Construction of the Space Colony: Challenges

1256 words (5 pages) Essay in Sciences

23/07/18 Sciences Reference this

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The major problem regarding such a big and aspiring project is trying to reflect the imagined side of it into reality. Until now, this problem has been a rather unsolvable one, but with the modern day possibility of colonizing close to Earth celestial entities, like the Moon, and to rapidly create parts with 3D printers, it is possible to overcome it.

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The construction of the space colony has been a rather debated dilemma, being a very sensible issue, which regards huge amounts of funding and involvement. There have been issued 3 construction plans, which we will analyze and show the disadvantages of two of them, and the perks of the one I have chosen:

1. Terrestrial construction – before the rapid development of space shuttles and the advanced repairing of satellites in space (a rather common action in modern times), the only solution, which seemed possible for the construction of such a project was building it as a whole on Earth. Even if it were more facile and faster regarding the actual construction process, shipping it on the orbit would be an impossible action. That amount of mass requires the usage of fuel of almost 4800 launchings, which will only increase the weight of the station and reduce the force to mass ratio of the engines used. Also, in order to generate that amount of force, to defy the gravitational pull, it would be required an incredible amount of energy, which is the equivalent of a handful of atomic detonations. The consequences for the environment would be horrific, if we succeed in lifting the station of the Earth, a very doubtful presumption.

2. Outer-space construction – the safest bet for the construction plan of the station was, until now, an extra planetary building area. After realizing the fact that it would be impossible for any human engine to lift the station from Earth, it became clearly that, in order to have a functional construction plan, the station must be built on an orbit of our planet. With the present development of orbiting satellite repairs, the building of such an immense project seems actually achievable. The problem regarding this solution is represented by the fact that, besides the great difficulty of building such a complex architectural creation in a harsh, unfriendly environment, the actual process of the construction would take a huge amount of time to be accomplished. Also, the weak point of outer-space construction is the fact that it depends on terrestrial resources and on shipments from Earth. Because of the fact that a normal shuttle can normally carry, besides the crew, a weight of a satellite, there would be required over 6000 flights in order to bring all the materials and tools in outer-space. A normal ship can be used for about 10 space missions, so it would also require over 600 space shuttles. By adding the whole process of building and shipping, including the price of the materials that are required to complete the station, which will substantially diminish the Earth resources and will become more expensive by every transport, it has been estimated that the total cost of the station would be of 6023 trillion dollars, a sum which does not exist in the whole modern day economic system.

3. Moon construction – after identifying the problems that outer-space construction has, mostly the fact that it does not present reliability, the Carpathia team decided that the best answer for the construction problem would be a celestial entity that has solid ground, but does not have a gravitational pull as powerful as Earth’s, and is closer to the orbit in which the future station will be placed. In other words, escape velocity here is much lower than on Earth and, so, breaking free from the gravitational attraction of the moon requires less energy and a lower speed (due to the fact that the gravitational constant is lower). Also, the location should have materials that can be mined and used in the construction of the station. The most suitable place, which met all the requirements from above, is represented by Earth’s natural satellite, the Moon.

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This project requires two major steps, first one being the colonization of the Moon with mining bases, that can gather resources which will be equipped with huge 3D printers in order to create the ships components, and the second one being the construction of the ship and its positioning in L4 Lagrange Point.

Even if it may seem a far-fetched idea, colonizing the Moon with the modern day technology like remote control robots and printers that are able to receive information through radio waves at the speed of light is a reachable goal. The process will start with sending huge two-part mining robots with 10 space missions that will be assembled by the crew, having 5 mining machines. Also, they can be programmed to process the materials on spot into liquid metal, which will be used by the printers in order to create the parts. The 3D printers, being enormous machines, will be also sent in two missions, being assembled on the spot. After having the raw materials, established on the Moon, there will also be sent 10 shuttles, each carrying 10 robot workers, very versatile machines that can wield, cut and grab any form, and can also receive complex commands, like group commands in order to build major components, other mining machines or 3D printers to supplement the output of materials. All of the 3 types of machines will be solar powered, and will be controlled from a command-center on Earth. While the 3D printers will receive models of components and the number of copies needed, the mining robots will be fully controlled by a human being to avoid the risk of mistake. Using programming style similar to the one of the nabobs, the robotic workers will be issued a command and will have autonomy in fulfilling it. After the process of building the station has already started, we would be sent 20 more missions with 20 workers each to start and build the final station, which will be colonized with 11500 residents when completed. The station is made from sections (major and minor components) that will be each explained in their own chapter. Carpathia is being made mainly from carbon nanotubes which will be shaped into the form of 8 cylinders, being: Central Area, Lower and Upper Industry, Agriculture Area, Habitable Area, Animal Area and final Maintenance Zone. The solar panels as well as the computers and refined cables will be brought from Earth with the Space Elevator, not having necessary materials on the Moon to build them. Also, the engines required to maintain the spinning of the ship will be assembled on Earth and sent on the Moon by a space mission. 

The second step, after the construction of the ship, will be moving it towards its final position. For this task, we will be using the engines that assure the rotation of the ship, by shifting them downwards and achieving Moon liftoff. We will then orientate the engines in order to use them as thrusters and send the space colony into the L4 Lagrange point.

In conclusion, it can be safely said that, even if it involves a huge deal of resources and time, the Moon constructing solution is the most feasible one from all the other solution presented above, being more realistic than the terrestrial construction, and less costly than the outer-space construction.

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