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  • A social-economic evaluation of the lunar environment and resources

    Paper ID



    • K.A. Ehricke


    Space Global Co.






    This first of several study papers, based on a fundamental paper presented in 1972, provides an independent conceptual analysis and evaluation of the lunar environment as industrial base and habitat. A seleno- sphere system strategy is outlined. The underlying concept is that of one or several lunar industrial zones for resource extraction and on- surface processing, integrated with a circumlunar zero-g processing capability, serving markets in geolunar space. A classification of lunar elements by utilization category is presented. Lunar oxygen is a prime candidate for being an initial economic "drawing card", because of its value for fast transportation in geolunar space, requiring significantly fewer ships for equal transfer capability per unit time than electric transports which, however, have value, especially between geosynchronous and lunar orbit. The reduced development difficulties of controlled fusion outside the atmosphere and its advantages for extracting oxygen and other elements in quantity are summarized. Examples of lunar cycle management as fundamental exoindustrial requirement for economic resource enhancement are presented. The principal initial socioeconomic value of lunar industry lies in the use of lunar resources for exoindustrial products and operations designed to accelerate, intensify and diversify Earth-related benefits. In the longer run, lunar settlements are a highly suitable proving ground for studying and testing the complex matrix of technological, biological, cultural, social and psychological aspects that must be understood and manageable before large settlements beyond Earth can have a realistic basis for viability. The lunar environment is more suitable for experimentation and comparatively more "forgiving" in case of failures than is orbital space.