Using technology being designed today, it's possible to build a space train that never stops its continuous journey between the Earth and the moon, allowing the realistic establishment of lunar colonies within a few short years.
Using the inflatable habitat technology currently being tested by Bigelow Aerospace and the SpaceX Dragon capsule ship design, it's possible to build a space train that would continually cycle between the Earth and the moon.
Add robotic arm technology like the Canadarm2 in use aboard the International Space Station, space truck technology from the United Launch Alliance and landing systems designed by Masten Space Systems and the space train becomes a cargo vessel to the moon.
This theoretical space train could be used to fly tourists around the moon, drop off lunar colonists, and shuttle supplies boosted up from Earth.
The cycler space train is a theoretical design concept from the thinkers over at ImaginActive and is based on a concept first dreamed up by Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin more than 30 years ago.
"Once its reliability and safety are proven, it would be used on missions to asteroids, Phobos, and Mars."A similar idea, the Solar Express, made headlines last year when the idea of a high-speed space train that never stops traveling between Earth and Mars captured the public's imagination.
The idea is the brainchild of Buzz Aldrin, one of the first two humans to walk on the moon, and was first dreamed up in the 1980s. The idea was to use the gravitational forces of the Earth and the moon to continuously cycle a spacecraft between the two celestial bodies using very little fuel.
Aldrin's first space train idea was too slow to be useful, but he later adapted the idea as a concept vehicle to colonize Mars and the rest of the solar system, according to BuzzAldrin.com.
"The Cycler system alters the philosophy behind a Mars program. It makes possible the dream of regular flights to the Red Planet and a permanent human presence there. That's the only way we'll ever succeed in taking mankind's next giant leap: a subway-in-the-sky between our planet and our future second home."
The lunar cycler dreamed up by ImagineActive pictures using Bigelow inflatable habitats as living compartments for astronaut crew and paying space tourists; one module each for sleeping, dining, and crew quarters.
SpaceX Dragon capsules attached to the sides would serve as command centers, emergency radiation shelters, and in the event of a catastrophic accident, escape pods.
Water-based propellant mined from passing asteroids could fuel a master rocket and smaller maneuvering thrusters making the space train capable of matching velocity with cargo ships launched from Earth.
With cargo boosted into orbit with reusable Vulcan rockets from the United Launch Alliance, or space trucks, the cycler train becomes a cargo ship capable of shuttling colonists and supplies to the moon.
The cargo trucks, launched from Earth, would match speeds with the space train for transfer of human passengers and supplies intended for moon bases. Landers designed by Masten Space Systems would then launch from the space train to land on the lunar surface.
Add lunar habitats designed and built by Bigelow and humanity could have a pop-up base orbiting the moon by 2020, as commercial space operator Robert Bigelow told FloridaPolitics.
"We do have a business case for the moon. And that's why the moon absolutely makes the best sense. And we can do the lunar activities far sooner than we can with Mars."What do you think about colonizing the moon with the lunar cycling space train?
[Featured Image by 3DSculptor/iStock]