“Life Beyond Earth” Shows How A Colony On The Moon Could Work

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An excerpt from the new short film “Life Beyond Earth”.
GIF: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

Called Life beyond Earth, the four-minute short film presents a realistic vision of a future moon base and sustainable habitats that could transform this objective in reality.

The concept shown in the film was developed by the architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, and it is part of an installation currently on display at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale, Italy. The theme for this year is, “How are we going to live together. Experts from the European Space Agency and retired NASA astronaut Jeffrey Hoffman, currently a professor in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT, provided technical support for the project.

The installation includes a pair of full-scale physical models, in addition to the film. Daniel Inocente, senior designer at the architectural firm, said the project “could pave the way for further multidisciplinary exercises here in Europe, when reflecting on future concepts of sustainable human habitat,” as he explained in an ESA Press release. The concept is meant to move us forward as we work to create a sustainable and long-term environment. lunar base, made possible through contributions from the private and public sectors, as well as space and non-space partners.

The centerpiece of the design is an imagined habitat that could launch a first colony on the Moon. Its semi-inflatable design ensures a high volume-to-mass ratio, in which the habitat would expand to almost double its packing volume when inflated. Rising nearly four floors, the structure would include reconfigurable elements, high ceilings, stairs, workspaces and even grab bars to help the crew take full advantage of the low gravity conditions on the Moon. .

Structures can be inflated either on site by astronauts or remotely using robotic devices controlled by operators on Gateway, a space station planned in lunar orbit. Current design could support a crew of four for 300 days and in relatively comfortable conditions.

In the video, an imaginary colony can be seen along the edge of Shackleton Crater, which is located near the lunar South Pole. This location is a smart choice, as it would provide near-continuous sunlight for solar power, a persistent view of Mother Earth, and access to water deposits hidden in permanently shaded areas inside the crater. .

We have all seen futuristic lunar base visions before, but they are often overlooked, mainly because they are never realized. The first lunar colony might not look exactly like the one depicted in the new movie, but this particular vision seems … right. The timing also seems opportune, as our civilization finally seems ready to embark on meaningful missions to the Moon. The time is fast approaching, it seems, for us to finally create permanent settlements on our natural satellite.

After: Meet VIPER, NASA’s new lunar rover for water hunting and crater crushing.



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