Be careful what you wish for you might get it. We needed detailed information on the dangers of radiation for spacefarers so we instrumented the LRO and Curiosity missions to give us this data. The answer we got was alarming and not what we wanted at all.
The radiation danger to space faring humans is at least twice as bad as we had thought, our old designs were not good enough, all our designs were deadly. Also the worst danger is from Galactic Cosmic Rays (GCR). They may not be as concentrated as a solar storm, or Coronal Mass Ejection (CME), but they are 24/7/365 and they are deeply penetrating. They are so penetrating that a small amount of shielding, say a metal hull or a meter of regolith, just makes the danger worse.
Virtually every spaceship and every space habitat that you have ever seen, every picture, every movie, is now obsolete, kaput.
The only reasonable material for the shielding habitats is lunar regolith, the ground up rock that covers the Moon’s surface. A number of people have designed inflatable habitats for the lunar environment but they have never been shown more than a meter of cover.
Basic calculations of the mass of air above your head on Earth show, that to provide similar shielding on the Moon, you would need at least 5 meters of lunar regolith over your habitat. This is the 5 meter rule.
The problem then is how to excavate large trenches on the Moon at a reasonable cost, lay the inflatable habitat on the bottom, and then fill the trench in again: this is the Big Moon Dig.
The innovation here is to organize the effort over the Internet in a Knowledge Cell. A pair of modest (smaller than a golf cart) execrator robots will be sent to the Moon. The people of the Earth will be invited to try to quality for the Big Moon Dig team. This process will involve a series of MOOC courses, and difficult testing. Only the best will move on to practice digging with a remote robot pair on Earth.
The Diggers will operate in two person teams working remotely from different locations. One will be the robot’s safety officer and the other the digger proper. The Execrators must have some autonomy particularly in matters of safety. It is alright if the process takes months.
The Product or Service:
Our product then is a very big trench, dug at a very remote location, at a cost we can afford. The extra benefit is the revitalization of buy-in for space exploration within the hearts of tens of the thousands of people on Earth who dig this trench.
This is a very new way, a 21st century way, a democratic way, to do space exploration.
Won’t you join us for the Big Moon Dig? You can follow the action at http://woodwaredesigns.com/EBook/EBook.html .