Credit: SOM


As part of the European Space Agency’s Moon Village initiative, a lunar community study has been carried out by architecture, interior design, engineering and urban planning firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM).

The detailed village design was done in collaboration with ESA and the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Their proposal has undergone rigorous examination by ESA experts at the Agency’s mission-evaluating Concurrent Design Facility (CDF).

Multiple habitats making up Moon Village.
Credit: SOM

No show-stoppers

This review process flagged various issues but found no show-stoppers – perhaps an important step for establishing such domiciles on the Moon in years to come.

“This study is clearly looking into the future, beyond the horizon of currently planned lunar exploration activities,” explains Advenit Makaya, study leader at ESA. “But it has been a very interesting exercise for the various ESA experts, to collaborate with architecture experts, to identify and address the drivers and ways in which this innovative design could be deployed on the Moon.”

Architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill has designed a semi-inflatable four-level Moon Village habitat. The four-person crew quarters would be on the ground floor to maximize radiation protection.
Credit: SOM



As a starting point, SOM took the Bigelow Aerospace inflatable BEAM module currently attached to the International Space Station. SOM designed a semi-inflatable shell structure to offer the highest possible volume to mass ratio. Once the semi-inflatable structure inflated on the lunar surface, it would reach approximately double its original internal volume.

Ground floor crew quarters.
Credit: SOM

Shackleton crater site

The chosen site: the rim of Shackleton crater at the lunar South Pole. Avoiding the crippling temperature extremes of the Moon’s two-week days and nights, this location offers near-continuous sunlight for solar power, an ongoing view of Earth and access to potential lunar water ice deposits in adjacent permanently-shadowed craters.

Shackleton Crater, the floor of which is permanently shadowed from the Sun, appears to be home to deposits of water ice. A new study sheds light on how old these and other deposits on the Moon’s south pole might be.
Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University




Once the first habitat is in place, the SOM team envisages additional modules joining it in turn, customized for specific functions such as research, manufacturing, food culture and tourism – allowing the base to expand into a village, then eventually a city.




Take a look at the full Concurrent Design Facility (CDF) study here at:

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