Understanding how new technologies will work in the moon and how the human body will adjust to life in low gravity will be assuring to astronauts and lunar colonists. Reducing the risk of failure will be very important to the future of exploring the moon. Structural engineers have a lot of things to consider when it comes to building a moon base. One of these is the damage that building materials may sustain when exposed to a vacuum.
Damage from high velocity micrometeorite impact, material brittleness at low temperatures, cumulative abrasion due to solar wind particles and high energy cosmic rays and severe temperature variations should be considered during the planning period. Work can start on the structures themselves once all the risks are outlined. Since the gravitational pull exerted by the moon is 1/6th that of the Earth, engineers can build structures that are less gravity-restricted. Local materials must also be used when and where possible.
Considerations for Building a Moon Base
Since the cost of launching building supplies from Earth would be ridiculously high, building materials must be mined instead of imported. For instance, fine grains of crushed moon rock called lunar regolith can be used to cover portions of habitats to provide insulation and protect lunar colonists from cosmic rays that can cause cancer. Studies show that the thickness of regolith must be at least 2.5 meters to protect the body to a safe background radiation level. The design of habitats should also include highly insulating materials to guarantee minimum heat loss and promote high energy efficiency. Since the moon’s atmosphere cannot burn up space debris, extra protection from meteorite impact should be considered as well.
Building the base will be very hard. The low gravity environment will make it hard for construction personnel to work. The lack of a suitable atmosphere would be very damaging. For example, dynamic friction will be increased during drilling tasks as there will be no buffering of air around the drilling tool. This will generate a large amount of heat. Rock and drill bits will also fuse and delay progress.
If demolition tasks have to be done, the explosion in a vacuum would produce a lot of high velocity missiles that will tear through everything in their path and no atmosphere would slow them down. The expelled dust would also obscure the surroundings and settle on the machinery, contaminating everything. Decontamination through air locks won’t be enough to get rid of the dust from spacesuits. Settlers would breathe in moon dust, which can pose risks to their health.