Studio Samira Boon has created woven self supported origami structures from a single sheet of fabric and woven self supportive arc.
Credit: Studio Samira Boon

High-performance textiles and the flexible nature of origami are transforming architecture plans for smart human habitats and research stations on the Moon and Mars.

MoonMars is a collaboration between the International Lunar Exploration Working Group (ILEWG), ESA-ESTEC, research institutions and textile architect studio Samira Boon.

Digital weaving

The MoonMars team has incorporated origami structure into digital weaving processes to sculpt complex forms that are compact to transport and easy to deploy through inflatable, pop-up or robotic mechanisms in extraterrestrial environments.

The angled facets of origami structures mean that incoming micrometeorites are less likely hit surfaces at 90 degrees, dissipating the energy of potential impacts and the risks of penetration, thus protecting astronauts inside habitats.

A woven self supported origami dome from a single sheet of fabric and woven self supportive arc.
Credit: Studio Samira Boon

Solar panels embedded in shape-shifting textiles can follow the Sun to gather more energy through the day. Transparent and opaque facets can change direction to alter internal lighting and climate conditions.

Field testing

The results from initial field tests of the MoonMars project’s origami prototype have been presented at the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC) 2018, held this week in Berlin.

“Origami structures made of textiles can be unfolded into a myriad of different shapes. They are lightweight. They can be easily deployed and re-used in different configurations and sizes for flexible spatial usage. Structures remain functional in changing circumstances, thereby extending their useable life-span,” explains Anna Sitnikova, leader of the MoonMars project on behalf of the ILEWG.

The prototype was deployed and tested to extreme conditions on the April 20 during the EuroMoonMars2018 simulation at ESA – ESTEC. The origami structure was designed as a gateway and sub-system between the exo-habitat, airlock system and exo-laboratory.
Credit: Anna Sitnikova


The MoonMars team is now planning an ambitious series of trials for 2019. In June, the IGLUNA project, led by the Swiss Space Center, will include tests of an origami habitat in the glacier above Zermatt in Switzerland. In September 2019 the team will travel to Iceland to participate in a campaign inside a lava-tube cave system.

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