I would command an expedition to the South Pole of the Moon in the role of Pilot and conduct mapping and navigating of the unknown landscape. My team would consist of three other astronauts: Mission Specialist, Engineer, and Doctor. One of the primary mission goals is to find water, therefore the Mission Specialist would be a hydrogeologist. It is essential to have expertise on where to look for water and a scientific understanding of geological processes. An Engineer would have a strong understanding of the spacecraft, the technology we are leaving on the Moon, and be able to fix any dangerous malfunctions. A Doctor specializing in human physiology would also be critical to the mission, optimizing astronaut performance and health. Certain mission-specific skills can be trained, but ultimately, character, trustworthiness, and cooperation are just as important. Team members would have to remain calm under pressure, be mentally stable, and be able to follow orders. Good problem solvers, with patience, intelligence and a pleasant attitude would be the kind of people who I would want to be stuck in a capsule with for extended periods of time.
My team would leave behind the Horta, a machine with drilling capabilities and a sensor to detect water. Inspired by the rock-tunneling creature of the same name in the original Star Trek series, it will collect samples and data on the Moon’s mysterious lava tubes. Naming it after the fictional silicon-based life-form also alludes to the abundance of silica on the Moon. The Horta would search for water and potential sites for future base camps. If the lava tunnels were further explored, and deemed habitable, future costs for materials to build shelters would be significantly reduced. Additionally, the thick rock layer could minimize the threat of unpredictable solar storms and protect astronauts from dangerous radiation.