Format: Research
Genre: Architecture
Country: n/a
Year: 2022-2023

First permanent, habitable, and self-deployable inflatable vessel, in a series of efforts to establish self-sustainable human settlement on the lunar surface.

The exterior structure is designed to maintain a stable internal temperature and atmosphere, which is necessary for the well-being and survival of the crew. Its architecture is used to create a pressurized environment around inhabitable volume, protecting astronauts from the extreme temperatures and harsh conditions of the lunar surface.

According to research, our Moon has no atmosphere to protect from solar wind, micrometeoroids and radiation. It is vulnerable to the constant flow of high-energy particles, X-rays, and ultraviolet light that cause high stress on equipment and materials. Its surface is extremely dry and dusty, with temperatures changing dramatically between day and night. Reaching up to 127*C (261*F) during the day and dropping to -173*C (-279*F) at night. Simultaneously, temperatures in direct sunlight vs shadow can vary up to 200*C (400*F) degrees, therefore, materials need to be chosen carefully and temperatures managed. As an example, one material may have dramatically different thermal expansion characteristics while interfacing with another material, which would result in a fatality of a structure. Such habitat may rip itself apart as materials expand and contract differently. Lunar conditions make it very difficult to maintain equipment and active habitable structures on the lunar surface and make it unlikely that any future long-term missions will not include additional layers of durable insulation.
proposes an inflatable structure around the inhabitable volume, constructing a pressurized environment, and equalizing temperature and pressure between the inside and the outside, providing a safe environment for the long-term mission. It is designed to successfully shelter systems and its inhabitants. The structure allows for gradual scalability of its systems, in a hexagonal pattern, responding to the growing needs of space research and space exploration as a whole. 

Made out of silica aerogel, - a highly insulated material that shields the crew from the harsh conditions and vacuum of the lunar surface. Simultaneously, a durable material highly resistant to heat and radiation, and damage from micrometeoroids. Additionally insulated with nitrogen - a gas with high insulation properties, and low thermal conductivity. It is maintained at a lower pressure, easing the overall structure’s servicing.
The overall durability of the inflatable structure will be affected by its maintenance, it would require a system to maintain the pressure inside the structure, as well as a system to detect and repair punctures or leaks. A large robotic arm, similar to the one on the International Space Station (ISS) could be used to help with repairs. The robotic arm could be used to perform inspections, to patch up punctures, and to make repairs to the structure as needed. It is important to note that the inflatable structure will be additionally subject to pressure changes, which may cause stress on the material. Concluding regular inspections and repairs using a robotic arm will help to extend the life of the structure and ensure that it remains operational for as long as possible.

Alternative Methods
An alternative to inflatable structures, traditional structures built of regolith were also discussed, highlighting their potential durability and resistance to the harsh conditions on the lunar surface. In terms of complication and cost-effectiveness, building a traditional structure made of regolith may be more expensive due to the complexity of the process, the need for specialized equipment, and additional preparation of site and regolith prior to construction.
During the Apollo mission, NASA used the Apollo Lunar Module, to land astronauts on the Moon. Once landed on the lunar surface, the Lunar Module was used as a base of operations for scientific experiments and sample collection. Its descent stage remains on the Moon, with a number of other artifacts, including the Lunar Roving Vehicles, and various scientific instruments and equipment. It is important to note that The Apollo program was the only manned lunar landing program by NASA, and it ended in 1972, since then no human has been on the lunar surface.

Hestia is a structure, designed solely as a habitable unit for long-duration missions, and does not include descend and ascend stages, unlike the Lunar Module. Hestia’s interior additionally includes guidance, navigation, equipment necessary to perform experiments and collecting samples, and control systems to ensure safe and precise connection with Earth; that are located on a self-adjustable raised platform.

NASA inflatable structures
Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) is a predecessor of Hestia, and has been used to demonstrate the capabilities of inflatable structures in space since 2016. Inflatable technology of an experimental, expandable module BEAM allows for a more compact and lightweight design, making it more cost-effective and efficient to transport and deploy in low-orbit. TransHab, is another inflatable module technology developed by NASA Johnson Space Center, intended to be used as a habitat for long-duration space missions. Developed as part of the program Mars Direct, it aimed to send humans to Mars. The performance of inflatable structures has been evaluated by NASA for future use in deep space missions, while the capability of the inflatable technology to provide human-rated habitats, logistics, and other aerospace structures is overall considered  game-changing.


Phase A of Hestia is a mobile test facility, to be located 400 meters south of the German Neumayer Station III, in Antarctica. This allows testing the resistance and durability of the new mission equipment to harsh environmental conditions, as well as acquaint the crew with architecture and its use.
Physically, any structural form, once filled with pressurized air organically tends to become a softer shape, much closer in its geometrical properties to a sphere, a torus, or a cylinder with domed ends. The future of space architecture would expect the need for pressurization, pushing the aesthetic towards circular and spherical designs.
Space architecture is designed as pressure vessels, with geometrical forms where surface tension caused by high pressure can be managed, space architecture becomes physically constrained by soft geometrical boundaries. Any internal organization is forced to be maintained within soft formal systems, much resistant to the western perception of the perfect rectangular arrangement.


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