Plans for a self-sustaining ‘Moon Village’ are progressing at a rapid pace, with a 1,000-strong colony possibly up and running by 2050.
With the International Space Station (ISS) set to come to the end of its life in the middle of the next decade, the world’s largest space agencies are now seeing the viability of a fully functional ‘Moon Village’.
Leading the charge is the European Space Agency (ESA) – in collaboration with the Chinese national space agency – which recently revealed massive plans to take it from a concept to a construction timeline.
According to AFP (via Phys.org), at the latest European Planetary Science Congress in Latvia, ESA’s ambassador for the future Moon Village, Bernard Foing, said that the first humans to live permanently outside of Earth could be a group of six to 10 pioneers by the year 2030.
A decade later, this could increase tenfold, with everything needed for homes and tools produced using 3D printers on site, and the right facilities built to grow food.
By 2050, Foing said, the first families could begin to populate a number of villages, with another tenfold increase in population to approximately 1,000 people.
Moon as a launch pad
The proposal to replace the ISS with a permanent lunar colony is also being put forward by the head of ESA, Jan Woerner, to further humankind’s expansion to planets, including Mars.
The moon has also become an attractive place for private enterprise, with companies such as Moon Express hoping to mine the moon for valuable elements. One example, helium-3, could play a part in the development of nuclear fusion technology.
Not only that, but the water contained in the lunar poles could be used for rocket fuel, turning the satellite into a launch pad for space missions.
Foing said of the moon’s potential: “It is 40 times cheaper to go from the moon than from Earth, because the Earth has such high gravity that you have to fight against it.”
Opinions on the progress of the proposed Moon Village were not so positive at the conference, with Latvian physicist Vidvuds Beldavs arguing that the lack of interest from world leaders in the idea was “highly frustrating”.
Updated, 5.13pm, 25 September 2017: This article was updated to remove a reference to a company that was mistakenly linked to moon-mining activity.