The first space colonies will live in tunnels on the Moon, where Japan expects to settle humans in 2030 in self-sufficient habitats that are already being designed by the Research Center for Space Colonies (RCSC) in Japan. Established in November 2017 and led by the first Japanese astronaut woman, Chiaki Mukai, this center has the task of developing the optimal technology to guarantee survival in space, and now works on Moon colonization technologies.
Within the vast universe, the natural satellite of the Earth is a very promising and very realistic destination given its proximity, as it takes only three days to arrive and therefore the Japanese Agency for Aerospace Exploration (JAXA) has joined the lunar conquest.
“If we go to the Moon, we will need to use its resources and make everything efficient while we recycle,” explains Mukai.
With this vision, the Japanese work on solving four major problems, namely, the design of a living habitat, energy and storage production, air and water recycling, and food growth.
The proposal of the RCSC presents a capsule-shaped cabin built in the tunnels already found under the surface of the Moon, an ideal location to protect against the effects of radiation.
Moon colonization is the primary objective of the Japanese researchers
“In the future, we imagine that there [on the Moon] could be several modules of life, coupled to each other,” says Mukai.
To guarantee the viability of this Lunar residence, scientists are prioritizing the study of the use of thermoelectricity (production of electricity by heat) for the supply of energy.
Also, the temperature difference between the inside of the colony and the outside is very high, thus, the thermoelectricity system is ideal for a colony on the Moon. Despite its simplicity, “systems have to be developed to keep the temperature constant”, explains Professor Tsutomu Iida.
The Japanese team focuses its studies on magnesium silicide (Mg2Si), a benign compound with abundant natural reserves with a “lifetime” of a decade, a period that could be expanded under the conditions in the outer space, the scientist estimates.
How to ensure food production is another point where RCSC researchers work and, in a small greenhouse, they test growing potatoes, tomatoes, basil, and lettuce submerged in water instead of being planted on land.
The Japanese have big plans for the development of the necessary technologies for the future Moon colonization and they are close to creating viable projects that will help astronauts live well on the Moon.