Space Station vs. Moon Base

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Difference between Space Station and Moon Base

Man’s explorations into space has always been the stuff of legend, and space stations and moon bases have played a significant role in various cinematic and literary depictions of space occupation in modern history. While seemingly similar in purpose and function, each is actually quite different from the other, as you will see in this comparison article. 

Space Station
Moon Base

Definition

A space station is a manned satellite that is intended to orbit the Earth at a relatively low altitude over long periods. Also known as orbital stations, space stations allow the docking of other spacecraft. What makes space stations different from other manned spacecraft is the absence of major propulsion or landing capabilities. These structures therefore rely on other vehicles that are used to transport personnel and supplies.

Moon bases are the products of long proposed plans to establish permanent human settlements on the Moon. These structures don’t actually exist currently, although the most ardent supporters of space exploration view the settlement of the Moon as the next logical step in the eventual expansion of the human race outside the Earth.

Purpose

One of the main purposes of space stations is to study how humans react to long-term space flights. In addition, space stations also provide much more opportunities for scientific studies than any other space vehicle, and for longer periods at that. All space stations are designed for multiple crews, with each member remaining on-board for several weeks or months at a time, although few stay on-board for more than a year.

Moon bases have been proposed as human settlements in anticipation of the need to expand habituations outside the Earth. There have been signs that water might be present in sufficient quantities at the poles of the moon, and this has resulted in increased interest in lunar migration and moon bases.

Issues

There are a number of issues that may limit the long-term habitability of space stations, among them the difficulty of recycling, high radiation levels and the almost total absence of gravity. These factors and many others have been shown to cause discomfort, and may even have long-term detrimental effects on human health.

A number of solution shave been proposed to address such issues, and to make long-term occupation of space stations more feasible. Some proposed space station designs are intended to accommodate large numbers of people, and they basically serve as space cities, wherein people may set up homes. At present however, no such designs have pushed through, because of financial and political concerns.

As for moon bases, the most significant issues have to do with the difficulty in setting up solar power plants, as well as the extreme temperature ranges, Among some of the proposals include setting up colonies in the lunar poles, although the scarcity of carbon, nitrogen and hydrogen remain significant hurdles.

Similarities and Differences

Space station

  • A manned satellite intended to orbit the Earth at a relatively low altitude over long periods
  • Lacks major propulsion or landing capabilities

Moon base

  • Products of long proposed plans to establish permanent human settlements on the Moon
  • The most significant issues include the difficulty in setting up solar power plants, as well as the extreme temperature ranges

 
 

Discuss It: comments 2

  • Guest
  • C Daniels wrote on April 2015

This article touches on a fundamental difference without actually naming it- day/night cycle- therefore the temperature extremes, and accommodations for solar power plants, which are mentioned. A space station can be in either a geostationary or geosynchronous orbit, whereas the moon base depends upon the moon's rotation, which is the reason for proposals positioning moon bases at the lunar poles.

  • Guest
  • C Daniels wrote on April 2015

Sorry for mentioning the moons rotation mistakenly. The moon's rotation is synchronous with its orbit. The rotation and orbit takes exactly the same time. Therefore the moon has a dark side and a light side permanently facing the Earth. Anyways, this fact makes for some important differences between a moon base vs an orbiting satellite.

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