The intent of this proposal is to offer a cohesive and feasible vision for the long-term habitation of the moon.
Beyond the technical and engineering challenges that must be addressed to make a lunar settlement possible, we are interested in the human factors that go into living in space, particularly as the population grows and duration of stay lengthens.
The long-term goal is to support a permanent, self-sustaining settlement whose residents do not need to return to Earth. Our proposed framework is not so much a blueprint for a settlement, but an infrastructural language allowing for a variety of applications enabling inhabitants to develop and grow their living and working spaces as needed.
Our proposal is sited near Shackleton Crater in the Moon’s south polar region. This is an area bathed in nearly perpetual sunlight, but also is home to deep craters that have been in shadow for millennia. This offers exposure to two key resources: sunlight for energy and food production, and water ice, very likely located just under the surface in shaded regions.
The structural design of MoonHouse aims to take advantage of existing and intuitive construction methods, which have significant efficiency gains in one-sixth gravity. The system combines the truss language of present-day launch platforms and construction sites with in-situ utilization of regolith to build up sufficient shielding against solar and cosmic radiation.
Establishing a predominantly self-sustaining settlement is key to future space settlements, and the programming of MoonHouse is accordingly organized around production: food in greenhouses, water harvesting from shaded craters and sub-surface regolith, solar farms exposed to sunlight for most of the year, and extraction of rare-Earth metals.
Research will be an inescapable part of any space settlement. In-situ construction, additive manufacturing methods, and low-gravity biological research are just the beginning of what will be explored.
Critical to the sustainability of any long-term settlement is resident quality of life. Our proposal makes room for restaurants, sports facilities, orchestras, and movie theaters. This goes beyond a research base staffed by a handful of scientists and suggests the development of a unique but familiar way of life for lunar residents.
MoonHouse centers on ideas of customization, incremental growth, and use flexibility. We are similarly not proposing building a city in one step, but instead establishing the infrastructural tools that enable a city to grow organically over time. As the modular system develops in size and complexity, residents will be able to provide space for restaurants, sports facilities, concert halls, and hotels.
The Modular MoonHouse is meant to be a step toward long-term human settlement of space. Lessons learned by lunar pioneers can inform future space architecture and living in space, particularly as we collectively work to establish a human presence on Mars. Our design approach of a modular, flexible, scalable architectural infrastructure is not about solving all current and future challenges, instead enabling settlers to confront those challenges with the tools and quality of life they will need.