Design Criteria for an Underground Lunar Mine

by John A. Siekmeier, Twin Cities Research Cent, Minneapolis, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Engineering, Construction, and Operations in Space III


Underground excavation and construction techniques have been well developed terrestrially and provide an attractive option for lunar mining and habitat construction. The lunar mine, processing facilities and habitats could be located beneath the lunar surface in basaltic rock that would protect the crew and equipment from the hazardous surface environment. A terrestrial-like atmosphere would be created within the underground structures allowing more conventional technologies to be utilized. In addition, the basalt would likely contain higher quality mineral deposits than the regolith (lunar soil) since the minerals in the regolith have been degraded by meteorite bombardment. The conditions that would affect the design of an underground lunar mine are described and a lunar rock mass rated to assess its quality using terrestrial rock mass classification systems. Design criteria are established and a construction scenario proposed. Parameters having the greatest effect on stability are identified based on distinct element computer modeling and terrestrial experience.

Subject Headings: Moon | Mines and mining | Minerals | Lunar materials | Computer models | Rock masses | Underground structures | Excavation

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