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


Whenever there are humans involved, there's going to be psychology. The same holds true with space development with some unique circumstances.

Since we will be moving off Earth indefinitely, the psychology of crew selection will be different this time around. The Initial Crew could undergo a very public selection process but one that would involve an assessment of each individual's personality and how those personalities react with each other. This would include how couples interact with each other and within their team. Team dynamics for those international astronauts going for short explorations before returning to Earth wouldn't be as important as those crew who will remain on the Moon in confined spaces for potentially years.

When launching in-space or surface habitats, mass really matters. As a result, habitats can be confined spaces where crew will have to remain for months or even years. Any time you have crew cooped up in a confined space, "cabin fever" can set in resulting in conflicts. Since we know that there is a risk, what can be done?

For starters, increasing the inhabitable volume will also help. Here is where inflatable habitats really shine. For the short, 3-day journey to the Moon, one does not need a lot of volume during transport. But, for an 8.5 month transit to Mars, inflatable habitats can provide even more volume than what is within the launcher's fairing.

On a planetary surface, a Starship could deliver the initial outer layer of a habitat with several acres footprint. Later Starship deliveries could deliver the inner layers of this very large habitat. That sort of footprint would allow for some serious farming and exposure to nature would help the crew avoid the problem of cabin fever and nature deficiency syndrome. Along with growing plants, one could also design waterfalls, and fill the air with recorded sounds of birds, the jungle, etc.

Virtual reality could also be used to give a sense of being somewhere other than a confined habitat. Whereas there are many VR games, perhaps what would be needed in this context is a high-resolution, peaceful nature setting in which one could sit, look around in 360 degrees and see mountains, waterfalls, etc in the distance while hearing the wind and the birds.

As described in the crew page, the Initial Crew would have four couples living and working within a large but confined habitat. In the course of the one to two years that they would be living there before moving on to head up new habitats with new people, might there be the temptation to explore a "relationship" with someone else's spouse? Obviously, any such development could be devastating the crew morale and mission success. Specific efforts should be taken to reduce the likelihood of this happening.

For starters, the risk of affairs should be recognized and the crew should be in agreement that each member of the crew is committed to ensuring that they won't allow such a thing to happen. Not only could it be terribly damaging to their own marriages but they could lose their spot in this historic crew and so lose what they had put so much effort into for so many years. So, all of the crew should agree that, if they find themselves being the recipient of interest from another's spouse, then they will make sure to "nip it in the bud" by countering the tempter. But another very practical step could be that, in general, male crew would work with male crew and female crew would work with female crew. Also, Mission Control would be able to see via cameras some of the work and living areas and so could also play an interventional role if inappropriate relationships are starting to bud.

Affairs are one thing but, if living in tight quarters, spouses might find themselves at times in disagreement and unable to take a breather. A very large initial habitat could help with that. But also a divider in their bedroom could help couples get out of each other's hair by allowing one of them to go over to the study and answer e-mail or something. As the base grows, individuals will be able to travel out of their habitat into other parts of the colony and so not feel so penned in together with their fellow settlers.

All colonies will start small resulting in limited social opportunities. Residents from childhood through young adulthood will especially find the lack of social opportunities challenging. But, until the artificial gravity for healthy gestation and childhood is determined, having children in the Colony would not be prudent. So presumably, the Colony will already be sizable by the time the children start arriving. It may be that the initial children will be a large cohort of the grandchildren of many of the colonists such that a small village of children would arrive at the same time thereby providing them with an instant society of fellow youth. Also, from the Moon, people can remain in fairly good touch with their friends back on Earth via video conferencing. If it is determined that a certain amount of full artificial gravity each day is enough to keep fetuses children in sufficient health then the colonies can remain young through natural growth.

The Initial Colony will be faced with a set of psychological challenges including confinement and the potential for conflict and marital stress. With thoughtful planning, these challenges can be addressed.

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