The European Space Agency (ESA) presented its conceptual plan for a large-scale lunar base, developed within the framework of the Discovery program and jointly with the architectural firm Hassell. This project aims to develop technological infrastructure needed to solve various problems that future lunar inhabitants may face, including research, tourism and mining, which may form part of the lunar economy.
The main objective of the project is to solve possible problems related to the stay of people on the surface of the Moon for a long time. This includes developing measures to protect astronauts from harsh environments, including radiation, dust and extreme temperatures, as well as providing essential resources, such as water, oxygen and energy.
Based on the presented design base, occupants are proposed to be placed in inflatable modules with minimal contact with the surface, to reduce contact with abrasive dust. Protection from radiation will be provided by the shell, made of blocks, made using three-dimensional printing from lunar regolith, which can be connected to each other over the modules. Additionally, astronauts will be able to harvest water and oxygen from lunar regolith. To smooth out temperature fluctuations and maximize the use of solar energy, the base will be located on the edge of Shackleton crater, located at the Moon’s south pole, which will allow it to remain under direct sunlight for longer periods of time.
At the same time, both EKA and Hassell admit that their design is far from reality, but flexibility is its main principle. «This is not the case when we try to run ahead, but we are not able to walk yet. Such projects require a lot of time at the planning stage. We will continue to explore the scientific aspects», — emphasizes Ksavvie De Kestel, chief designer of Hassell and chief architect of the project.