Swahili for "he makes fly (into the skies)", Project Arusha is a technology project of the NSBE Space SIG that draws as its inspiration three aspects of the National Aeronautics and Space Act:

  • NASA must “contribute materially to the expansion of human knowledge of phenomena in space and the development and improvement of space vehicles”
  • NASA must “seek and encourage, to the maximum extent possible, the fullest commercial use of space”
  • The United States must preserve its role as a “leader in aeronautical and space science and technology and in the application thereof” and must preserve its “preeminent position in aeronautics and space”

The goal for Arusha is to help shape visions for human use of the Moon.  We believe that the Apollo program barely scratched the surface of human benefits from the Moon.  Apollo and later robotic probes have discovered significant natural resources on the Moon.  Scientists have yet to resolve many key questions surrounding the Moon.  After the Apollo program, many people envisioned an eventual human colonization of the Moon.  Of all moons and planets in space the Moon is unique in that it is the only natural body in the universe where it is possible to build colonies and have direct view between those colonies and Earth civilizations.  Such a scenario of two worlds in direct view of each other will profoundly impact human civilization.  However, the only true human experience on the Moon is the six Apollo landings and the Lunar Modules and Lunar Roving Vehicles the crews lived and worked in for the few days (less than three) they were on the surface at any given time.  How do we go from this experience to colonies?

Arusha seeks to examine the transitional steps between early exploration and human colonization.  A companion NSBE Space SIG project, Visions for Human Space Flight, proposes a level of lunar exploration that can follow the Apollo program similar to how the cancelled NASA Constellation program might have done and sets the stage for a program such as Arusha.  Arusha is based on a point of lunar development where there is a 48-person international, commercial presence on the Moon, with crew living on the Moon in staggered, two-year rotations.  Arusha also proposes a primary outpost at the lunar South Pole with assorted human-tended facilities scattered across the lunar surface.  These facilities include robotic facilities that require occasional servicing, human-tended science facilities, and historic sites of tourism interest such as Apollo landing sites.

The circumference of the Moon is 6,784 miles, resulting in a surface area of approximately 14,600,000 square miles.  This is roughly 4.68 times the size of the continental United States, 1.53 times the size of North America, and 1.25 the size of Africa.  Thus, these lunar facilities are scattered by vast, empty distances.  A transportation architecture is needed to enable crew to move between the South Pole outpost and any other lunar facility.

Project Arusha focuses on a long range rover capable of carrying a crew of six and circumnavigating the Moon within a 28-day period, allowing for 30-day missions to reach any facility on the lunar surface.  Project teams are organized around rover subsystems and crew workstations.