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How to Build a Lunar Habitat

The Moon is a hostile environment — extreme temperatures, low gravity, and radiation await the next generation of astronauts. Scientists have patented a method for turning a plentiful lunar resource into building blocks for potential habitats.

The Regishell concept proposes inflatable human habitat structures that can be inflated on-site, then rigidized using abundant local regolith as a construction material.

Introducing Regishell

The Regishell Lunar Habitat concept, recently patented by Aerospace, uses lightweight, inflatable lunar human habitat structures known as airforms. Airforms could be transported in compact, deflated form to the Moon, then inflated on the lunar surface using any volatile gas generated on-site, such as oxygen. Once inflated, the Regishell is rigidized. An Earth or lunar-made alkali binder is mixed with local regolith, a soil covering comprised of dust and broken rocks that blankets solid rock surfaces, and the mixture is sprayed on or injected into the inflated structure. The Aerospace Physical Sciences Laboratories have conducted material experiments to find an appropriate binder where small concentrations could lead to hardening in vacuum and lunar daylight surface temperatures.

The Regishell method can be used to create multilayer structures that also serve as water reservoirs for human inhabitants, as well as magnetic tarmacs to keep hazardous, ionized moon dust away from human habitats.

Living Off the Land

For years, researchers have explored the idea of enlisting on-site resources for space habitats. The immense amount of energy required to leave Earth’s gravitational field places a premium on rocket payload systems, making the transportation of building materials to the Moon or Mars impractical. While the Moon and Mars contain a variety of volatiles and minerals of interest to science, the regolith itself is in abundance.

Shelter in Space

“We looked at what would happen in the event of a solar flare. These events produce huge amounts of radiation, which is very problematic for astronauts,” said Dr. Henry Helvajian, Senior Scientist at the Surface Science and Engineering Department. “We looked at what would happen during a 14-day stay on the Moon, using a standard 70 kg water-phantom as stand-in for an actual astronaut. We looked to see if a Regishell structure would protect an astronaut from radiation, and from our calculations it appears that it does.”

Cross-section of Regishell structure.



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