- how an off-Earth base could quickly become self-sufficient -


One of the ultimate goals for space settlement is to back-up humanity by ensuring that humanities "eggs are in two baskets" - on Earth and at least one place off Earth. Only when this point is reached will humanity be securely located at two different locations in the solar system.

Achieving full Earth independence (i.e. nothing has to be shipped from Earth) can be achieved in one of two ways.

One way is to develop a colony that is specifically being built to be Earth independent and in the other way, the space settlement is developed without the specific goal of complete independence but that the outcome is that it is eventually achieved after the settlement (or several settlements together) achieve that capability in general. Some have termed the first type of colony as being a "survival colony" whereas the second approach could be called "general space settlement".

The objective of a Survival Colony would be to achieve complete Earth independence as soon as possible. It would take the approach of identifying exactly what the survival needs are and then developing protocols for providing for those needs while only using local resources. How small could a Survival Colony be and still be able to provide for all of its needs.

One should look at survival needs from a Maslow's heiarchy type of approach using first principles rather than trying to figure it out using Earth-based analogies. The following survival needs have been identified including how time critical they are:

Immediate (minutes --> hours)
   - Air pressure
   - Oxygen
   - Temperature control
   - Power
   - Electronics

Intermediate (days --> months)
   - Drinkable water
   - Food
   - Equipment reproduction
   - Radiation protection
   - Sanitation

Later (years)
   - Habitat reproduction
   - Isolation
   - Sufficient gravity
   - Information (tech & protocols)
   - Genetic diverersity
   - Translocation
For those in the Space Development Network who have looked into these matters, we identify specific resources and locations on the Moon where the materials can be obtained for the equipment to provide for all of the above needs. In a nutshell, there are six categories of resources and their uses:
   - Water - Propellant, drinking, growing food, & sanitation.
   - Organics - CO2 & N for plants, plastics, solvents, lubricants, sealers, etc.
   - Potassium & phosphorus for NPK fertilizer and dopant for electronics.
   - Metals - Equipment and structural material (especially sheet metal).
   - Glass - Windows and helmets.
   - Silicon - Solar panels & electronics.
Please explore the Independence section for presentations on each of the above topics.

We believe that an initial base with the right equipment, telerobotics, and its Initial Crew could become about 85% Earth independent within the first year. This would come primarily from water (especially propellant), metals, and organics. We also believe that the production of parts and structures could be accomplished at a rate greater than the natural population growth of a base would require and that this level of progress could be achieved with the FTEs of the Initial Crew.

Radiation protection can easily be achieved with enough dirt (i.e. regolith) on top of the habitats. Functioning solar cells have already been produced using lunar regolith simulant. Genetic viability can be ensured with a store of frozen embryos. The key uncertainty is if, by using an indoor centrifuge several hours a day, full artificial gravity would be sufficient for multi-generational reproduction. Strict quarantine would be necessary for the Survival Colony and would be prudent for use in general colonies that receive passengers from Earth.

It appears that a small Survival Colony could be established soon after an Initial Crew settles down off Earth.

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