Space Colonies - Lunar Settlements: Chapter 3. Krafft Ehricke´s Moon: The Extraterrestrial Imperative
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Space Colonies - Lunar Settlements: Chapter 3. Krafft Ehricke´s Moon: The Extraterrestrial Imperative

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Space Colonies - Lunar Settlements: Chapter 3. Krafft Ehricke´s Moon: The Extraterrestrial Imperative Space Colonies - Lunar Settlements: Chapter 3. Krafft Ehricke´s Moon: The Extraterrestrial Imperative Document Transcript

  • 3 Krafft Ehricke’s Moon: The Extraterrestrial Imperative Marsha Freeman Author, Technology Editor of Executive Intelligence Review Marsha Freeman has been the technology editor of the weekly magazine Executive Intelligence Review since 1982. She was the Washington editor of Fusion Magazine from 1980-1987, and has been an associate editor of 21st Century Science & Technology Magazine since 1988. She has written articles on all aspects of the U.S. space program, the history of the German space pioneers, the Soviet and Russian space programs, space medicine and biology, and the Japanese and European space programs, various fields of energy conversion, and nuclear and fusion energy technology. She is the author of How We Got to the Moon: The Story of the German Space Pioneers (21st Century Science Associates, 1993), and the German transla- tion, Hin Zu Neuen Welten: Die Geschichte der Deutschen Raumfahrt-Pioniere (Dr. Bottiger Verlags-GmbH, 1995); Challenges of Human Space Exploration (Springer/Praxis, 2000); and a biography of German space pioneer, Krafft Ehricke, to be published in early 2009, by Apogee Books. Introduction Space visionary Krafft Ehricke devoted more than three decades of his life to developing a comprehensive program for the industrial development of the Moon. He described Earth’s companion as our planet’s seventh continent. His devotion to the movement of human civilization into space began as a teenager in Germany in the late 1920s, and remained his life’s work until his death in 1984. He became well known for his statement: “It has been said, ‘If God wanted man to fly, He would have given man wings.’ Today we can say, ‘If God wanted man to become a spacefaring species, He would have given man a moon.’” “Ours is a binary system,” Krafft Ehricke explained. “There is no rea- son that only half of it should be inhabited, merely because life originated there… Instead of searching for and speculating about life elsewhere, we will put it there.” 19© 2010 Taylor and Francis Group, LLC
  • 20 Lunar Settlements To Krafft Ehricke, the exploration and industrial development of the Moon was not simply a worthwhile undertaking, but an “extraterrestrial imperative.” By this, he meant that man could not continue to grow and develop within the closed system of the Earth. He traced the roots of his concept of the extraterrestrial imperative to the European Renaissance, when the celebration of man’s creativity led to the exploration of the New World, and to the breakthroughs in natural science that laid the basis for the modern era. Krafft Ehricke believed that making clear the philosophical basis for man- kind’s coming exploration of space would provide the necessary founda- tion for all of his future extraterrestrial activities. In 1957, his Anthropology of Astronautics was published, outlining three laws that Ehricke believed should govern man’s exploration of space: First Law: “Nobody and nothing under the natural laws of this uni- verse impose any limitations on man except man himself.” This perspective became especially important in the late 1960s, when the limits to growth movement proposed that mankind must cut back its consumption and reduce its standard of living, because it was using up “limited” resources. Second Law: “Not only the Earth, but the entire solar system, and as much of the universe as he can reach under the laws of nature, are man’s rightful field of activity.” Exploration and exploitation of the resources of the Moon and other heavenly bodies, Krafft Ehricke proposed, would eliminate the idea of limits to growth, by creating a “new open world” for mankind.© 2010 Taylor and Francis Group, LLC
  • Krafft Ehricke’s Moon 21 Third Law: “By expanding through the universe, man fulfills his des- tiny as an element of life, endowed with the power of reason and the wisdom of moral law within himself.” In this way, Krafft Ehricke saw the spread of human civilization, culture, and science throughout the Solar System, as the natural progression of humanity’s billions- years development, to its rightful place in the universe. Today, space exploration programs are too often seen as simply another line-item in an already overburdened federal budget. But Krafft Ehricke made clear that the “imperative” arose from the understanding that there would be grave consequences to trying to limit mankind’s activity to his home planet. In a diagram prepared in 1970, he contrasted a growth ver- sus a no-growth future. A perspective for growth, which would necessitate expansion beyond the Earth, would bring about international cooperation, scientific developments, a global industrial revolution, and ultimately, the preservation of civilization and of human growth potential. In contrast, a no-growth, closed-world pathway would lead to irrational anti-science movements, geopolitical power politics, regional chauvinism,© 2010 Taylor and Francis Group, LLC
  • 22 Lunar Settlements and eventually wars over diminishing reserves of natural resources, many of which are problems we see today. What space exploration and exploitation offered to mankind, in terms of practical results, Krafft Ehricke demonstrated, were advancements in the life and medical sciences, Earth and astronomical sciences, as well as advances in navigation, information, energy, and all aspects of advanced technology. Krafft Ehricke concentrated great effort in studying and describing the development of the Moon, as the first step in what he called a “polyglobal civilization.” However, he never limited his thinking to the nearby Moon. In 1948, while working for the United States Army, testing rockets and missiles, he wrote a fictional work on how Mars would be colonized, which he titled, “Expedition Ares.” It was published for the first time in the Spring 2003 issue of 21st Century Science & Technology magazine. He fully expected that the Moon would just be the first step in mankind’s greatest adventure. Krafft Ehricke described the Earth as a large spaceship, but not one that is alone, but one which “travels in a convoy.” But since the other planets in the Solar System “are not unique in the same sense that Earth is,” he wrote in 1969, “they are expendable and transformable.” On Earth, we have the restraints of preserving and enlarging our ecosphere, while other planets, probably devoid of life now, are “potential incubators of life.” Through the “scope, grandeur, and promise of this challenge,” he stated, “by fertilizing these worlds, we may become builders of new ecospheres.” Selenopolis The exploration and settlement of the Moon, Krafft Ehricke proposed, must be done on a grand scale. He envisioned the development of a city with thou- sands of citizens, which he named Selenopolis. The city would be built over© 2010 Taylor and Francis Group, LLC
  • Krafft Ehricke’s Moon 23 time, and grow along with the development of lunar industries. Selenopolis would establish the industrialization and urbanization of the Moon, with the creation of a self-sufficient lunar biosphere. The mining and manufacturing industries would provide raw materials and minerals, and later semi- and fin- ished goods, for use on the Moon, for export to the Earth, and for spacefarers heading to destinations beyond the Moon. The city of Selenopolis would be powered by fusion power plants, because only such an energy-dense energy source could energize a city that had to create its own environment, grow its own food, and provide educational, cultural, and entertainment activities for the people who would be developing the resources of the Moon. As Krafft Ehricke explained: “For Selenopolis, fusion energy is as indispensable and fundamental as the Sun’s energy is for the terrestrial biosphere. Selenopolis cannot be built with yesterday’s technology.” The city on the Moon will not be an outpost, where a few people would brave the unknown, living in aus- tere circumstances for short periods of time, but provide the basis for the movement of human civilization into space. Although Selenopolis would have to be covered with lunar soil, in order to be well shielded from radiation, natural sunlight would be reflected into the city, through a series of mirrors atop the dome. There thus would be no indication that one were living virtually underground. Living on the Moon should not be all work, Krafft Ehricke stated. Inside the city of Selenopolis, in addition to living quarters, like any large city, there would be muse- ums, schools, an elevated electric rail transport to travel from one venue to another, greenhouses, sports activities, and sections of the city with an array of different climates, such as are found on the Earth. For recreation, selenar- ians could spend time in the winter-climate sector, going ice skating, or they could relax on a beach, in a tropical environment. Life in Selenopolis would mirror, as much as possible, the very best aspects of life on Earth.© 2010 Taylor and Francis Group, LLC
  • 24 Lunar Settlements Krafft Ehricke likened the building of Selenopolis to the construction of the great cathedrals of the Middle Ages. And he advised that, like those cathedrals, it would be the work of generations. Working on the Moon In order to illustrate his concepts for living and working on the Moon, Krafft Ehricke created many of his own paintings, some of which are reproduced here. The development of the Moon would take place in stages, with increased capabilities in each stage, building upon the past accomplishments. The first stage would consist of detailed prospecting of the Moon, using automated, or robotic, probes. Although the Apollo program revolutionized our under- standing of the history and composition of the Moon, many questions remain unanswered about its origin and evolution, and detailed resource mapping is still needed. This is indeed underway today, through probes being sent to the Moon by Europe, Japan, China, and the United States. Stage two would continue detailed prospecting from circumlunar orbit, and capital equipment would begin to be launched from the Earth to the Moon, to prepare for human visits. By stage three, initial industrial bases would be established, including a Lunar Operations Center, which would consist of a laboratory and habitation module. An inverted shape would maximize the shielding for the modules, and would optimize temperature control, at the Lunar Operations Center in equatorial regions, which are warm during the day and cold during the lunar night. This shape also serves as an umbrella, to provide shade for astronauts working on the surface, in the vicinity of the Center.© 2010 Taylor and Francis Group, LLC
  • Krafft Ehricke’s Moon 25 In stage four, industrial feeder stations would be installed at various locations on the Moon, which would provide raw materials for industrial processing. A geolunar space market would develop, for products from the Moon to be exported to facilities in lunar orbit, and to geosynchronous orbit around the Earth. As the lunar economy and population grew, Selenopolis would take shape. And in stage five, the Earth and Moon have a roughly equal trade balance, with the Earth providing industrial capital goods and materials not available on the Moon, and lunar industries exporting finished goods and raw materials back to Earth. Ehricke carried out very detailed studies of large-scale lunar mining oper- ations, needed to provide the citizens of Selenopolis, and the people back on the Earth, with a source of raw materials. Before fusion plants were available, nuclear fission energy would be the primary source of power for the grow- ing lunar economy, and industrial-scale mining operations. In an early 1980s scheme, Ehricke pictured collector trucks delivering the mined raw material, or “lunar crude,” to the processing complex. The lunar soil would be fed by a conveyor belt system into an atomic oven, which would be created through small nuclear detonations. In these under- ground caverns, the heat of the pulsed nuclear blasts would be contained in the desiccated, low-heat-conducting lunar rock. Atomic blasts inside the oven would vaporize the volatiles in the soil, such as oxygen, which would then be collected in a near-by buffer cavern. The gas would egress to the surface, where it would be collected and housed in storage containers, for use in Selenopolis. Many other precious resources, including man-made ores© 2010 Taylor and Francis Group, LLC
  • 26 Lunar Settlements of enriched materials, would also be extracted from the atomic oven, as it is “mined” for other reduced materials. Then the oven would be reused. New Transportation Systems In order to make development of the Moon efficient and economical, Krafft Ehricke proposed that an entire family of new transportation vehicles be created, each optimized to operate in its own specific environment. Winged vehicles, taking advantage of the braking potential of the atmosphere of the Earth, he proposed, would be well suited for transport from Earth to Earth- orbiting space stations, and back again. Between the orbit of the Earth, and the orbit of the Moon, or through cislunar space, a class of vehicles with- out aerodynamic requirements, since they would not encounter a planetary atmosphere, would be developed. The Earth-Moon transport system should make maximum use of the mate- rials found and processed on the Moon, Krafft Ehricke proposed, since, due to the lower gravity, it is more efficient to launch material into cislunar space from the surface of the Moon, than from the surface of the Earth. He therefore designed a huge, nuclear-powered Cislunar Freighter, fueled by lunar oxygen and aluminum powder, to carry “lunar bounty” to terrestrial markets. One of the primary cargoes carried by the Cislunar Freighter would be the isotope helium-3, which is very rare on the Earth, but has been deposited and has remained virtually undisturbed on the lunar surface, over eons by the solar wind. As has been recently emphasized by space scientists, particularly© 2010 Taylor and Francis Group, LLC
  • Krafft Ehricke’s Moon 27 in Russia and China, this isotope will be the fuel for future terrestrial and lunar economies, used in advanced fusion power plants. Landing on the Moon entails a different set of requirements than land- ing on the Earth, and specialized vehicles were designed by Krafft Ehricke for this purpose. For landing on the surface of the Moon, he invented an entirely new science—harenodynamics, from the Latin word for “sandy.” This new science encompassed the determination of the dynamics of flow, boundary layer formation, pressure and temperature, and the effect of the release of oxygen, from the lunar sand. Harenodynamics is the substitution of the dynamic qualities of lunar sand, for the aerodynamic and hydrody- namic characteristics that enable man to fly, and land, in the atmosphere of the Earth. In this way, a vehicle could land like an airplane on the Moon, using the “drag” or friction of the sand as a substitute for an atmosphere, rather than use costly fuels for braking propulsion in rocket engines to slow down and drop gently to the surface. Slide Landers would not require a paved runway, but it will be necessary to clear a path for the vehicles, by removing boulders and large rocks. Krafft Ehricke recommended that the lunar plains, the maria, provide suitable sur- face conditions. A nuclear-powered Mammoth Sweeper was designed by Ehricke, to prepare an 80-kilometer long lunar runway, or landing strip, with a smooth, although dusty, surface. The Slide Lander would approach the sur- face of the Moon from circumlunar orbit, to land on the runway prepared by the Sweeper. He made precise calculations, not only of the flow dynamics of this sandy medium, but also of the direction of the streams of sand created by the dynamic landing, so they would be propelled safely away from the vehicle. Lunar mining operations would also require an extensive surface trans- portation system. Krafft Ehricke considered magnetic launchers and cata- pults for shorter distances, and systems similar to elevated light rail for© 2010 Taylor and Francis Group, LLC
  • 28 Lunar Settlements distances beyond the horizon. Combinations of surface transport systems would be employed, depending upon the distances traversed over the sur- face, and the characteristics of what is being transported, such as people versus freight. During stage four, feeder stations, located in metal-rich prov- inces of the Moon, would be established. Using a ballistic delivery of this enriched “lunar crude” to central processing complexes, material would be hurled into a designated receiving crater, Ehricke proposed, from which it would be transported to the industrial processing facility. “The energy requirements for ballistic transmission are modest,” he explained, “because of the low lunar gravity.” At the time Krafft Ehricke was designing his lunar city, the landings on the surface of the Moon, during the Apollo program, had been lim- ited to equatorial regions. In order to extend the range of potential land- ing locations, and to increase the span of regions adaptable to the human exploration of the Moon, he developed a concept first proposed by German space pioneer Hermann Oberth, in the 1920s. Placed in the proper orbit around the Moon, a spacecraft could capture sunlight and reflect it to the surface. Such a Lunetta could illuminate the eternally-dark polar regions of the Moon, allowing the mining of what scientists hope are caches of lunar water ice at the poles. The orbiting mirror could also illuminate near-equa- torial regions during the two-week lunar night, as well as provide light to the far side of the Moon during its night, which is not illuminated at all, even by earthshine. This global approach would be far superior to string- ing electric power lines and placing street lights over the lunar surface, or carrying flashlights.© 2010 Taylor and Francis Group, LLC
  • Krafft Ehricke’s Moon 29 Space Should Be Therapeutic; and Fun! On September 26, 1966, Krafft Ehricke appeared on national television with well-known television space reporter, Walter Cronkite. Ehricke used a set of models to explain to Mr. Cronkite, and the television audience, some of the ideas he was developing for exploring and living in space. While the Apollo lunar exploration program was in development, in preparation for the expected industrial development of the Moon, Ehricke suggested that space facilities in near-Earth orbit would provide a range of goods and ser- vices for the first space farers. One such concept he described in the television presentation, was the design of an Earth-orbiting space hospital. It would be arranged as a series of separate but connected rotating cylinders, which would allow for the iso- lation of patients with different conditions. Access would be to each ward separately. Depending upon the distance from the center inside the rotating ward, the patient would experience varying levels of gravity. This would allow appropriate treatment for many maladies, such as heart conditions, or burns. Earlier the same year, Ehricke and B.D. Newsom, a research specialist in the life sciences at the Convair Division of General Dynamics, presented a paper on the “Utilization of Space Environment for Therapeutic Purposes,” outlining the promise of Earth-orbital medicine. In their paper, Ehricke and Newsom describe the creation of an ambu- lance launch vehicle, to transport seriously ill patients to the more benign microgravity environment of Earth orbit, and medical research and treat- ment facilities at the orbital hospital. Two categories of objectives were noted:© 2010 Taylor and Francis Group, LLC
  • 30 Lunar Settlements curative objectives, which would enable the patient to return to Earth in a better condition than he left; and alleviative objectives, which establish “the individual’s behavioral freedom from the effects of a handicap by temporary or permanent transfer to a low-zero gravity environment.” They note that while the microgravity environment had been shown to have deleterious effects when healthy human beings adapt to space, that environment can have curative effects, as well. The reduction of stress on the heart and circulatory system are one noted potentially positive effect of microgravity, which can provide relief from hypertension. The absence of pressure on the musculo-skeletal system can release pinched nerves and compressed spinal disks. Space can be used as a means of physical therapy, through the controlled use of varying levels of gravity. Crippled, partially paralyzed, or otherwise handicapped people could benefit from the reduced environmental stress. Burn victims would likewise benefit from the lowered pressure to the skin in microgravity. But space will not only be open for settlers, miners, engineers, and sci- entists, Krafft Ehricke proposed. It should also be fun! Decades before citi- zens who are not professional astronauts were lining up to experience space flight, Ehricke proposed in 1967, that tourism will be a natural extension of man in space. He said that people will go into space for the “sheer pleasure,” just as they take trips on ocean liners and jet planes on vacation, on the Earth. New activities, only possible above the Earth, will provide relaxation, just as they do for astronauts today, when there is a window of opportunity, and window to peer out of, in their spaceship. Obviously, Krafft Ehricke states, “space vacations offer attractions which literally are out of this world.” Microgravity, itself, will provide a leisurely environment, removing the physical stresses of life on Earth. Global “sight- seeing,” as the astronauts do now, will be popular, and will include not only looking at the Earth, but also out at the universe, as “the sky is open” to the tourist “as it can never be on Earth.” Orbital hotels and tourist facilities will offer a range of entertainment, sports activities, and even orbital excursions (space walks, or extravehicular activities). One such facility for the vacationer is the Dynarium, which Krafft Ehricke describes as “the equivalent to the large swimming pool in modern resort hotels.” The Dynarium is a large enclosure, where the “swimming pool” is three-dimensional, and guests can dart from wall to wall, gently float, tumble, roll, or fly under their own muscle power. Orbital hotels will also include space zoos and botanic exhibitions, small laboratories, observation rooms, space walks, and space boats that can be rented for tours around the facilities. Why will people want to spend their vacations in space? Krafft Ehricke poses the following questions, assuming that a thriving space tourism industry will eventually take explorers beyond the confines of Earth orbit: “Do we know what it is like to discern the manifold signatures of creation in space? Do we know what it is like to walk through the stillness of worlds© 2010 Taylor and Francis Group, LLC
  • Krafft Ehricke’s Moon 31 untrespassed by living beings? Do we know what it is like to touch the unchanged rocky texture of a column a billion or more years of age? Do we know what it is like to leap with seven-league boots on the Moon? Can we fathom the beauty of a Martian sunset? … to look at the mute traces of life somewhere that faded away eons ago?” Recreation and enjoyment will not only be available for tourists who choose to spend their vacations in space. Inside the lunar city of Selenopolis, provision will be made, in the partial-Earth gravity of the Moon, for new experiences in sports activities, such as tennis. There will be opportunities for casual relaxation at “outdoor” cafes and restaurants, in areas of the city that are comparable to the “sunbelt” climates on Earth. Other parts of the city will mimic the colder climates or seasons on Earth, and Christmas in Selenopolis might include ice skating, and a visit to the Hall of Astronauts. To Krafft Ehricke, the idea that there could be “limits to growth,” which notion became popular during the late 1960s, was a repudiation of the human spirit, and the Renaissance view of man. He fought a constant battle to argue that only when the Earth is looked at as a closed system, could one consider that there are limits to resources. But, there is no limit to human creativity, and it is that resource, and the new knowledge it creates, that creates a new open world. This open world depends upon the exploration and exploitation by man of what is rightly his: the unlimited potential of space.© 2010 Taylor and Francis Group, LLC
  • © 2010 Taylor and Francis Group, LLC