Phase I – Materials Acquisition (5 Years)
This phase is devoted to initial mining, processing and refinement of raw materials into needed components such as water and fuel reserves as well as establishing basic infrastructure. There would be a minimal human presence to provide construction efforts which would be done primarily by robotic excavators. A multi-purpose vehicle would be delivered which could be fitted with an array of construction tools depending on the task. These vehicles would work round the clock extracting and stockpiling raw regolith and ice laden materials. Processors under human guidance would extract carbon, hydrogen and oxygen and other useful minerals.
An intermediary transportation system, an aerospace plan would ferry cargo and personnel between the earth and the moon. Next the intermediary rocket would receive the standardized payload module and carry it to the moon where it would land vertically and return again empty to earth orbit to await the next space plane. The advantage of a system that never enters Earth atmosphere is that it greatly reduces the fuel needed to go back and forth since simple control thrusters can send the rocket drifting on the proper trajectory, firing only to land and take-off from the moon.
Phase II – Initial Colonization (10 Years)
Personnel begin to arrive in greater numbers as colony assembly begins and raw materials are processed further into fuel, water and construction materials. The standardized payload module becomes the basic building block and may be interconnected with other modules via flexible junctions to form any building layout. The module becomes a mobile habitat and may be connected with other vehicle habitats to form a caravan. This allows the entire operation to relocate to more favorable sites with ease. The vehicles can also connect to form a complete ring for a stationary colony. Inflatable modules are also buried for radiation protection and form the basis of a more permanent colony until actual construction begins.
In this phase, concrete works begin utilizing lunar regolith and other materials to 3D print more permanent structures which will be eventually fitted with interiors. A pair of multi-purpose vehicles are fitted with a large printing scaffold and form a mobile 3D printing operation which can layout the city’s infrastructure in any urban pattern. A central core is constructed which will ultimately house necessary infrastructure, food atrium, communications and critical facilities while the colony will expand via buried habitat modules, linked to form concentric rings around the central core and can expand endlessly via more rings as the colony grows.
Permanent concrete foundations are interior fitted with technical equipment and components from earth while manufacturing of carbon nanotubes takes place using lunar carbon and recycled CO2. Carbon nanotube sheets form the basis for ultra-strong, flexible sheets for use in domes and other structures. The first permanent hotel appears in this phase and tourist vehicles called ‘Lunar frogs’ are capable of surface roving or low orbital hops and brief flights to significant sites.
The central core of the permanent colony consists of a grand atrium whose support columns are flanked with vertical green gardens for maximum sunlight and space efficiency. Grey water is circulated between membranes of the dome to act as a translucent radiation shield. Ultimately it is assumed that the next generation of spacecraft will be developed to ferry sizable payloads and crew from the earth to the moon in a single stage system.