lunar surface.

3. Expand the base and build an electromagnetic catapult

4. Exponentially expand the base. Exported lunar material is used to expand the L1 solar base which expands the power available to the base which expands the base operations and range of exports.

5. Build secondary bases and colonisation.

 


 

 


Offline n0madik1

  • Member
  • Posts: 17
  • Liked: 0
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Critical Lunar Industrial Infrastructure
« Reply #4 on: 03/11/2008 09:01 PM »
I think the transportation infrastructure needs to be addressed from the very beginning as well.

Since the success seems to hinge on the availability of lunar ice-water, the Malapert Mt. area seems to be the best area to begin this.  It seems a 'boot-strap' approach is the most viable one here, and this is the place to hedge one's bets.  Lots of available sunlight, and some craters in permanent shadow that are worth exploring.

The problem here is location (both an asset and liability) in light of transportation requirements.  Circumpolar orbits are a bit more difficult than equatorial ones.  I think a rotovator in this context is the best way to go (though still unproven).


Offline Big Al

  • Member
  • Posts: 97
  • Liked: 5
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Critical Lunar Industrial Infrastructure
« Reply #5 on: 03/11/2008 10:08 PM »
In starting out on this project, I would think NASA would want to send a series of robotic “factories” to the moon to test out different processes for lunar mining. I haven’t seen anything in the way of such a probe mentions, but I would think it would be high on their propriety list. It is an important pathfinder technology for a solid manned lunar program.

Under the present lunar exploration program, what are the stated objectives as far as manned lunar exploration? It has occured to me that there needs to be a lot of robotic help in any manned exploration effort, but I haven’t seen a document that outlines the over all plan for our present lunar exploration effort.

Offline wingod

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1305
  • Liked: 0
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Critical Lunar Industrial Infrastructure
« Reply #6 on: 03/11/2008 10:14 PM »
Quote
sandrot - 11/3/2008  2:31 PM

Why do you start with solar power? That might be your first show stopper.

Solar power on the Moon (assuming a lunar polar location where there is 100% sunlight) is actually a no brainer.



Offline wingod

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1305
  • Liked: 0
  • Likes Given: 0
RE: Critical Lunar Industrial Infrastructure
« Reply #7 on: 03/11/2008 10:27 PM »
Quote
alexterrell - 11/3/2008  3:58 PM

Good questions.
1. Power: I just started a thread under general on using the POWOW concept for the moon. The way I see it is that 10 tons at L1 can deliver 200KWe 24/7 (or is that 600/12?) to the lunar base. So for the launch effort of a single lunar mission, you could probably deliver 1MWe. Solar collectors on "hangers" and buildings could deliver a few hundred KW at the right time of day.

2. First and foremost:
- Diggers. These will be needed to bury/half bury habitats and mine areas. NASA should start a competition now to design a digger that can work 24/7 under remote control on the lunar surface. Electric joints? Li-ion or fuel cells? Recharging processes? Packaging?
- General Purpose Robots. These would be remote controlled and able to undertake simple operations on the lunar surface. They should be as dextrous as an astronaut wearing gloves.

3. Then, brick/glass sintering, ice processing (assuming a polar base), and volatiles storage. Then iron extraction. Then finally aluminium.  

4. First buildings need to be:
- Tents to house reusable landers and protect them from extreme heat and micro-meteorites.
- A buried hab module
- Workshops. I was thinking something that could be landed on one mission, with two inflatable

Good questions.
1. Power: I just started a thread under general on using the POWOW concept for the moon. The way I see it is that 10 tons at L1 can deliver 200KWe 24/7 (or is that 600/12?) to the lunar base. So for the launch effort of a single manned mission, you could probably deliver 1GW. Solar collectors on "hangers" and buildings could deliver a few hundred KW at the right time of day.

2. First and foremost:
- Diggers. These will be needed to bury habitats and mine areas. NASA should start a competition now to design a digger that can work 24/7 under remote control on the lunar surface. Electric joints? Li-ion or fuel cells? Recharging processes? Packaging?
- General Purpose Robots. These would be remote controlled and able to undertake simple operations on the lunar surface. They should be as dextrous as an astronaut wearing gloves.

3. Then, brick/glass sintering (how about using lego style connection techniques), ice processing (assuming a polar base), and volatiles storage. Then iron extraction. Then finally aluminium.  

4. First buildings need to be:
- Tents to house reusable landers and protect them from extreme heat and micro-meteorites.
- A buried hab module, or a half buried module with lunar soil between the inner and outer shell.
- Workshops. I was thinking something that could be landed in one mission, with large inflatable airlocks that form pressurisable work areas. This would provide a shirt sleeve repair environment.

 

Given how tricky it is to send humans, all of the above should be shipped out before humans arrive.

How does it progress?

1. Establish base and start water mining

2. Start ore processing and using resusable landers fueled on the lunar surface.

3. Expand the base and build an electromagnetic catapult

4. Exponentially expand the base. Exported lunar material is used to expand the L1 solar base which expands the power available to the base which expands the base operations and range of exports.

5. Build secondary bases and colonisation.

 


 

 


Unless Spudis is right and there is a LOT of water, I do not think that we want to count on it.  Also, mining water at 35 degrees kelvin in the dark is a lot harder than anyone is currently thinking.  I am willing to forego it entirely, at least in the beginning.

Also, I do agree that robotics and regolith moving machinery is key in the early days as well.

The thermal environment at the lunar poles is benign enough to not worry too much about it.  

I do agree with a hab module, partially or fully buried.  However, I don't want to send up a lot of stuff that can be fabricated on the Moon, such as workshops.  The ISRU system must be able to create metals and with the metals we can make structures.  Micrometeorites are not a big deal for less than one year stays.

You are NOT going to deliver anywhere near a GW on a single launch or even a megawatt.

Solar collectors on buildings that are not sun pointing are useless in the polar regions due to the angles involved.  I do agree with brick sintering as well as a means to sinter a road as developed by Dr. Larry Taylor and his cohorts.

The next building has to be able to have an atmosphere to grow food as well.

Just some thoughts, good thinking everyone so far.





Offline wingod

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1305
  • Liked: 0
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Critical Lunar Industrial Infrastructure
« Reply #8 on: 03/11/2008 10:27 PM »
Quote
Big Al - 11/3/2008  6:08 PM

In starting out on this project, I would think NASA would want to send a series of robotic “factories” to the moon to test out different processes for lunar mining. I haven’t seen anything in the way of such a probe mentions, but I would think it would be high on their propriety list. It is an important pathfinder technology for a solid manned lunar program.

Under the present lunar exploration program, what are the stated objectives as far as manned lunar exploration? It has occured to me that there needs to be a lot of robotic help in any manned exploration effort, but I haven’t seen a document that outlines the over all plan for our present lunar exploration effort.

LPRP program could do this.



Offline A_M_Swallow

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8547
  • South coast of England
  • Liked: 365
  • Likes Given: 158
Re: Critical Lunar Industrial Infrastructure
« Reply #9 on: 03/12/2008 03:05 AM »
Oxygen will be valuable for both breathing and as a propellant when people arrive so the metal extraction facilities should also try to extract oxygen.

Offline wingod

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1305
  • Liked: 0
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Critical Lunar Industrial Infrastructure
« Reply #10 on: 03/12/2008 03:31 AM »
Quote
A_M_Swallow - 11/3/2008  11:05 PM

Oxygen will be valuable for both breathing and as a propellant when people arrive so the metal extraction facilities should also try to extract oxygen.

Since all metals on the Moon are in solution with oxygen, this is assumed.



Offline sandrot

  • Extreme Veteran
  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 749
  • Motown
  • Liked: 5
  • Likes Given: 5
Re: Critical Lunar Industrial Infrastructure
« Reply #11 on: 03/12/2008 03:37 AM »
Quote
wingod - 11/3/2008  7:14 PM

Quote
sandrot - 11/3/2008  2:31 PM

Why do you start with solar power? That might be your first show stopper.

Solar power on the Moon (assuming a lunar polar location where there is 100% sunlight) is actually a no brainer.



Polar terrain is more rugged, not so easy to go around. Do you assume you land and use minerals in the terrain just around you?

Polar location assumes vertically mounted solar panels. And you need to perch them on the rim of a  properly exposed crater (peak of eternal light).
"Paper planes do fly much better than paper spacecrafts."

Offline sandrot

  • Extreme Veteran
  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 749
  • Motown
  • Liked: 5
  • Likes Given: 5
Re: Critical Lunar Industrial Infrastructure
« Reply #12 on: 03/12/2008 03:47 AM »
To complete my previous post...

I don't see rovers going around scouting for minerals on solar power at the poles.

It is much better to get power from a nuclear reactor of some kind (see also related threads in Advanced Concepts). At least we can go further away from the poles. And, if you're not at the poles for the water, what's the point of being there? Sun tan? :cool:
"Paper planes do fly much better than paper spacecrafts."

Offline A_M_Swallow

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8547
  • South coast of England
  • Liked: 365
  • Likes Given: 158
Re: Critical Lunar Industrial Infrastructure
« Reply #13 on: 03/12/2008 04:49 AM »
Quote
wingod - 12/3/2008  5:31 AM

Quote
A_M_Swallow - 11/3/2008  11:05 PM

Oxygen will be valuable for both breathing and as a propellant when people arrive so the metal extraction facilities should also try to extract oxygen.

Since all metals on the Moon are in solution with oxygen, this is assumed.

Many methods of extracting metals work by oxidising the impurities.  Unless oxygen extraction is explicitly specified as a requirement it could easily be optimised out.

The blast in a blast furnace is an example of oxygen contamination.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/chemistry/usefulproductsrocks/iron_blastfurnacerev3.shtml

The moon is very short of carbon so plastic objects could be replaced by locally made ones made out of silicon including fibre glass.

Offline alexterrell

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1642
  • Germany
  • Liked: 94
  • Likes Given: 67
RE: Critical Lunar Industrial Infrastructure
« Reply #14 on: 03/12/2008 08:05 AM »
Quote
wingod - 11/3/2008  6:27 PM

Unless Spudis is right and there is a LOT of water, I do not think that we want to count on it.  Also, mining water at 35 degrees kelvin in the dark is a lot harder than anyone is currently thinking.  I am willing to forego it entirely, at least in the beginning.

Also, I do agree that robotics and regolith moving machinery is key in the early days as well.

The thermal environment at the lunar poles is benign enough to not worry too much about it.  

I do agree with a hab module, partially or fully buried.  However, I don't want to send up a lot of stuff that can be fabricated on the Moon, such as workshops.  The ISRU system must be able to create metals and with the metals we can make structures.  Micrometeorites are not a big deal for less than one year stays.

You are NOT going to deliver anywhere near a GW on a single launch or even a megawatt.

Solar collectors on buildings that are not sun pointing are useless in the polar regions due to the angles involved.  I do agree with brick sintering as well as a means to sinter a road as developed by Dr. Larry Taylor and his cohorts.

The next building has to be able to have an atmosphere to grow food as well.

Just some thoughts, good thinking everyone so far.



Clearly, identifying how much water there is should be the focus of exploration from ASAP till 2015. As for mining it: Light is not an issue if electricity is available. The diggers need to be designed to work at 30K. The tents are designed to house reusable landers whilst not being used. Tent's don't weigh much but help with thermal equilibrium. They can also pop out of a bag.

As for the workshop, you have a chicken and egg dilemma. I don't think you can build in-situ a workshop without good working machinery. You can't have that without a workshop. Hence a small workshop, with inflatable working areas to start.

There's no single ISRU system. You start with mining, and end up with metal fabrication. Building the steps on the way will take a long time.

Solar cells can be positioned in space at 10 tons / MW. The only problem is unpacking them. I'd look at inflatable tubes for deployment - the bouncy castle approach.

Solar collectors on buildings are worthwhile if you cover them with thin film solar material. Even if their utilisation is 20% it makes sense. At the poles, it's the walls, not the roofs you cover.

Offline alexterrell

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1642
  • Germany
  • Liked: 94
  • Likes Given: 67
Re: Critical Lunar Industrial Infrastructure
« Reply #15 on: 03/12/2008 08:41 AM »

Online Kaputnik

  • Extreme Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2831
  • Liked: 475
  • Likes Given: 452
Re: Critical Lunar Industrial Infrastructure
« Reply #16 on: 03/12/2008 10:23 AM »
I'm just trying to picture life at the lunar poles. The sun will always be very low, about 90-degrees. That means that any building, hab, rover, etc, will cast a shadow that goes on forever, presumably. I'd love to hear the arguments that will happen when someone parks their rover in the wrong place!
The other thing that comes to mind is that the sun will always be in your eyes. I live quite far north (but nowhere near 90-degrees!) and at this time of year the sun is right in my eyes on the way home from work. It's bloomin' annoying!
But I'm sure NASA have thought of all of this.
Waiting for joy and raptor

Offline sandrot

  • Extreme Veteran
  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 749
  • Motown
  • Liked: 5
  • Likes Given: 5
RE: Critical Lunar Industrial Infrastructure
« Reply #17 on: 03/12/2008 12:46 PM »
Quote
alexterrell - 12/3/2008  5:05 AM

[...]

Solar cells can be positioned in space at 10 tons / MW. The only problem is unpacking them. I'd look at inflatable tubes for deployment - the bouncy castle approach.

[...]


For the ISS we are at 15 tons / 65kW. Please recheck your numbers.
"Paper planes do fly much better than paper spacecrafts."

Offline alexterrell

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1642
  • Germany
  • Liked: 94
  • Likes Given: 67
RE: Critical Lunar Industrial Infrastructure
« Reply #18 on: 03/12/2008 02:41 PM »
Quote
sandrot - 12/3/2008  8:46 AM

Quote
alexterrell - 12/3/2008  5:05 AM

[...]

Solar cells can be positioned in space at 10 tons / MW. The only problem is unpacking them. I'd look at inflatable tubes for deployment - the bouncy castle approach.

[...]


For the ISS we are at 15 tons / 65kW. Please recheck your numbers.

ISS (4.3 W/kg) is very low indeed. The figure I'm looking for is 10t/MW = 100 W/kg.

http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/Xplore/login.jsp?url=/iel5/9136/28987/01305402.pdf = 250W / kg.

This 2002 article from ESa expects 400W / kg. http://www.esa.int/esaCP/ESA2CKS162D_FeatureWeek_2.html

The POWOW concept http://www.aec-able.com/corpinfo/Resources/IAF%202000POWOW.pdf is now a few years old and gives 449KW from a 2488kg panel, or about 200W/kg

http://www.entechsolar.com/STAIF04.pdf gives a state of play. Figure 11 shows we're already above 100W/kg.

These papers were all done before nano solar.

And somewhere, but I can't find the link, there's an ESA photograph of a ~20m wide solar sheet, which looks as thin as foil.

Not sure about the weight of the lasers and ion engine. And as I said, the challenge is unpacking it.



Offline sandrot

  • Extreme Veteran
  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 749
  • Motown
  • Liked: 5
  • Likes Given: 5
Re: Critical Lunar Industrial Infrastructure
« Reply #19 on: 03/12/2008 03:29 PM »
No, the challenge is to make it stand. You're talking about a football field worth of solar panels vertically installed on the rim of a crater, with a SARJ equivalent to follow the 28 days lunar revolution.

You also need to see how thin film behave in space. The ESA article expresses interest in thin film but announces projects to test other kinds of solar cells.

Solar is not viable for rovers operating at the poles as humorously expressed by Kaputnik.

"Paper planes do fly much better than paper spacecrafts."

Tags: