Oregon L5 Society
Are you interested in visiting the Oregon Moonbase experimental site at Bend, Oregon? Here's our standard answer:
What Oregon Moonbase is -- and isn't:Whether there's anything to see at our experimental site depends on what you're looking for. There are no improvements at the site (other than fences), no facilities or experiments currently in place -- no restrooms, no water.
What we do have is a set of lava tube caves, basalt terrain, and sand mixed with volcanic dust, a useful analog to dusty lunar regolith. Our site can be made available for experimenters wishing to bring their own equipment into a primitive site and test it.
In the past we have brought in Young Astronauts and adults and equipment, built a small operational base, and conducted Moon Base exercises. After each trip we dismantled the equipment and returned it to its sponsoring institution, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI). A Rockwell engineer also tested a prototype "lunar cart" at the site, and we performed under NASA contract to characterize the site and plan a full-service experimental facility there.
We prefer some other season than midwinter to visit our site, because it is east of the Cascade mountains in Oregon's high desert (3700' elevation) country. Although the site is usually (not always) clear, the roads to the site from our homes in the Willamette Valley cross high mountain passes that are frequently and often unpredictably covered with snow and ice. Visits are more conveniently scheduled between mid-April to mid-October, although we will be happy to try anytime anyone is interested and available.
If you are interested in visiting lava tube caves:There are caves on public lands open year-round if you can get there. Ape Cave on the southern slopes of Mt. St. Helens is open even if its little visitor's office is closed, and other caves exist west of the town of Trout Lake in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in southern Washington. In Oregon, Lava River Cave is open right next to highway U.S. 97 south of Bend, for a small fee, and lanterns are available there for rent. This is a large cave easily accessible just a few hundred yards off a main thoroughfare.
Other large caves are scattered on the north and south slopes of Newberry Mountain south of Bend, marked on USGS and Forest Service maps (Deschutes National Forest; Newberry Volcanic Monument). Note that Newberry is a large shield volcano similar to those seen on Mars (but not as big). All of the Bend-area caves are in lavas associated with Newberry (the City of Bend is built on Newberry lavas).
Another shield volcano is Medicine Lake volcano east of Mt. Shasta in northern California. A world-class collection of dramatic lava tube caves exists on the far northern flank of Medicine Lake, set aside as Lava Beds National Monument. It is probably the best place to study lava tube caves in the continental U.S. The nearest significant town is Klamath Falls in southern Oregon. We highly recommend Lava Beds for lava tube studies. Winter is not the best time to visit this area.
There is also a volcanic field with some lava tubes in New Mexico's El Malpais/Bandera Volcano wilderness, west of Albuquerque. These are not quite as large as the northwest caves, and tend to be more eroded, rockfall choked, and possibly older.
We also recommend Hawaii for lava tube caves. They are still being made there today. Best place is the Big Island (Hawaii), but caves also exist on Oahu, Kauai, and probably the other islands as well. We've heard about large lava tube caves in Korea, Australia, Iceland, and the Canary Islands.
Getting in touch:If you're interested in meeting and talking to our Lunar Base Research Team, we have an office space available in Portland and are always glad to get together to talk about our research and other space issues. Since we have other, paying jobs, it would be easiest to meet on a weekend.
Let us know if you want to get together sometime.
Bryce Walden, ChairAdditional References in the Artemis Data Book: