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


With the lunar dirt on top of the UniHab providing protection from radiation and the centrifuge extending crew stay for at least three years and perhaps indefinitely, an interesting situation arises in which it is the crew's social status that becomes the dominant factor in determining how long they could remain on the Moon. A similar situation is seen when military personnel are deployed. If they are deployed for greater than six months then they are allowed leave so at so return home in order to maintain relationships with their spouse and children. If the personnel have to remain overseas for a period of years, they can move their family to housing on the base. In other words, it is widely recognized that the social status of personnel is something that cannot be ignored but has to be addressed. The same will hold true on the Moon.

Up until now, we haven't had astronauts off Earth for more than 14 months. The average stay on the International Space Station is between four and six months. However, when the first crew moves to the Moon, they will have the potential to remain there for years, perhaps many years. Rotating crew on the Moon would be both costly and dangerous. What to do?

Many people recognize that it wouldn't be right for a lunar crew member to leave a dependent child back on Earth and go and remain on the Moon for years. Likewise, it wouldn't be good for the health of their marriage if a crew member left their spouse on Earth and remained on the Moon for years. Moving children to the Moon to be with their parents would be unethical due to the unknown health risks to the children. Finally, sending singles to live and work 24/7 for years within even a spacious habitat could create, shall we say, the possibility of complications which might be great for a reality TV show but not ideal for crew cohesion. The chance of love triangles, jealousies, and whatnot would be significant.

NASA and other government astronauts, singles, retirees, teenagers, etc will eventually go to the Moon. But until we have completed the animal studies to determine the artificial gravity prescription for healthy pregnancy and childhood, the ideal solution would be for the crew to be couples without children back on Earth. Then, as the population of the lunar base grows and more social opportunities become available, a broader social environment will develop. Hopefully the artificial gravity studies on animals will answer to even the initial crew how they can safely have children on the Moon. But in the meantime, the couples should have reversible means of birth control and eggs and sperm stored back on Earth to ensure their having the option of having children.

The root concept for settlement is for people to "settle down". That mean to establish a home which means family. Children are not an ethical option in the early years of a lunar base but spouses are. And a couple is a family. So, as soon as there are couples remaining on the Moon for an indefinite period of time then that qualifies as the beginning of space settlement. So, the very first crew of eight composed of four couples going to stay on the Moon for an indefinite period of years constitutes the beginning of humanity starting to move off Earth and hence the beginning of space settlement. As a result, these first eight people will go down in history as the pioneers of humanity's spread into the cosmos.

Space settlement can start with couples moving off Earth for an indefinitely long period of time.

Next: History