SCEINCE

The origami lunar habitat can expand up to 750 times its own size


Nearly five decades after humans last set foot on the moon, NASA is preparing to return. With the rise of commercial spaceflight, civilians would also like to travel to the moon. And the Danish architectural firm SAGA wants to offer habitats that will not only help people survive, but also thrive on the lunar surface.

In the past, we talked about how start-ups are used additive production for habitat creation which could sustain human life on other planets. It also makes sense to use source printed material from the surface of the planet so that you carry less when you go on a space mission. This all sounds great to torch astronauts who are on a mission and trained to handle heavy space travel. SAGA habitats are designed for people who want to travel to these distant places, but do not necessarily want to be trained for a survival mission. Their habitat, LUNARK, is home away from home.

LUNARK is durable from the outside and is built to protect its occupants from extreme weather conditions such as hurricane-like snowstorms and temperatures down to -22 degrees Fahrenheit (-30 degrees Celsius). But inside, it offers the comforts of home through work desks, a heater, workout equipment, sleeping pods and even light panels that can mimic daylight for you.

What makes this possible is the carbon fiber shell, which is not only lightweight but also arranged in an origami format that allows the shell to expand up to 750 times its size when packaged. The co-founders of the design studio, Sebastian Aristotle and Carl-Johan Sorensen were inspired by the budding leaf that unfolds to reveal its true size.

Along with carbon fiber, the team uses composite white rubber to add flexibility to the structure, while carrying the load is done by an outer aluminum frame. The folded structure can be mounted in a transport container, which the team claims is much smaller than the actual rocket. The structure can be placed by only two people, something of Aristotle and Sorensen did to test their design. The only difference was that the duo tested LUNARK in the harsh surroundings of Greenland, where they remained in the habitat for 60 days with extreme weather and polar bears.

Source: SAGA Space Architects

With enough space to accommodate two people, the habitat is also designed to be environmentally friendly. The carbon shell is full of solar panels which power a battery of 1000 ampere hours. The habitat is also trying to recycle as much waste as possible that is generated, and has a live algae reactor that can serve as a food source.

Inside the habitat, the dormers mimicked the natural day to help the duo maintain their circadian rhythms, while a time simulator broke the daily monotony. Without any outside help, the duo was also charged with regular maintenance of the habitat, something even astronauts have to contend with. This experience helped them gather important feedback on the improvements needed for the habitat from a structural as well as a functional point of view, which focuses not only on survival but also on mental well-being, the website said.





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