Credit: SAGA Space Architects

Danish space architects are building and plan to test this year a Moon home for everyone.

Two members of the design team will live for three months (91 days) in a Moon analogue habitat to be positioned in the Arctic, Greenland.

The project is dubbed LUNARK, developed by SAGA Space Architects in Copenhagen, Denmark. Their design for a lunar dwelling combines the ancient Japanese art of paper folding with the method of biomimicry. The result is a lightweight and strong foldable structure.

The challenge the architects took on is translating origami into thicker panels that can still fold. The final hinge design is a compliant mechanism is lightweight, strong, airtight, and simple to manufacture and to maintain.

Credit: SAGA Space Architects

“We want to understand with our own bodies, what is truly important when living in isolation under these extreme conditions,” explains Karl-Johan Sørensen. His expedition team member, Sebastian Aristotelis adds: “50 years ago we survived on the Moon, this time we want to live on the Moon. We use the arctic as the most realistic test site for the future Moon house.”

Moon-bound on Earth: Sebastian Aristotelis & Karl-Johan Sørensen.
Credit: SAGA Space Architects

Monotony, claustrophobia and psychological stress

Previous research shows that lack of stimuli, isolation, and confinement will become major challenges for the long-term voyages of the future.

This experiment, the architects contend, will develop and test a radically different Moon habitat where architecture helps to counteract monotony, claustrophobia and psychological stress.

The group is developing a complete digital model which connects all the habitat’s systems (eg. life support, heat, water, electricity), along with embedded sensors. The goal is to be able to predict maintenance or risks through simple artificial intelligence so 3D print replacement parts can be produced before they break.

Credit: SAGA Space Architects

Circadian rhythms

A circadian simulator is on the agenda to develop and test. This system would counter sleep disruptions and out-of-sync circadian rhythms that make astronauts lethargic and unproductive. This simulator would bathe the habitat’s inside in slowly changing hues and luminosities over the day; bright in the morning to wake an individual up, and glowing in nuances of pink and orange as the person goes to sleep.

Also under development is a weather simulator. The habitat designers consider the lack of novelty as another key challenge for long term space habitation. So instead of living in a pod where every day is the same, you might one day wake up to a stormy day, or a rainbow of color. The architects believe this might be a key to breaking the monotony of space.

Within the core of the habitat, an algae reactor is to be placed, a unit that is resilient, highly photosynthetic, provides nutritious rations, and can absorb cosmic radiation.

Habitat structure

To energize the habitat’s functions, monocrystalline solar cell-laden panels are integrated within the skin of the structure yielding 2.5 kilowatts of power.

Top down look. Credit: SAGA Space Architects

The habitat is equipped with two individual sound insulated crew cabins, to strengthen the sense of privacy in the small habitat.

The habitat structure has two main segments – the steel frame and the composite Origami vessel. These two segments are attached to each other and allow the Habitat to be both flexible when deploying and rigid and stable throughout the mission.

The steel structure carries the entire habitat on three angled legs. Height-adjustable feet at the three support points ensure that the habitat is stable regardless of the site topography, and wind conditions. The legs attach to two inlaid structural rings that stiffen the origami and carry all the loads from the habitat’s interior. This means that the floor, sleeping cabins, etc. aren’t carried by the origami, but attach directly to the structural rings.

 Greenland gotchas

Isolated and confined in one of the harshest climates on Earth, the habitat’s occupants will endure -30°C as well as hurricane winds.

Creature comforts. Courtesy photo/Danish Chief Petty Officer Lars Iversen

Team members make note that on the Moon, there is a risk of being hit by a meteor. In Greenland, you might get hit by a polar bear. The habitat must withstand a curious and weighty polar bear. Furthermore, the habitat must leave no trace and recycle as much waste as possible.

The habitat is to be situated around Dundas, 62 miles (100 kilometers) south of Thule in northern Greenland.

The LUNARK project has already received corporate support, but are on the lookout for more sponsors. To boost their efforts, a Kickstarter campaign is to be unveiled on May 5th at:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/sagaspacearchitects/lunark-building-and-testing-a-moon-home-for-everyone

For more details on SAGA Space Architects and its LUNARK initiative, go to:

https://lunark.space/

Also, go to this informative video at:

https://vimeo.com/353525132

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