Train on the Moon? US to Explore Lunar Railway

Accord­ing to an arti­cle from The Eco­nom­ic Times, the U.S. Depart­ment of Defense has con­tract­ed with defense and aero­space com­pa­ny Northrop Grum­man to build a lunar in prepa­ra­tion for a per­ma­nent human colony on the Moon. 

“[T]his vision­ary endeav­or to facil­i­tate the seam­less trans­porta­tion of both goods and peo­ple across the lunar sur­face, herald­ing a new era of human pres­ence and eco­nom­ic activ­i­ty beyond Earth, as per a report by The Sun,” the arti­cle states.

The project, dubbed “Moon Train,” might sound sil­ly, but the lunar sur­face is equiv­a­lent to the size of Africa, mak­ing rail­way infra­struc­ture crit­i­cal to the mate­ri­als and equip­ment need­ed to explore and col­o­nize the Moon. The con­tract, part of the 10-year Lunar Archi­tec­ture (LunA-10) Capa­bil­i­ty Study, cov­ers research around the basics of devel­op­ing a lunar rail net­work, includ­ing resources, con­struc­tion using robots, , main­te­nance, and repair. The final report is expect­ed this June. 

This tan­gi­ble step toward col­o­niza­tion of fol­lows hypo­thet­i­cal and occa­sion­al­ly heat­ed debates last year prompt­ed by two books on the top­ic: City on Mars: Can We Set­tle Space, We Set­tle Space, and We Real­ly Thought This Through? by Kel­ly Wein­er­smith and Zach Wein­er­smith and The First City on Mars: An Urban Plan­ner’s Guide to Set­tling the Red Plan­et by Justin Hol­lan­der (both men­tioned in Plan­e­ti­zen’s Top Plan­ning Books of 2023). While many peo­ple are fas­ci­nat­ed and excit­ed by the idea of build­ing from scratch on new plan­e­tary bod­ies, oth­ers say our and resources should be focused on solv­ing prob­lems on the plan­et we cur­rent­ly have.

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