Outbound Operational Plan for Space Migration: Robotic Lunar Exploration

I would like to point out that some of the Outbound operational plan I’m walking through has been more or less followed by the Earth’s space agencies already. Probably, you’d gather that I don’t have a major beef with how history has rolled out exploration of Space, and overall you’d be right. I suppose my major complaint is that via the urgency of the 20th Century Space Race, we didn’t linger as long as I think we should have at each step. Our robotic Lunar exploration is a pretty major example of that. I have a slightly different take on how I’d do things than we did them then, and that brings rise to a major part of the initial operational plan for Outbound as Robotic Lunar Exploration (OPS.6)

The fundamental task of our robotic orbital and surface robotic sorties of the Moon was to support the Apollo moon landings. We didn’t send those missions to determine mining value or construction suitability, or attempt in-situ use of lunar materials to build things. We were concerned almost entirely with whether or not we could land on the surface and walk around. Certainly, material composition and variety were noted and appreciated, but it was not the thrust of the surveys. Current missions are now looking into these glossed-over factors, which is great, but imagine where we might be today if settlement was a stated and followed goal of Apollo? Even if only a scientific station was established, we could have learned so much more about living and working in space than we know now.

Outbound would definitely send such robotic precursor missions and support human landings, but as those landings took place, automated landers could produce sintered bricks and use them to develop techniques for Lunar Base construction in tandem with the Human landing missions. This allows for continued progress in settlement development while joining forces between the robotic and crewed developmental tasks. The automated systems would work to generate structures, and the human crews could perform quality control and fine-tuning of the automated tasks.

For an example of the plans being made to automate lunar soil manufacturing, look to the Coral Concept from the folks at Space Decentral. The planning for this mission is still underway, but the idea seems sound.


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