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Launching rockets from the Moon is our ticket to a home on Mars

How our celestial neighbor can be an enabler of humanity’s future

The iconic Saturn V that took humans to the Moon. Source: Wikipedia

Humans as a multi-planetary species

The Moon has become a center of attraction once again with Russia, China, & Japan interested in having a moon base in the future. Trump’s announcement to send astronauts to the lunar surface rekindled America’s interest in the Moon. A multi-planetary species as imagined in The Expanse envisions permanent human outposts on a variety of solar system worlds like the Moon, Mars, Jupiter’s moon Ganymede and more.

A colonized Mars as envisioned in The Expanse. Source: Wikia

The core problem of rocket science

The more the payload a spacecraft has to carry, more the fuel required in the rocket to launch it. Since the inclusion of more fuel increases the weight of the rocket itself too, we need more fuel to carry that fuel. Rocket science.

Delta-v increases exponentially with added mass. Source: Wikipedia

The Moon as a rocket platform

The following chart shows the delta-v (and thus energy) required to reach various points from the Earth and the Moon.

Delta-v required to reach various points from the Earth and the Moon, calculated using vis-viva equation. Not to scale. Source: Me.
The gravity wells of the Earth and the Moon visualized. Source: xkcd

1. Accelerated growth

Lower delta-v means launching the same amount of payload from the Moon takes less fuel compared to Earth. Large rockets like Space X’s Falcon Heavy or the BFR can launch far more payload from the Moon than from Earth.

The BFR rocket as envisioned by SpaceX on a lunar base. Source: SpaceX

2. Cheaper launches

Less fuel requirements also mean that less complex (less costly) rockets can do the job of escaping Earth’s gravity well and go to destinations like Mars easily. The lower costs also allow cheaper one-time launches like space telescopes, deep space missions and satellites.

Sourcing materials from the Moon

If we use the Earth as a supply to launch rockets from the Moon, it doesn’t make any sense since the total delta-v would be similar. Once we have a lunar colony though, the resources of the Moon can be utilized. Being able to launch rockets assumes that we are producing rockets and fueling them on the Moon itself.

A concept asteroid mining mission to a Near-Earth Asteroid. Source: Wikipedia


The initial cost of a moon colony capable of building and launching their own rockets will definitely be high. But it is worth it in the long term. When you consider the hundreds of thousands of launches required to expand human presence in the solar system, the cost escalates quickly. The Moon as our rocket platform can drastically reduce the costs and allow for efficient development.

The Moon can be our long term rocket platform that puts us across the solar system.

Wanderers: A vision of humanity’s expansion into the Solar System. Source: Erik Wernquist

Imagine a farm on Mars, a colony on Ganymede, a flight on Saturn’s moon Titan. Imagine.



Privately funded mission to land on the Moon in 2020

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Jatan Mehta

Space and Moon exploration writer ~ Contributing Editor, The Planetary Society ~ Thinker | Website: