Architectural firm Hasell has launched a revolutionary new concept, designed in close collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA) and Cranfield University in Bedfordshire, to support the development of the world’s first lunar habitat, which it says is the next step in the creation of the first permanent human settlement on the moon.
Working with anthropologists, psychologists, roboticists and astronauts, Hassell developed the concept for the Lunar Habitat Master Plan by considering not just the essential elements that make a habitat liveable, but also how to create a prosperous permanent community for almost 150 people in reduced gravity.
‘Hassell has come up with a very interesting design that combines a good understanding of the lunar environment constraints and a vision for the future of human exploration of the lunar surface,’ said Advenit Makaya, advanced manufacturing engineer at the ESA.
The human-centric master plan focuses on what a settlement would need to survive and thrive on the moon – from recreational, social and active spaces, including restaurants and sports arenas, to enriching earth-based environments, such as huge greenhouses.
Developed for the ESA’s Discovery programme, the habitat system aims to support the critical work of national agencies – including NASA, ESA and Jaxa – but would also cater for commercial space agencies, companies and tourists. It has been designed to be located near the Shackleton Crater at the South Lunar Pole, where it’s believed that frozen water may exist.
The design uses 3D-printed modular components that act as a protective outer layer. The hexapod-shaped components are assembled like building blocks, interlocking to shield the habitat from the lethal levels of radiation on the moon. The pods themselves are inflatable, keeping them light and compact, which are essential factors given the cost and difficulty of shipping materials to the moon.
According to Hassell, the components can be regenerated using materials sourced directly from the moon – such as lunar soil or regolith – and then 3D-printed on site at the habitat, providing the means for sustainable construction growth.
‘Access to space is getting cheaper every year, so over the next two decades, space travel will evolve hugely,’ said Xavier De Kestelier, head of innovation at Hassell. ‘We cannot possibly predict now how a lunar community will evolve. We therefore designed a masterplan that is adaptable to change and can accommodate various types of lunar settlements in the future.’