It looks like space is going to be the next billion-dollar venture. The Mars One mission to send humans to settle on the Red Planet has been met with both wonder and skepticism in recent years, but it looks like someone else is trying to make their mark on the cosmos first. Lunar 19, a new project from Solar Piflo, a financial conglomerate based in Europe, has just announced plans to build a city on the moon, a plan that they claim has been in the works since early 2006.
While the Mars One Mission has been pushed back from 2018 to 2020, with human crews not being deployed until 2026 due to a lack of funding, development on Lunar 19 is expected to begin in 2019, with a small team of engineers, scientists, architects and agriculturalists to begin the settlement and start the foundations of the new city. Solar Piflo confirms that the unnamed city will be structured within a dome environment to give the new colony “clouds, rain, blue skies and sunsets— an atmosphere similar to that of Earth.” Of course, such an ambitious project has its downfalls, the biggest of which is the estimated 2045 completion date.
The main reason the project has the potential to succeed (and in a timely manner), is their long term plan for sustainability. The Mars One Mission is famously known for being a one-way trip, a mentality that scientists believe could be the cause of its failure. "Right now it's unfeasible to do a one way mission to Mars, essentially because the costs grow unsustainably over time," Sydney Do, a PhD candidate in aeronautics and astronautics at MIT, explained to Public Radio International. Essentially the cost of maintaining and resupplying the settlement as it grows far outweighs that which Mars One is capable of handling and could lead to the demise of the entire mission. Lunar 19, however, has plans to consistently send up new astronauts, supplies and tools to repair and maintain equipment, a more feasible plan due to its proximity to the Earth and a better understanding of its environment, conditions and terrain.
As the colony grows over the years, Solar Piflo intends to build residences, shops, restaurants, public transportation, even hotels, as they are hoping tourism will be their largest financial asset. “It’s a difficult goal to be sure, but reaching out to grasp the future with our own hands is the only way the human race can move forward and find its place among the stars,” Renée Villeneuve, CEO of Solar Piflo, said in a statement. While early estimates suggest it may be another 10 years before they will being accepting applications for the general public to move to or even visit the lunar location, Solar Piflo believes this delay will only reinforce their commitment to safety and creating an established settlement. Personally we’re a little hesitant about living anywhere that doesn’t have its own atmosphere, but being an extraterrestrial expat is not for everyone. Residences in the unnamed city are estimated to start at $476 million.