NASA and SpaceX’s Artemis III mission will be the first to send humans to the lunar south pole.
In other words, NASA’s plan is to store ice in cryogenic pressure vessels and transport it in lunar rovers. They would likely have to transport the ice to a region nearer the moon’s equator, as lunar habitats will also require the extra sunlight that region would provide.
Curreri’s lunar pipeline concept, meanwhile, would provide constant access to oxygen for lunar settlers. It would also do this at the same time as drastically cutting costs that would otherwise be associated with transportation. Unlike pipelines on Earth, a leak on the moon wouldn’t pollute. Instead, oxygen would simply escape into space as the moon doesn’t have an atmosphere.
Building infrastructure on the moon
Lunar resources will test several different lunar pipeline prototypes, though it’s starting out with a roughly 3-mile (5-km) concept. In his statement, Curreri wrote that “our starting concept is for a 5 km pipeline to transport oxygen gas from an oxygen production source, for example, our molten regolith electrolysis (MRE) extraction site or any other source, to an oxygen storage/liquification plant near a lunar base.”
If NASA does eventually greenlight the LSPOP for its Artemis moon missions, it will be manufactured in segments on the moon before being fitted together into its full length. The pipeline will likely be manufactured out of aluminum, which is abundant in the lunar south pole.