New Space and Tech

An ESA Inflatable Moon Base Concept

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
September 4, 2022
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An ESA Inflatable Moon Base Concept
ESA Moon Base Concept

A vision of a future Moon settlement assembled from semi-buried inflatable habitats. Sited beside the lunar poles in regions of near-perpetual solar illumination, mirrors positioned above each habitat would reflect sunlight into greenhouses within the doughnut-shaped habitats.

Inflatable structures specialist Pneumocell in Austria performed a system study of an inflatable lunar habitat, based on prefabricated ultralight structures.

Once inflated, these habitats would be buried under 4-5 m of lunar regolith for radiation and micrometeorite protection. Above each habitat a truss holding a mirror membrane would be erected, designed to rotate to follow the Sun through the sky. Sunlight from the mirror would be directed down through an artificial crater, from which another cone-shaped mirror reflects it into the surrounding greenhouse.

The study was supported through the Discovery element of ESA’s Basic Activities. It came about after Pneumocell submited their idea to the Agency’s Open Space Innovation Platform, OSIP, seeking out promising ideas for space research from all possible sources.

Read the summary of the project in ESA’s Nebula Library of studies.

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.