Russia eyes caves on moon for setting up a lunar base

Oct 20, 2011 By Nancy Atkinson, Universe Today

For the time being, it appears NASA has set aside any ambitions to return to the Moon with human missions. But Russia may consider sending cosmonauts to the lunar surface to set up a colony using natural caves and possible volcanic tunnels as protection from the harsh lunar environment.

“If it turns out that the has a number of caves that can provide some protection from radiation and meteor showers, it could be an even more interesting destination than previously thought,” said veteran cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev, quoted in an article by Reuters.

Krikalev served on board two different space stations and flew on the space shuttle. He now leads ’s Star City cosmonaut training center outside Moscow. He and Russian scientists discussed the possible Moon base a forum on the future of manned spaceflight.

The image above is from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter showing a cave or pit found in the Sea of Tranquility. Scientists have estimated the depth of the pit at over 100 meters, and several other caves have been found with orbiting spacecraft. Lunar scientists are studying the images to determine if an extended lava tube system still exists beneath the surface.

“This new discovery that the moon may be a rather porous body could significantly alter our approach to founding lunar bases,” said Krikalev. “There wouldn’t be any need to dig the lunar soil and build walls and ceilings. It would be enough to use an inflatable module with a hard outer shell to — roughly speaking — seal the caves.”

Reuters quoted Russian scientist Boris Kryuchkov as saying the first such lunar colonies could be built by 2030.

Krikalev has more than two years cumulative time in space His first long-duration flight to the Soviet space station Mir was in 1988, and he did back-to-back increments on Mir flight starting in May 1991 and returning to Earth in March 1992. While he was in orbit, the Soviet Union disintegrated and Mir became a Russian space station.

He became the first Russian to fly a Shuttle mission on STS-60 in February 1994. His second Shuttle flight took the Unity node to the International Station on STS-88 in December 1998. He was a member of the Station’s Expedition 1 crew, launching in October 2000 and returning to Earth in March 2001. He launched as commander of Expedition 11 in 2005.

Explore further: Computer model shows moon's core surrounded by liquid and it's caused by Earth's gravity

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User comments : 34

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Dennis_Cutter
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 20, 2011
Sorry but someone is already are living in these holes, like the rats the are. They are the source of all recent flying saucer reports. see Iron Sky, lol
GDM
2.3 / 5 (3) Oct 20, 2011
Why does it have to be the Russians? Isn't the US also capable, or have we lost the desire to lead?
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.1 / 5 (15) Oct 20, 2011
Why does it have to be the Russians? Isn't the US also capable, or have we lost the desire to lead?
The US has chosen to pursue the high ground. Exploration has always been military in nature, specifically the need to secure advantage over ones competition, be they the natural elements or the next tribe.

Security is mankinds FIRST concern. It is the reason we and all animals are curious. That we derive pleasure from it indicates how important it is to our survival. Just like sex which is only a small part of the procreative process.

So the US is headed for the martian moons and the asteroid belt. They want to secure this ground before potential enemies can, because from these vantage points one can menace both mars and to a more ominous extent the entire inner system, by redirecting asteroids as impactors.

Not to mention that these locations are where all the most easily acquired and processed materials can be found.
CHollman82
3 / 5 (8) Oct 20, 2011
Why does it have to be the Russians? Isn't the US also capable, or have we lost the desire to lead?


We're done... we've turned our back on everything that made us great.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.9 / 5 (15) Oct 20, 2011
Not to worry, securing and colonizing the inner system will be a cooperative Endeavor with every Player having their own Tasks to accomplish. This will no doubt take place in an atmosphere of lively competition. Humans are unfortunately a crisis-driven species and need a bit of peril in order to get them to sacrifice and commit.

Luckily Things can never get out of hand, no matter how bad they may look... for above a certain Level there are no sides. Or rather there is only one Side. Empire.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.9 / 5 (14) Oct 20, 2011
Why does it have to be the Russians? Isn't the US also capable, or have we lost the desire to lead?


We're done... we've turned our back on everything that made us great.
Thats what they said about Apple. But then Jobs returned and it became clear that they were only leapfrogging.

The moon is small potatoes. Good for borscht I guess.
GDM
5 / 5 (1) Oct 20, 2011
There may be many asteroids loaded with valuable minerals, but the moon has been bombarded with them for billions of years. Seems to me that means easy pickings. Just look for a crater.
Robert_Wells
5 / 5 (4) Oct 20, 2011
i'm not sure how to take these comments.

TheGhostofOtto1923
, it seems like you fade into and out of sanity. its almost like you start out on track, lay a decent foundation, then from there it goes downhill, but someone you end up putting up a decent roof. i just don't know about you my friend...
Jeddy_Mctedder
1.6 / 5 (9) Oct 20, 2011
the best thing the moon is good for is being used to destroy the earth.
Mayday
5 / 5 (2) Oct 20, 2011
Too often we look at other bodies with an Earth-bias. Our planet has plate tectonics and is very geologically active. Inactive bodies will all have vast caves, caverns, lava tubes and empty hollows below the surface. These places will be where all the action is. The surface of the moon is a beaten crust protecting an inner hollowed and caverned domain of great interest. To not be exploring that body is a great wasted opportunity right on our doorstep.
Vendicar_Decarian
4.4 / 5 (7) Oct 20, 2011
"Isn't the US also capable, or have we lost the desire to lead?" - GDM

America is going back to it's roots. Horses, stage coaches, cowboys and the famed wild wild west of lore.

The future has no place for America.
plasticpower
2 / 5 (3) Oct 20, 2011
The Russians are know for a lot of talk and not much walk. In a few months we won't even remember this.
Vendicar_Decarian
4.2 / 5 (5) Oct 21, 2011
And in just a few years, America will be just a dim memory of a dim nation.

Russia on the other hand doesn't have the resources to build and continuously supply a moon base.

China will soon have the capacity and the technology.

Meanwhile, in America, McDonalds is becoming an up-scale restaurant.

Osiris1
1 / 5 (2) Oct 21, 2011
The Chinese are quite practical. They know as we do that the moon is rich in fusion fuel, but they do not have the bane of a political establishment bought and paid for to the very soul by the petrochemical industry. Look at the campaign of that governor of Texas, owned by billionaires according to Al-Jazeera. At least the Chinese socialists have not lost focus on what is needed....get to the moon...and fast. Easy to defend it with lasers powered by fusion generators. Those chemical rockets sent to harm them would blow up sooooo good.
DGBEACH
5 / 5 (1) Oct 21, 2011
Russia has already proven themselves on the moon!

http://www.astron...cks.aspx

antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (3) Oct 21, 2011
Why does it have to be the Russians?

Counter-question: Why not? What's so bad about countries other than the US doing stuff?

Krikalev has more than two years cumulative time in space

Hot damn. That's not something everyone has on their CV.

The Russians are know for a lot of talk and not much walk.
57% of all objects launched into space are Russian. They have undertaken many probe flights to the moon (more than the US).

Comparisons and numbers can be found here
http://www.thespa...e/1598/1

CHollman82
1 / 5 (3) Oct 21, 2011
Too often we look at other bodies with an Earth-bias. Our planet has plate tectonics and is very geologically active. Inactive bodies will all have vast caves, caverns, lava tubes and empty hollows below the surface. These places will be where all the action is. The surface of the moon is a beaten crust protecting an inner hollowed and caverned domain of great interest. To not be exploring that body is a great wasted opportunity right on our doorstep.


There is no evidence that there was ever volcanism or plate tectonics on the moon, or of a molten core for that matter...
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.1 / 5 (13) Oct 21, 2011
Otto
it seems like you fade into and out of sanity. its almost like you start out on track, lay a decent foundation, then from there it goes downhill, but someone you end up putting up a decent roof. i just don't know about you my friend...
Hmmm you got anything specific to say bob? Anything I said in particular that puzzles you? You think maybe the inner system won't be developed like the Americas were for instance?
the best thing the moon is good for is being used to destroy the earth
The moon is a significant gravity well. Getting materials into and out of it costs energy. The asteroid belt however has unlimited resources which can be processed in microgravity. And as it is further up the solar gravity well, materials (and projectiles) can be sent toward earth, the moon and mars cheaply. This same strategic economic and military advantage exists with phoebos and deimos. Think Gibraltar. Or the Dardanelles.
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.1 / 5 (13) Oct 21, 2011
Sorry do you think the word 'military' is obscene in regard to colonizing the inner system? You think the inner system is something like Antarctica perhaps?

Imagine a malevolent religionist culture which manages to secure the space around mars and can use it's gravity-assist to reach the asteroid belt. Imagine this malevolence dumping a large rock on a moon settlement just to show that they and Allah/Jehovah/siddhartha mean to spread peace and love throughout mankind -or else.

Humans will be humans whether we like it or not. Security in the face of any and all threats either natural or human-derived, will be humanitys FIRST Priority.

Luckily, threats like these offer the greatest impetus to Progress. And since, either way, they are INEVITABLE, then it behooves Those in Charge to be the ones presenting these threats. So that they can be Managed to produce the most beneficial Outcomes while posing the least danger.

Come on. Am I the only one that this occurs to?
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Oct 21, 2011
The moon is a significant gravity well. Getting materials into and out of it costs energy.

Not much judging by the shots of the Apollo landers launching from the Moon. And having a bit of gravity might actually be rather helpful - especially if we want to add some sort of refinement/extraction process before anything is launched.

Getting material to the Moon costs as much (even slightly less) than getting it to an asteroid.

You think maybe the inner system won't be developed like the Americas were for instance?

As long as they aren't self sufficient the money drain for any kind of (military) presence will not be economical. And once they are self sufficient it will certainly be like the Americas (i.e. with the relevant colonies seceeding into independence)

TheGhostofOtto1923
4.1 / 5 (13) Oct 21, 2011
Getting material to the Moon costs as much (even slightly less) than getting it to an asteroid.
Soft landings are pretty costly. Getting robotics to mars for gravity-assist is comparable to getting it to the moon. It just subjects payloads to more radiation. This may be less of a concern if the payload is suicidal jihadis hoping to drop a rock on London.
As long as they aren't self sufficient the money drain for any kind of (military) presence will not be economical.
Your money becomes worthless if the enemy wins. Space exploration, and also planetary exploration, has always been military in nature. The first Russian space stations were armed. Sputnik was launched on a ICBM. So were the mercury missions.

The shuttle was designed as a military vehicle with it's own secure and hardened complex at vandenburg; it's robot successor is classified military. Certainly the Americas were conquered before they could be colonized.
rubberman
2.3 / 5 (3) Oct 21, 2011
GOO....America is on the verge of economic collapse because of trivial wars on this planet....The concept of military supremecy having anything to do with space outside of a near Earth orbit is simply rediculous. Dr. Evil has a better shot with his Allan Parsons fricken laser....
GDM
not rated yet Oct 21, 2011
VenDec: "America is going back to it's roots. Horses, stage coaches, cowboys and the famed wild wild west of lore."
...aarrgghh No new Texans!
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.3 / 5 (12) Oct 21, 2011
"Isn't the US also capable, or have we lost the desire to lead?" - GDM

America is going back to it's roots. Horses, stage coaches, cowboys and the famed wild wild west of lore.

The future has no place for America.
Hey VD you mean like this?
http://www.youtub...a_player

-A particularly bad episode. So the US will be like Ontario then -?
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.2 / 5 (10) Oct 21, 2011
GOO....America is on the verge of economic collapse because of trivial wars on this planet....The concept of military supremecy having anything to do with space outside of a near Earth orbit is simply rediculous. Dr. Evil has a better shot with his Allan Parsons fricken laser....
You are naive. And shortsighted. And a bad speller. You fail to take into account the breathtaking acceleration of technological progress. And the potential for it's misuse.
http://en.wikiped...e_Agency
Eric_B
5 / 5 (3) Oct 22, 2011
otto...

"he moon is a significant gravity well. Getting materials into and out of it costs energy. "

the moon has water that can be split for fuel.

the moon has tremendous solar thermal differential between areas that are and are not in shade...duh.

an ORK generator in one of these caves or craters and you are on your way.
Callippo
1 / 5 (1) Oct 22, 2011
Why does it have to be the Russians? Isn't the US also capable, or have we lost the desire to lead?
Easy man, the Russians cannot even handle the regular ISS traffic, when they're expected to do so... Everything what they can do well is to make PR puffs about their alleged plans. Because it costs nothing and they could even get some money from international agencies for it.

After all, for what such lunar base should be good for?
Ober
5 / 5 (2) Oct 22, 2011
I'm sick of all these moon/space stories. They build our hopes up, then projects get cancelled and changed.
I wish they'd just shut up and DO IT!!!! I don't care what country(ies) does it, just someone MAN-UP and get up there!! Either humans, or better still robots!!!! Why the hell doesn't the UN put together a space industry??? Probably because they can't solve backyard issues, let alone go to the moon!!!!! How hard is it to land a rover (with jet packs) into one of those caves???
Callippo
1 / 5 (3) Oct 22, 2011
The answer is simple - we have no oil and resources, but we have twice times of people, who just want their living standard. The space travel has no meaning until we implement cold fusion technology into space-flights directly or into production of effective fuel. The usage of nuclear engines for starts in Earth atmosphere would lead into global contamination at the case of disaster (and we even have no such engines developed from the same reason).
Jotaf
5 / 5 (2) Oct 23, 2011
I look forward to seeing if these moon caves turn out to be good settling places. HOWEVER, veteran astronauts and scientists talking about it never gets me excited. It's just not up to them. If a fat politician talks about it, then yes, there's a slim chance of it happening. Sad but true.
Fagamemnon
2.3 / 5 (3) Oct 23, 2011
After all, for what such lunar base should be good for?


Come on man, use your imagination! We know you have one.
Callippo
1 / 5 (1) Oct 23, 2011
..A military base? When people constructed isolated buildings at remote areas, they always built some weaponry first...
wukka
not rated yet Oct 23, 2011
Right on Russkies, go for it! Obama is a poser JFK wanna-be...NASA is done man, couldn't get to the moon if our lives depended on it.
https://www.youtu...EpeKMNQI
http://www.imdb.c...t0356098

rubberman
1 / 5 (1) Oct 24, 2011
I can't believe you called me naive and shortsighted....then referenced something from WIKIPEDIA...lol...an article about the IRANIAN space agency. OK GOO, do this math - The time and money required to build a moon base that could house 10 people, swapping constuction crews out every 6 months. Considering the ISS carried a completed price tag of 20 billion $ (that's year 2000 $) cost's 3 billion a year to operate and maintain, and was 25 years from design to finished product. Now you want us all to believe that any one country can afford to foot a bill that will be easily 4 times that much, and do it how fast? Because at the rate earth is going, 25 years from now, food for everyone will likely be alot higher priority than the scary russian moon base.....oh yeah, sorry for whatever i mispelled.