The shift from surface telerobotic outposts based on cluster module systems to excavated structures would mark the ultimate transition to a permanent settlement. Though still likely based exclusively on teleoperation for some time and focused on the objective of self-replication of its own system with indigenous materials, the initial excavated settlement would establish the diversified industrial and resource infrastructure necessary for highly safe and economical colonization by human beings. When the first prospective permanent settlers arrive, there will be little question of their survival even in the event of long disruptions of communication or transportation with Earth. The functional foundations of a sustainable civilization will have already been established and long demonstrated.
The basic point to excavation at this stage of telerobotic settlement is to economically create large sheltered structures from a minimally processed indigenous material –natural rock- that can increase the scale and ‘fineness’ of possible industry by providing an environment shielded from dust and radiation. True fabrication –as opposed to assembly of pre-made parts- is not practical in the ambient environment of places like the Moon and Mars and light built-up shelters can only provide modest protection. Some fabrication would be possible with factories based on cluster outpost modules (especially with the advent of nanotechnology), but limited by the very small scale of cluster systems themselves, limited as they are to being transported as whole units from Earth. Within an excavated complex, robots can engage in the assembly and repair of systems at a very small component scale, which in turn reduces the minimum scale of components shipped from Earth while increasing the cost-efficiency of their transportation. Over time, the settlement would shift its spectrum of import supply to progressively smaller commodity goods –like discrete electronics parts- and scarcer raw materials in bulk block and granular form –the highest efficiency forms one can ship anything across space. Bit by bit even those would be whittled away as the settlement establishes increasing diversity of indigenous sources and fabrication capability for everything its systems are based on, at which point self-sufficiency would be achieved and the settlement would be ready for permanent human colonization.
The initial excavated settlement facilities will be simple affairs, unpressurized and based primarily on the same type of grid-vaulted structures employed in ‘room and pillar’ sub-surface mining operations –as demonstrated by such complexes as the Kansa City Subtropolis –which may some day actually serve as a test site for habitat systems. A single level complex would be used at first, though multiple levels may develop later. Given enough area in the near-surface strata, only a few levels may ultimately be needed. With reduced gravity, clear spans within the complex could be much greater –several times the already generous 12 meter spans common to terrestrial mines, though geo-engineers are likely to be conservative with the engineering of spaces for these teleoperated facilities given that they can’t personally see and feel the rock being worked on. An outer series or row of open chambers at the entrances of the complex would be used rather like a garage space to shelter most of the mobile robots once relegated to the exposed environment as well as providing space for dirtier or dustier industrial activity based largely on the use of InchWorm Workstation Platforms with a Road Tile foundation. Further inward, dust-proof bulkhead doors would be installed, leading into cleaning bays akin to those of an electronics clean room. Beyond those would be the main spaces of the complex, home primarily to elaborate InchWorm Service Complexes with breadboard backplane panels, thermal management panels, and LED or electroluminescent lighting lining most surfaces of the structure and attached to the internal grid of quick-connect anchor sockets applied to the rock wall on rock face stabilizing pins.
Integrated ISC production lines would be established within the vaulted grid, often arrayed to service entrances specialized for the delivery of particular raw materials –eventually delivered primarily by Banana Monorail and ART vehicles as permanent supply locations are established. A number of vaults would be set aside for bulk materials storage and may employ the first airtight bulkhead structures. A packet carrier system would traverse the complex, linking to an automated warehouse facility very similar to the SuperStore complexes featured on Aquarius marine settlements and larger Asgard orbital settlements. The first large pressurized structures would likely be used for automated farming, setup primarily as a means to use plant, algae, and bacteria as means of low energy raw materials refinery and production of organic chemical feedstocks. They would rely on LED and fiber optic lighting with large heliostat arrays setup on the outside surface of the complex. By the time of initial human settlement, farming space may be available for many times the need of the first settlers.
The first human habitat structures would be long-term but transitional habitats similar to those pneumatic hulled structures previously described for possible early surface outpost use, only the rock chambers of the complex would provide the primary enclosure rather than space frame structures enclosed in shielding panels. Their interiors would be outfit the same as well, employing plug-in framing, panels, and fixtures that are anchored to pass-through sockets in the pressure hull membrane linking to the anchor grid installed on the complex rock faces. With such generous clear chamber spans in reduced gravity, these initial manned habitats would be quite spacious and comfortable, but still nothing in comparison to later habitats based on sealing-off and pressurizing large sections of the complex with airtight bulkheads, eliminating the need for the membrane pressure hulls and creating much larger open spaces. And eventually even these large habitats would be supplanted by the Atrium Habitats of the human colonization phase, as we will detail later.
- Life In Avalon
- Telerobotic Outpost
- Excavated Colonies
- Surface Transit Fleets
- Surface Transit Waystation
- Mass Launcher System
- Lunar/Planetary Space Elevator Systems
- Avalon Supporting Technologies