The house is hit by bullet-fast micrometeorites and pushed by earthquakes that last for hours. Temperatures can exceed 250 degrees during the day and drop below -200 degrees at night. Looking out the window risks exposure to radiation. A plumbing leak could spell doom.
But if the Resilient Extra-Terrestrial Habitats Institute achieves its goals, the inhabitants will remain safe in hostile conditions. Funded with a $ 15 million grant from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the five-year research project combines advanced computer simulations and physical tests to gather information on how to create a lunar habitat that will keep astronauts alive. The work will help explain how humans build a lasting presence on the moon.
This is no longer an academic question. NASA, with the help of international and commercial partners, plans to bring people back to the moon in 2024. Over the next decade, the agency wants to establish “a lasting long-term presence on the lunar surface” and build infrastructure such as communications, generation of energy and waste disposal. Eventually, the so-called Artemis Base Camp could house a crew of four astronauts with the aim of spending a month or two at a time on the surface.
It’s much closer than many people believe, says Ariel Ekblaw, founder and director of the Space Exploration Initiative at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A structure is expected to be built on the moon at the end of this decade or the beginning of the 1930s.
China plans to initiate the creation of an inhabited lunar station this decade. Jan Woerner, Director General of the European Space Agency, in 2016 launched Moon Village, an international collaborative initiative for the exploration of the moon. About a dozen private lunar transport companies are preparing robotic missions to the surface, according to Jessy Kate Schingler, co-founder and director of policy and governance at the Open Lunar Foundation, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that advocates peaceful approaches and cooperatives to the lunar settlement. There could be up to 1 billion tons of water in the form of ice on the moon, which could support hundreds of thousands of people working there, he says.