A space station on the moon could be very useful to provide future space missions with a stopping point between Earth and deeper space. Why haven’t we built one yet?
One reason we haven’t built a space station on the moon is that we don’t send people there very often. We have only managed to put astronauts on the moon six times so far. These moon landings took place in a three-year period between 1969 and 1972 and were part of a series of space missions called the Apollo missions.
The type of rocket used to get the astronauts to the moon was an extremely powerful one called a Saturn V, which is no longer produced. This means that, at the moment, we do not have a rocket powerful enough to get people to the moon – let alone build a space station there.
We are starting to build powerful rockets again. Space exploration company SpaceX is creating newer and bigger rockets which are capable of taking the weight of astronauts to the moon. NASA is also planning new missions to take astronauts to the moon.
However, there is a big difference between a short trip and building a space station on the moon, which is extremely difficult. One way to do it would be to build it in pieces on Earth, take the pieces to the moon and assemble them there. This would be like how the International Space Station was built: pieces were taken into space and then put together by astronauts aboard the space shuttle.
However, the International Space Station is only 250 miles (400 kilometers) from the surface of Earth. The moon is 230,000 miles (384,000 km). Each trip to the moon would take about three days and would require incredible amounts of fuel, potentially adding to climate problems on Earth.
A much better idea would be to build as much of the base as possible from materials found on the moon. Lunar concrete is being tested on Earth as a possible building material.
On Earth you would make concrete from gravel or sand, cement and water. We have none of those things on the moon, but what we do have is lunar dust and sulphur. These can be melted and mixed together. Once this mixture cools, it produces a solid material that is stronger than many materials we use on Earth.