Colonization of Mars (for example) has a pretty obvious and clear obstacle: The enormous distance. The Moon is kinda "close". Are there any theoretical (or technological) obstacles that would prevent us from living on the Moon?

For example, would we be able to maintain a permanent life support system? It was successful in several space station projects, such as Mir and obviosuly the ISS, but the Moon is farther away - a life support system needs a constant supply, but bringing water, oxygen, and food would take some days, so immediate intervention is not possible, if something goes wrong.


2 Answers 2


I don't think technology is preventing us from living on the Moon or even Mars at this point. I think budget and time are the main limitations--the time it takes to execute a mission to start a base on another world, not time to wait for new technology. Improved technology could help us come up with solutions to some of the budget and time hurdles--and make the entire enterprise a safer bet.

Also, the longer we wait, the more data we will have about those environments which will allow us to be more efficient in where and how we build a base.

Keep in mind that neither lunar nor martian colonies have to be self-sustainable. Resupply missions can take place, and improved technology will also help our resupply missions be more efficient.

For more information:

  • $\begingroup$ Self-sustainability is very important in the aspect of costs, isn't it? I mean, I can't imagine that we'd be able to maintain a Moon base for months or years that relies on Earth supply from everything. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 7, 2013 at 20:58
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    $\begingroup$ They only have to be self-sustainable to a degree. They don't have to be 100% self-sustainable like an interstellar colony would. That degree of sustainability is something that we do have the technology to pull off. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage
    Commented Nov 7, 2013 at 20:59
  • $\begingroup$ Oh, yes, I see. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 7, 2013 at 21:09
  • $\begingroup$ The problem with a mars colony is that we currently have no data on the long-term effects the Mars gravity has on the human body. Various cosmonauts on Mir have proven that humans are capable of surviving more than a year in microgravity, but how that experience transfers to lower-than-normal gravity is currently unknown. $\endgroup$
    – Philipp
    Commented Nov 11, 2013 at 10:50
  • $\begingroup$ @Zoltán Schmidt There's ice on the moon plus sunlight for electricity & with that you have oxygen to breath as well as water to drink, throw hydroponics into the mix there's no real reason we can't be self-sustainable for the basics on the moon. $\endgroup$
    – Pelinore
    Commented Apr 6, 2018 at 10:47

This could easily be done. The proof is in the ISS. There has never once been an incident that required immediate evacuation of the ISS, nor an immediate re-supply. The main difference between the two is the distance, and therefore the cost. However, there are a few advantages to being on the moon in terms of cost/distance, namely that there are resources available on the ground. In particular, Oxygen would be fairly easily available.

Bottom line, if someone fronted the cost, I think we could have a colony on the Moon (Or Mars) within a decade. The cost would probably be in the $30-40 billion for either project, with a fairly high ongoing cost as well. Of course, don't quote me on the cost figures, but I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be less than that figure.

  • $\begingroup$ Well, constant supply is necessary, which means that NASA (if they do it) should launch space shuttle frequently, kinda often. I don't really know, how much a space shuttle launch costs, but doing it e.g. once per month would be incredibly expensive, isn't it? I mean, as far as I know, NASA space shuttle launches are way less frequent. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 7, 2013 at 20:56
  • $\begingroup$ The space shuttle doesn't launch right now, but supply runs are made about once every 2 months or so to the ISS, maybe a bit more frequently. $\endgroup$
    – PearsonArtPhoto
    Commented Nov 7, 2013 at 21:05
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    $\begingroup$ The supplies are pretty much the same, the distance is what makes a difference. I suppose a lunar colony would involve some EVAs and such that would require more suits and whatnot, but yet, it should be possible. $\endgroup$
    – PearsonArtPhoto
    Commented Nov 7, 2013 at 21:10
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    $\begingroup$ This is a usage of the word "easily" with which I am not familiar. $\endgroup$
    – Mark Adler
    Commented Nov 11, 2013 at 14:33
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    $\begingroup$ This argument ignores that the radiation environment is rather different on the ISS (inside Earth's Van Allen belts) than on the Moon or Mars (no magnetic field, so no radiation deflection). $\endgroup$
    – Hobbes
    Commented Nov 12, 2013 at 20:28

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