Many folks would like to see us back on the Moon and developing its resources.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Jerry Pournelle, RIP 8 Aug 2017

To all of you that date back to the BYTE Magazine, Viktor Toth just passed this bit of sad news, "Jerry Pournelle, the noted science-fiction writer, political pundit and early computer enthusiast, is dead at the age of 84."
Pournelle was a long-time collaborator of science-fiction giant Larry Niven, with whom they co-wrote some amazing science-fiction novels, like The Mote in God’s Eye or Oath of Fealty, not to mention their take on Dante’s Divine ComedyInferno, and its sequel, Escape from Hell. Novels he published under his own name included the memorable Janissaries or West of Honor.

Pournelle was well known to readers of the once legendary BYTE magazine. His Chaos Manor column, in which he reviewed software, hardware, new technologies, was very popular

I still have stacks of the BYTE Magazine out in the garage.
Trying to sell computers at the "Digital Deli" in Mountain View on weekends before I retired from the Navy back in 1983 seems like yesterday.

Someone who remembered Jerry.

Friday, September 8, 2017

R.I.P. Jerry Pournelle

>From Jerry’s son Alex:
I’m afraid that Jerry passed away
We had a great time at DragonCon
He did not suffer.

This page is for site visitors to post remembrances and thoughts at the time of Dr. Pournelle’s passing (8 Aug 2017).  Your thoughts can be added using the form at the bottom of this page. Comments that are not related to words of encouragement will be removed.
Dr. Pournelle’s family appreciates those that have taken the time to send encouragement and well wishes. – Editor.




Monday, May 08, 2017


The European Space Agency (ESA) posted 3 May 2017 an article about making 3D Bricks from a lunar simulant.

3 May 2017
Bricks have been 3D printed out of simulated moondust using concentrated sunlight – proving in principle that future lunar colonists could one day use the same approach to build settlements on the Moon.
“We took simulated lunar material and cooked it in a solar furnace,” explains materials engineer Advenit Makaya, overseeing the project for ESA.
“This was done on a 3D printer table, to bake successive 0.1 mm layers of moondust at 1000°C. We can complete a 20 x 10 x 3 cm brick for building in around five hours.”
Access the videos.
Advenit adds: “Our demonstration took place in standard atmospheric conditions, but RegoLight will probe the printing of bricks in representative lunar conditions: vacuum and high-temperature extremes.”
  • Title Multi-dome base being constructed
  • Released 15/01/2013 12:00 pm
  • Copyright ESA/Foster + Partners
  • DescriptionMulti-dome lunar base being constructed, based on the 3D printing concept. Once assembled, the inflated domes are covered with a layer of 3D-printed lunar regolith by robots to help protect the occupants against space radiation and micrometeoroids.
  • Id 286363

Five hours to make one brick sounds like a long time.  Maybe if you sent in the robots and had them working on projects before humans landed the time would not be a problem.  All part of things to consider in setting up a lunar base. Engineers should really enjoy making something like this work.
  SpecialK | May 8, 2017 at 4:31 pm | Categories: Space Exploration | URL:

Friday, April 28, 2017

Base Construction Material

Whether we go to Mars or the Moon, if we expect to build up a base it will be to our advantage to be able to use the materials we find there.
Even if we use the initial lander or sent ahead containers, there will be a need to provide additional  material to provide shielding, especially if there is no atmosphere to slow down cosmic rays.
John Reed passed me a link to some work that has been done to see if bricks could be made from a Martian Soil Simulant.

Direct Formation of Structural Components Using a Martian Soil Simulant

  • Scientific Reports 7, Article number: 1151 (2017)
  • doi:10.1038/s41598-017-01157-w


Martian habitats are ideally constructed using only locally available soils; extant attempts to process structural materials on Mars, however, generally require additives or calcination. In this work we demonstrate that Martian soil simulant Mars-1a can be directly compressed at ambient into a strong solid without additives, highlighting a possible aspect of complete Martian in-situ resource utilization. Flexural strength of the compact is not only determined by the compaction pressure but also significantly influenced by the lateral boundary condition of processing loading. The compression loading can be applied either quasi-statically or through impact. Nanoparticulate iron oxide (npOx), commonly detected in Martian regolith, is identified as the bonding agent. Gas permeability of compacted samples was measured to be on the order of 10−16 m2, close to that of solid rocks. The compaction procedure is adaptive to additive manufacturing.

Shorter version of report. - LRK

Engineers investigate a simple, no-bake recipe to make bricks from Martian soil

April 27, 2017
University of California - San Diego
Explorers planning to settle on Mars might be able to turn the planet's soil into bricks without needing to use an oven or additional ingredients. Instead, they would need to apply pressure to compact the soil--the equivalent of a blow from a hammer.
This is a brick made of Martian soil simulant compacted under pressure. The brick was made without any additional ingredients and without baking.
Credit: Jacobs School of Engineering/UC San Diego

Since we would like to go back to the Moon to Stay, using what we find in the Lunar Soil should be considered as well.
What elements are there can help suggest what might make a good way to use the soil.

It looks like work has been done on lunar soil simulents.
Introduction: The potential of utilizing lunar regolith as the raw material for manufacturing structural members is very appealing for future exploration of the Moon [1,2]. Future lunar missions will depend on in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) for structural components. Manufacturing structural components directly from unrefined lunar regolith would have the advantage of needing less specialized material processing equipment in comparison with refining the lunar regolith for its raw elements. Sintering lunar regolith has been proposed as a structural material by previous researchers but has not been evaluated for its elastic material properties. Sintering can be a highly variable process and only with the material constants can a structure be designed from this material.
Developing Cementitious Materials Using Lunar Soil Simulant Yu Qiao,* Jin Chen, Aijie Han. Department of Structural Engineering, University of California at San Diego 9500 Gilman Dr. MC 0085, La Jolla, CA 92093-0085, USA (Email:
Summary: An organic-inorganic nanohybrid of high flexure strength and low permeability is developed using lunar soil simulant and polymer-silicate interphase. The interphase consists of a continuous polyamide 6 phase, exfoliated silicate nanolayers, and dispersed silicate tactoids intercalated by polyamide 6 oligomers. The lunar soil simulant is strongly bonded by the interphase through a two-staged heating and mixing process, forming a multiscale structure with the characteristic lengths ranging from nanometer level to sub-millimeter level. This technique has great potential in developing high-performance space infrastructural materials using locally harvestable resources. A complete report has been published elsewhere.[1]

I haven't seen whether just impacting Lunar soil (regolith)  will make nice bricks.
I have a stack of books that discuss what might go into making a Lunar base.
It looks like I need to do a lot of re-reading and then see if we are doing more actual testing.  Hopefully that will be the case as others are now talking more about going to the Moon with landers.
Send in the robots and let's see if they can make some Lego Bricks that can be stacked neatly into structures. 
I wonder what a LEGO Lander made from Lunar Regolith would cost?
Lego Lunar Lander
The Lunar Dust Problem: From Liability to Asset Lawrence A. Taylor1 ( Planetary Geosciences Institute, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996 Harrison H. Schmitt2 Engineering Research Bldg., University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, 53706 W. David Carrier, III3 Lunar Geotechnical Institute, P.O. Box 5056, Lakeland, FL 33807 And Masami Nakagawa4 Division of Engineering, Colorado School of Mines, Golden, CO 80401
In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) of lunar materials for the establishment of an extra-terrestrial human base or settlement will involve guarding against, as well as utilizing, the ever-present, clinging, penetrating, abrasive, resource-rich, fine-grained lunar dust. The properties of the fine portion of the lunar soil (<50 addressed="" adequately="" any="" be="" before="" can="" div="" dust="" fully="" include:="" its="" m="" moon="" must="" on="" presence="" realized="" sustained="" the="" these="">
1) abrasiveness, with regards to friction-bearing surfaces;
2) pervasive nature as coatings, on seals, gaskets, optical lens, windows, etc.,
3) gravitational settling on all thermal and optical surfaces, such as solar cells; and
4) physiological effects on the tissue in human lungs.
The chemical and physical properties of the fine fraction of lunar soil is at the root of the unusual properties of the dust that contribute to its deleterious effects – its “liability". Recent discoveries of the unique magnetic properties of lunar mare and highland soils by the senior author’s Tennessee group have led to suggested solutions to the liability of the lunar dust. The soil fragments and dust grains contain myriads of adhering nano-sized (3-30 nm) Fe0 particles, iron in its elemental form, concentrated especially in the fine, dusty fraction. The presence of this ferromagnetic Fe0 on and in almost every grain of the fine dust-sized particles imparts an unusually high magnetic susceptibility to the particles, such that they are easily captures by a magnet. Furthermore, the presence of these nanophase Fe0 grains imparts an unusual property to the soil for microwave energy. The microwaves couple strongly with the Fe0 to such a degree that a sample of Apollo soil placed in an ordinary 2.45 MHz kitchen microwave will literally begin to melt before your tea-water boils. Further considerations of the properties of the fine soil are the basis for the microwave sintering/melting, hot-pressing, and extrusion of the soil to form various construction materials, in order to realize some of the "assets" of the soil
[Note - 31 references - LRK -]

 SpecialK | April 28, 2017 at 7:43 pm | Categories: Base Construction | URL:
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Wednesday, April 26, 2017


Looking for ways to make it easy to assist in propagating the MEME: = THE MOON IS OUR NEXT INHABITED PLANET.
NASA has over the years done more to put their face in front of the general public.
Back when the Lunar Prospector mission was being set up the project was asked to find a way for the general public to get a feel for what was going on during real time while Lunar Prospector was orbiting the Moon.  They set up a Lunar Prospector web site and I got to adapt some of their programs to let me send data to the web site display applets through a back door.  These displays updated just 5 minutes after the live data was received.  Much quicker than waiting a couple of years for the scientists papers to come out. :-)
Since then NASA in general has done much more to provide access to mission information. Mars gets a lot of coverage.
JPL contributes much.
The International Space Station (ISS) is interesting with media coverage letting us know what is going on in Low Earth Orbit.  Videos and interviews bring us up to speed.
Today with the higher bandwidth Internet connections and more powerful graphic processors for computers, tablets, and phones. we can take Virtual Tours of the ISS.
Here is a YouTube tour.
Published on Jan 11, 2016
Using the amazing Space Engine and some mods created by Harbinger we can float around outside the International Space Station as it orbits the Earth. Using YouTube's 360 video feature you can look in any direction and those using headsets can experience the view from 400 km above Earth floating next to the most complicated piece of machinery ever made.
The music is a slowed down version of Eastminster by Kevin MacLeod
Space Engine is Copyright Vladimir Romanyuk © 2011-2016
ISS and Space Engineer Mods created by Harbinger
Space Engineers developed by

This tour is 50 minutes long.

Published on May 21, 2016
One of the most detailed tours of the ISS from American astronaut Steven Swanson!!!

With the idea of building a Lunar Base, I thought I would see what using a pair of VR googles like the Google Cardboard viewer would be like.
I bought a BNEXT VR Headset

3D VR Headset Virtual Reality Glasses for iPhone & Android - Play Your Best Mobile Games & 360 Movies With Soft & Comfortable New Goggles Plus Special Adjustable Eye Care System

by Bnext

Then down loaded an Android APP for my Samsung phone.  Now I am looking to see if NASA or others have done more VR with the Moon in mind.

Apollo 15 Moon Landing VR
Thomas Kole Educational
Celebrating the 45 year anniversary of the Apollo 15 mission!
Use your phone and Google Cardboard to simulate the 1971 Apollo 15 Moon Landing.
Feel the rumble as the spacecraft descends to the Lunar surface.
Walk on the moon like Scott and Irvin did, and unpack and drive the Lunar Rover.
NASA has this link for - NASA Apps For Smartphones, Tablets and Digital Media Players
It looks like I have some catching up on my viewing.
I am hoping that I can find ideas for how a viewer might partake in building a Lunar Base or at least seeing how it might be done.
Since we haven't built one I may have my work cut out.  Then again, you may know of something already done or who might be working on such a project.
I am wondering if playing with VR applications will help promote the -
SpecialK | April 26, 2017 at 9:10 pm | Categories: Uncategorized | URL:



Saturday, April 22, 2017

Moon 101 - A Course in Lunar Science for non-specialists

Back in 2010 I looked at the Moon 101 Lecture Series that was given in 2008.
It is a very good starting point to look at the Moon and as mentioned in the lecture, we now have additional data from the more recent missions that build on what was said here.
For any of us that might like a refresher course, let me post again the links and topics covered. I am re-watching and looking for ideas as to what the general Internet audiance might like to see when we got back to the Moon with humans on the lunar surface.
If you don't have the time to listen to all the lectures you still might like to look at slides from the lectures. Very informative.
Moon 101 - A Course in Lunar Science for non-specialists
Presentation materials for a course of lectures at NASA Johnson Space Center
June-October, 2008


Moon 101 Lecture Series

These lectures were produced by NASA and posted on this website with permission.
The following presentations are included in the lecture series.
Introduction to the Moon, Dr. Paul Spudis
The Lunar Environment, Dr. Wendell Mendell
Physiography and Geology of the Moon, Dr. Paul Spudis
The Lunar Surface, Dr. Jeff Plescia
The Lunar Crust, Dr. Gary Lofgren
The Lunar Interior, Dr. Jeff Plescia
The Lunar Polar Environment, Dr. Ben Bussey
A Brief, Selective History of the Apollo Program, Dr. Dean Eppler
Future Scientific Exploration of the Moon, Dr. Paul Spudis
Lunar Meteorites, Dr. Kevin Righter
NOTE: Slide only versions of the lectures are available at Spudis Lunar Resources.

In the first presentation of the Moon 101 lecture series, Dr. Paul Spudis gives an introduction to the Moon, providing an overview of the more detailed Moon 101 lectures to follow. The presentation begins by describing the nature of the Moon as a heavily cratered rocky planet, and compares the general properties of the Moon to those of the Earth and Mars. Global images and elemental composition maps are then followed by discussions of: the thermal and micrometeorite environments on the lunar surface; the Moon's orbit and resulting eclipses and lunar librations as viewed from Earth; surface topography; moment of inertia; surface morphology and physiography; landscapes and terrains; the surface lighting environment; regolith and dust; and the origin of the Moon. The presentation concludes with a review of past and current robotic exploration missions to the Moon.
Lesson presented: 06⁄04⁄2008
Lesson produced: 09⁄05⁄2008
Duration: 56 minutes 5 seconds

Dr. Mendell's presentation addresses a multitude of aspects of the Lunar Environment. The first section reviews the many external factors that act upon the Moon and how their effects that need to be understood by the lunar designer or explorer. He chooses to discuss the environmental factors through their connection to the Moon's location in the universe, in the Milky Way Galaxy, in our solar system near the Sun, and in proximity to the Earth. The effects of the solar wind plasma, meteoroids, and solar insolation are important on the Moon because it lacks a magnetic field and a substantial atmosphere. He describes the Earth-Moon system as a “binary planet” and discusses the Lunar Coordinate System and the importance of the Moon’s polar regions. The second part of Dr. Mendell's presentation covers the implications of the environment for living and working on the Moon. We have little to no experience in habitat design for a low-gravity planet. The Moon's 'lumpy' structure introduces irregularities in its gravitational field, increasing the cost of maintaining low orbits. He goes on to discuss the Moon's tenuous atmosphere, its unusual surface reflectivity, ejecta from surface impacts (why we need to worry about this), lunar seismic events (moonquakes, impact events – even ours), and lastly emanations of gases from beneath the surface.
Lesson presented: June 18, 2008
Lesson published: June 27, 2008
Duration: 54 minutes 12 seconds

Dr. Paul Spudis discusses the physiography and geology of the moon including: terrains, landforms, topography (photogeology), impact crater formation, excavation, ejecta emplacement, secondaries, impact melting and shock metamorphism, lunar meteorites, flux through time; cataclysm, periodicity, correlation with terrestrial record and other planets.
Lesson presented: July 2, 2008
Lesson published: July 9, 2008
Duration: 58 minutes 40 seconds

The fourth presentation in the Moon 101 series, Dr. Jeff Plescia discusses – dust, rocks, slopes, trafficability (geotechnical properties); formation and evolution of regolith, interface with bedrock; crater size-frequency distributions, exotic components, highland⁄mare mixing, vertical and lateral transport of material; chemical and mineral composition, physical state, properties, and surface characteristics.
Lesson presented: July 16, 2008
Lesson produced: July 23, 2008
Duration: 49 minutes 27 seconds

Dr. Gary Lofgren discusses the current understanding of the crust of the Moon. The presentation begins with a brief overview of the Moon's surface, and discusses the prevailing Magma Ocean Theory resulting in the formation of the primary, or original, lunar crust. The crust was subsequently modified by impact bombardment and volcanic activity. Compositional variations in the lunar crust are then described as three major terrains: Procellarum KREEP terrain, Feldspathic Highlands terrain, and the South Pole-Aitken basin terrain. It is noted that studying rock samples is the key to understanding the lunar crust. The presentation then focuses on the characteristics and ages of the major rock types found on the Moon: basaltic rocks from mare lava flows, anorthositic rocks in the lunar highlands, impact breccias and melt rocks, and volcanic glasses. The lecture concludes with a brief review of the rock sampling conducted during the Apollo missions, and lessons learned for future lunar surface exploration.
Lesson presented: 07⁄30⁄2008
Lesson produced: 08⁄21⁄2008
Duration: 54 minutes 11 seconds

In the sixth presentation of the Moon 101 lecture series, Dr. Jeff Plescia discusses the current understanding of the interior of the Moon. The presentation begins with a brief overview of the Moon from a geophysical perspective, and discusses the prevailing Giant impact Theory and Magma Ocean Theory resulting in the formation of the Moon and its differentiation into crust, mantle, and core. The presentation then focuses on the current understanding of the chemistry, mineralogy, and thickness of the lunar crust; the boundaries, depth, and mineralogy of the mantle; and the size and composition of the lunar core. Geophysical parameters of the Moon are then discussed, including: the seismic nature of the Moon, including shallow, deep, and thermal moonquakes and impact events; the lunar gravity field; magnetism; and heat flow.
Lesson presented: 08⁄13⁄2008
Lesson produced: 08⁄20⁄2008
Duration: 1 hour 30 seconds

In the seventh presentation of the Moon 101 lecture series, Dr. Ben Bussey discusses the current understanding of the polar regions of the Moon. The presentation begins with a brief overview of the geometry of the Moon's axis of rotation with respect to the ecliptic plane, the resulting polar environment on the lunar surface, and the proposition that a polar region, particularly the south pole, would be a good location for a lunar outpost. Using imagery data from the Clementine and SMART-1 missions, the majority of the presentation focuses on how local topography at the poles result in two specific areas of interest: permanently shadowed craters possibly containing water ice, and topographically high areas that receive enhanced illumination from sunlight due to their elevated position with respect to the surrounding terrain. The presentation concludes with discussions about how radar instruments on the Chandrayaan-1 and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter
Lesson presented: 08⁄27⁄2008
Lesson produced: 09⁄09⁄2008
Duration: 58 minutes 53 seconds

In the eighth presentation of the Moon 101 lecture series, Dr. Dean Eppler provides a brief and selective history of the Apollo program. The presentation begins with President Kennedy's message to Congress on National Priorities in May of 1961, and his desire to commit the nation to the exploration of the Moon. The presentation then focuses on several key efforts that made the Apollo program successful, including national will, money, heavy lift launch vehicles, lunar landers, space suits, operational practices, and luck. An overview of each Apollo mission to the Moon then follows, including mission facts and statistics, results, and lessons learned. The presentation concludes with discussions on how the Constellation Program could use the lessons learned from Apollo to benefit the future explorations of the Moon.
Lesson presented: 09⁄10⁄2008
Lesson produced: 10⁄10⁄2008
Duration: 56 minutes 6 seconds

In the ninth presentation of the Moon 101 lecture series, Dr. Paul Spudis discusses current ideas for the future exploration of and operations on the Moon. The presentation begins with a brief overview of why the Moon is important and the value of exploration, particularly human spaceflight. Points of discussion included using the Moon as a school for exploration, a place to learn how to live and work off planet, and a stepping stone to the Solar System. The presentation then focuses on how geological exploration is conducted, including reconnaissance and field work, field and lab analyses, mapping, and planning surveys, traverses, and transects. The importance of surface mobility to accomplish these tasks, and the proper mix and use of humans and robots are highlighted. The presentation then focuses on the use of emplaced science stations and observatories for geophysics, astrophysics, heliophysics, and earth observations. The presentation concludes with discussions summarizing new exploration approaches and the challenges facing these approaches, such as lighting conditions and lunar dust.
Lesson presented: 09⁄24⁄08
Lessom produced: 10⁄20⁄08
Duration: 1 hour 2 minutes 58 seconds

In the tenth presentation of the Moon 101 lecture series, Dr. Kevin Righter discusses lunar meteorites and how they have contributed to lunar science. The presentation begins with a brief overview describing what meteorites are and what they look like. Discussion then continues with where meteorites come from, and how lunar meteorites can be recognized from other meteorites. The presentation then focuses on NASA's involvement with the U.S. Antarctic meteorite program, and the curation of collected meteorites, including the tools and materials used. Other locations where meteorites have been collected, such as Africa, are also mentioned. The presentation concludes with discussions about how the study of lunar meteorites has contributed to the advancement of lunar science, including extending the range of ages for the eruption of basaltic lavas, refining the composition of the feldspathic highlands crust, and providing more data to better understand the impact flux at Moon.
Lesson presented: 10⁄08⁄08
Lesson produced: 10⁄28⁄08
Duration: 51 minutes 8 seconds

SpecialK | April 20, 2017 at 3:21 pm | Categories: Lunar Base Project | URL:


Moon and Mars - Videos