[ExI] The Moon's Cold Embrace

Keith Henson hkeithhenson at gmail.com
Thu Aug 13 22:28:56 UTC 2020

Adrian Tymes <atymes at gmail.com> wrote:


> And what exactly would you do, with regards to building more infrastructure
or establishing that ROI, that could not be done better by a robot (perhaps
autonomous, perhaps being teleoperated from Earth, whichever works better)?

It's a problem.  Humans would have to be a lot better than robots to
justify the much higher cost of having them on the moon.


> Nanotech isn't needed, actually.  There has been a lot of work on
macro-scale sets of tools that can self-replicate.

Do you have some URLs for this?  It's a topic I have followed for ages
and can't think of any work in this direction except for RepRap (or
however it is spelled)

The reason nanotech is expected to work is that it works in a small
universe of parts, atoms.

> One of the key ideas is that "sets of".  Rather than having one monolithic
nanoreplicator, you have vehicles to prospect & mine regolith for useful
ores; refineries & smelters to turn the ores into various types of
feedstock; printers, extruders, & tools to shape the feedstock into useful
components; assembly robots to put them all together; solar panels to power
the whole works; and central computers and communications to guide
everything (with oversight - but not minute-by-minute direction - provided
from Earth).  You make sure that each element is a thing that can be fully
constructed by the full set (this is most difficult for the vehicles, which
have many components of their own, but doable).  This means you're shipping
up multiple tons for a starter version of this full set, so it's in the
millions of dollars for transportation costs on top of obtaining that
initial set of things, but millions of dollars for a credible plan to
industrialize the Moon can be raised - especially with a good ROI.

I don't think anyone has generated a list of what is needed for a
lunar industrial site.  If you know of one, please let me know.

I have walked all over a square mile of an industrial plant that was
highly integrated.  In a corner of the plant, I found a machine that
wound the springs that held the brushes down on huge traction motors.
There was still a huge flow of parts from outside into the final



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