LDC 2023 Presentation Topic: Recent concepts for lunar habitats
This high-level presentation provides an overview of the engineering, medical and social issues that must be addressed prior to the settlement of people on the Moon, as well as while we are present on the Moon. A summary of the lunar environment is summarized as background to the issues that await resolution by structural engineers and others who will design habitats for long-term stays on the Moon, initially by pioneering astronauts, and eventually by people who will call the Moon their home. Key environmental concerns are the radiation and micrometeoroid environment, the hard vacuum, and the lack of atmosphere. The lunar dust poses a carcinogenic hazard, as well as an existential threat to engineered systems. Perhaps the most critical and least understood aspect of the impact of the lunar environment on humans is our body’s reaction to low gravity over long periods of time. What we do know highlights the criticality of those challenges.
Structures need to be designed to safeguard against the environment as well as with an eye to the psychological wellbeing of the inhabitants. A historical overview of lunar habitat concepts is presented, with ideas for the near future of habitat concepts included. These concepts include pre-built rigid cylinders, inflatable structures, hybrids, 3D printed structures, deployable structures, as well as concepts developed for placement in lava tubes.
While this overview provides a hopeful vision for the next hundred years, it will not gloss over the problems and issues that surround our return to the Moon and then, eventually, Mars.
Professor Haym Benaroya is a graduate of The Cooper Union in New York, and the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. He has eight years consulting engineering experience and over 30 years academic experience in teaching and the study of structural dynamics, probabilistic models, and the analysis of structures in extreme environments, including offshore drilling platforms, and habitats for the lunar surface. He has written numerous papers on these topics, as well as two engineering textbooks, one on Vibration and the other on Probabilistic Models. He has also written two books on space exploration and lunar habitats: Turning Dust to Gold (2010) and Building Habitats on the Moon (2018), both via Springer Nature Publishers.