- establishing an initial infrastructure on the Moon -


Lunar polar ice contains both water and organics including carbon and nitrogen. Additionally, KREEP rocks brought back during the Apollo program contains two other elements needed for plan growth -- phosphorus and potassium. So, plant growth for food and fibers could be an early activity of the UniHab.

Greenhouse Project
At the University of Arizona - Tucson, the Prototype Greenhouse Project has worked to demonstrate plant growth within a greenhouse. They are developing greenhouses that would provide for all of the caloric and water & air processing needs of a crew on the Moon. The area within the UniHab dedicated to a hydroponic greenhouse is based upon this work. A current concept for the UniHab's greenhouse would be to have tracks hanging from the ceiling that would allow multiple layers of curtains, interspersed with LEDs. These curtains could be pushed against each other thereby opening up paths for harvesting. In this way one could make maximum use of the space since few walkways would be needed.

One goal would be to supply all of the nutritional needs from the greenhouse within the UniHab.

For meat, perhaps one of the best sources would be to grow fish such as tilapia. But what could they eat? It is proposed that vertical curtains containing LEDs and spirulina flowing through bags in the curtain would provide the food necessary for the fish. Although some think that lab-grown meat would be the way to go, that technology is not advanced enough for Earth let alone in space.

The UniHab is designed to provide the volume necessary to feed a crew of eight. Besides reducing the UniHab's reliance on shipping food from Earth, the harvesting of food and preparing it for meals would provide a nice, daily routine. It would be a complex but fascinating challenge to develop a plan to go from plants to table in a manner and with the right timing so as to provide the nutritional and culinary diversity needed by the crew. Work within an analogue UniHab could begin to address this challenge. Perhaps a "Lunar Cookbook" could result.

Next: Preparing Food