Colonizing the Moon has been on humanity’s mind for a long time. It is one of the most suggested solutions to over-population and over-exploitation of resources on Earth. While all other options are expensive, the Moon being our closest neighbor, it seems the most logical and cost-effective answer. The lunar poles could also allow us to access continuous generation of solar power.
Several space tourism startup companies are coming up with projects for moon tourism in the near future. Last year when SpaceX’s Elon Musk took the media by storm with his Mars colony idea, Jeff Bezos countered at the Space Development Conference with a plan to eventually create a permanent settlement on the Moon.
“When we build our own colonies, we can do them in near-Earth vicinity, because people are going to want to come back to Earth. Very few people, for a long time anyway, are going to want to abandon Earth altogether. Earth is going to be a very important place to be able to come back to. You’re going to want to come and go,” Bezos said at a talk with GeekWire’s Alan Boyle.
The first ever suggestion to build a lunar colony came in 1638, when Bishop John Wilkins predicted a human lunar colony in his ‘A Discourse Concerning a New World and Another Planet’. Russian rocket scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky also suggested the same in 1895. Ever since, there have been a plethora of scientists, engineers, as well as billionaire businessmen, who have been conceptualizing moon colonies.
In 1954, science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke suggested a lunar base of inflatable modules doused in lunar dust for insulation. In 1959, the US Army planned to establish a fort on the moon in a study called Project Horizon. A US Air Force plan called Lunex Project planned to build a 21-airman underground Air Force base on the Moon by 1968 at a cost estimated at USD 7.5 billion.
In 2007, a Lunar Noah’s Ark was proposed when space expert, Jim Burke, said people should plan to preserve humanity’s culture in the event of a civilization-stopping asteroid impact with Earth.
There’s also a Moon Village Association. Founded in 2017, when Johann-Dietrich Wörner, the Chief of ESA, proposed the International Moon Village as a non-governmental organization, a year before. This association encourages international discussions to promote the implementation of a permanent human settlement near the lunar south pole.
British architect Norman Foster’s firm Foster + Partners is also coming up with designs for colonies on Mars and the Moon. Their lunar and Martian habitat designs were on display at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in Chichester, England, in July.
Musk’s SpaceX plans to use the upcoming BFR launch system to enable creation of a moon colony. Bezos wants to collaborate with NASA for the same but has said that he is willing to go solo if need be with his space company Blue Origin.