When sci-fi conjures up images of a lunar base, it's usually a metal structure on the surface with some kind of dome or shield protecting it. Science fact is sometimes stranger than its fiction, though, and our old friends the Russians have a whole new spin on the old "colonize the moon" plan.
In 2008, Japan's Kaguya spacecraft discovered a meters-deep hole on the surface of the moon. It's been long suspected that there's a vast system of tunnels beneath the moon due to its volcanic past. Russians are now postulating that it may be possible to access those tunnels through the hole in the moon's surface.
According to veteran spaceman Sergei Krikalyov, who heads Russia's Star City cosmonaut training center, "If it turns out that the moon has a number of caves that can provide some protection from radiation and meteor showers, it could be an even more interesting destination than previously thought."
A slide show displayed images of bunker-like inflatable tents to give viewers an idea of how a lunar base might look. "It would be enough to use an inflatable module with a hard outer shell to—roughly speaking—seal the caves," said Krikalyov.
The craziest part is how early the Russians are projecting they could have the first colonies built—2030. That's less than two decades away! What we're wondering more than anything is if this plan will relaunch American interest in their own space program. Could we be looking at the dawn of another space race?
Ideas like these don't have only real-world implications, either. Kickstarting a new endeavor toward the heavens would no doubt give much-needed fuel to speculative fiction.
What do you think? Does the idea of living on the moon inspire you?