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"The point sticks in your head: physics rules. Virtue does not triumph unless the physics allows it."
- Larry Niven

Moonbase (or Moon Base)  
  A base of operations on Earth's moon.  

This is a very early reference - perhaps the first use - of the phrase "moonbase."

Typical corporal-made-good, Slavinsky had been Moscow's favorite peasant. About as cultured as a bull, he was quite proud of his refinement. And he had been sent with troops, supplies and bombs to command Russia's most trusted post, the Moonbase.
From 240,000 Miles Straight Up, by L. Ron Hubbard.
Published by Thrilling Wonder Stories in 1948
Additional resources -

Robert Heinlein ties with Hubbard on this one; RAH uses this phrase in Space Cadet, published that same year:

A cabal of high-ranking officers, acting from Moon Base, tried to seize power over the entire world. The plot would have been successful had not Lieutenant Dahlquist disabled every atom-bomb rocket at Moon Base by removing the fissionable material from each and wrecking the triggering mechanisms.
Hubbard does not get pride of place for earliest description of a lunar habitation. As far as I know, the moon dome from Ray Cummings 1931 novel Brigands of the Moon was the first scientifically accurate description in science fiction.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from 240,000 Miles Straight Up
  More Ideas and Technology by L. Ron Hubbard
  Tech news articles related to 240,000 Miles Straight Up
  Tech news articles related to works by L. Ron Hubbard

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