- establishing humanity's first, permanent foothold off Earth -


The public's greatest interest will be in the arrival and life of the initial crew.

We need to understand just how close we can be to humanity taking its first permanent steps off Earth. It doesn't take as much as many people presume.

Even before the lunar lander is human-rated, it could deliver a large, inflatable UniHab which the telerobots would cover with lunar dirt prior to crew arrival. With the indoor centrifuge providing a full gee of artificial gravity several hours a day, the very first crew should be able to remain on the Moon for at least three years and quite possibly much longer. Ponder the implications of this.

The social status of that very first crew would begin to dominate how long they could remain on the Moon. If a crew member had a dependent child or even a spouse back on Earth, they would likely feel the need to return to Earth even before their radiation levels or bone density required them to. Sending a bunch of single individuals to work and live together for years could result in some interesting situations which could negatively affect crew morale. Two gals showing an interest in the same guy could make for some great reality TV but could seriously harm the ability of the crew to do their work.

Eventually, as the population of the base grows, there will be all types of people moving to the Moon. But initially, the people to go down into the history books as those humans to first move off Earth need to be those who are able to stay there essentially indefinitely. Ideally, they would go as couples in which their social status is resolved. Just like on Earth when a job requires for someone to move away for years, they take their family with them. Same situation here. What we're talking about is the beginning of actual space settlement -- on a small scale.

This initial crew (let's say eight people) will go down in history at the level of Christopher Columbus and the Pilgrims. We would know up front that we are writing history. What story will we choose to write?

The Plan envisions the first UniHab to be funded with American tax dollars via NASA. The crew should be Americans and the common language should be English. But the crew members would not necessarily have been born in the United States. Indeed, it would be to the distinct advantage of the program if the crew members could speak to as many people in the world as possible in their own languages. So, the educational and talent criteria for selection should be specified to people of a certain age around the world. As people pass through the process of selection, at some point they would need to become naturalized American citizens. Doing so would illustrate that being American has to do with the values for which America stands for rather than from what background one comes from. Besides languages, other criteria for selection could include certain talents such as music abilities, dance, gymnastics, art, and personality. The educational criteria would be published but training in the specific protocols needed would be provided to the finalists.

Right now, we don't know who would make up the initial crew of eight. But let's imagine a scenario where the first crew of eight have been selected. Here they are:

The Commander-Farmer is your prototypical astronaut. He's former military. A pilot. Great at organizing people and managing the team. But he's also a farmer and his day-to-day job is working in the hydroponic greenhouse.
The Biologist, his wife, is going to be the primary one responsible for the animal studies including the artificial gravity studies to determine how much artificial gravity is needed for healthy gestation and childhood. She is cross-trained in the medical protocols. She and her husband own the dog which is the ninth team member.

The Engineer is responsible for setting up and maintaining all of the hardware. He also works with the Machinist-Metallurgist as they develop replacement parts from local resources.
The Physician is, of course, responsible for the health of the crew. She monitors everyone to determine if they exceed certain biomedical criteria requiring them to return to Earth. She works with the Biologist in the animal studies.

The Machinist-Metallurgist is the patron saint of blue-collar workers. He extracts metallic micrometeorite bits from the regolith, melts them using concentrated sunlight, removes the dross, casts and machine the metals to make basic metal parts. He works with and is cross-trained to do the work of the roboticist. Only he knows what will be his first CNC machined and 3D-printed pieces.
The Chemist is demonstrating the small-scale production of new chemicals nearly every day from the organic chemicals in the ice and from the geologist samples. Later, as the base grows and there are dedicated manufacturing habitats, she works to set up larger-scale chemical processing facilities. She is cross-trained with the Geologist.

The Geologist receives rock samples from telerobotic missions from selected sites around the Moon. Besides being the first to closely examine the samples, he works with the chemist to extract elements and chemicals from the rocks for use producing and increasing array of materials.
The Roboticist is in charge of the primary job of the base which is to maintain and expand the telerobotic ice-harvesting workforce so as to grow the propellant-producing system so as to increase the quantity and lower the cost of all follow-on travel to the Moon.

Next: Crew Missions