Utilization of in Situ resources is a fundamental capability to be developed for the construction of permanent and semi-permanent structures on Mars and the Moon. Nevertheless, direct human contact with regolith would jeopardize crew health. New design strategies that address such problems need to be explored and developed. This paper presents a feasible design for a hybrid class 2 / class 3 outpost that includes ISRU structures integrated with prefabricated inflatable and solid elements, both for pressurized and infrastructure elements. The Architectural Design Thesis Laboratory of the Polytechnic University of Bari conducted research on this topic, and, under the name of archi.mars, the group designed a permanent and self-sufficient settlement: “HiveMars”. The proposal explores a concept for the integration of ISRU-enabled and prefabricated structures to create a scalable infrastructure capable of supporting human life on the surface. To reduce mission costs and launch load from Earth, eight different automated rovers will prepare the site area before the crew’s arrival. Following the site exploration phase (identified in the Hellas Planitia, in the martian southern hemisphere) the automated surface assets will proceed with the material collection, processing, and construction of the main infrastructures, including Landing pads and roads. The first habitat nucleus is composed of three self-supporting, interconnected domes, built with Martian regolith using additive manufacturing, and outfitted with an inflatable, pressurized core that hosts the pre-integrated ECLSS systems and the internal infrastructure. A pre-integrated dome on the top of the prefabricated core ensures the right amount of natural light while protecting the internal habitat from radiations and micro-meteoroid impacts.
Supervisors: Vittorio Netti, Prof.Giuseppe Fallacara
Team: Mirha Vlahovljak, Isabella Paradiso, Federica Buono, Alessandro Angione, Hana Zečević, Ivana Fuscello
The priority of the first human outpost on Mars will be to protect the health and safety of the crew and to support life through good design practices for habitability and human factors. This project aims to provide both the living and working environment for eight crew members during 670 – sol mission duration. The project is focused on the architecture of Martian habitats to be built through automated surface assets which will support the site preparation for human crews, collecting resources, and construction materials from local resources. The project, named Hive Mars, presents a feasible design that aims is to reduce the launch mass and cost of future human surface missions, considering extensive usage of in-situ resources and current and near-future technologies to guarantee crew self-sustainment for a Martian settlement. Hive Mars is based on three case studies: the Marsha Space Habitat by Ai SpaceFactory group, winner of the NASA 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge 2015. This project proposes the use of a recyclable biopolymer composite to manufacture the habitat’s inner structure and to use processed local regolith for the external shell. The second case study, the NASA Design References Architecture 5.0, is the most recent version of the Martian mission architecture conceived by NASA. The architecture proposes three different missions in three different sites. In the preliminary phase of the project, consequentially to the definition of the geological, biological, and human factor objectives, a monolithic, class 1 habitat is proposed as the main outpost, while all the exploration activities make use of pressurized and non-pressurized vehicles to conduct medium and long-range research missions. This project also considers the use of in situ resources for the production of consumables such as oxygen, water, and propellant. Finally, the last chosen case study is the Mars habitat created by the Hassell+Eckersley O’Callaghan who participated in NASA’s 3D-printed habitat Challenge. To address the radiation problems, the group designed an external shell manufactured in Martian regolith with autonomous robotic rovers to protect a hybrid class 1/2 habitat. The three different case studies have been chosen for their relevance to the topic and the different approaches, achieved through the use of the latest innovations in the field of additive manufacturing using ISRU.
A complex outpost needs a robust infrastructural system that can support surface development. This system is composed of different elements designed for tasks such as energy production and distribution, material processing, and storage. Most of these elements are technologically too complex to be manufactured in situ and they will be prefabricated on Earth. Since these surface elements are fundamental for settlement self-sustainment, proper redundancy and tolerance need to be assessed, to overcome unknown danger and malfunctions that can jeopardize the life-sustainment capabilities of the human-rated systems. These elements will be mostly located in two different areas at a distance from the habitat: the ISRU and Power production area. All the elements that aren’t brought from the Earth are built using in situ resources, exploiting the local regolith andice deposits. The HiveMars project takes into consideration the entire infrastructure, not only the habitat module. This section will be described the different areas that characterize the system, and their roles in the mission structure. The arrival of the first Cargo Starship is scheduled for January 2032. Once the landing has taken place, all the machinery necessary for the preparation and exploration of the site is deployed on the surface before the arrival of the crew, which will happen three years later. First of all, the Spider Explorer survey the designed construction area to provide detailed information about the site to the construction rovers, such as the presence of water in the subsoil. Subsequently, the Flattener rover will level the terrain and free the area from the rocks that can‘t be processed. In the second phase, the Bee Excavator and Bee Transporter rovers will dig the foundation’s area and collect the regolith for the transport to the ISRU area, where it will be processed, and where the activities of water extraction, production of oxygen, and propellant take place. Once the regolith is processed, it‘s transferred to the 3D Printer rover, which will print the protective wall of the primary landing pad, the rover pathway, and the shell of the habitat. the Kilopower reactors and solar panels are so placed robotically within the energy production area, and the electric cables are laid down until the habitat area, at 300m of distance. Just after the construction of the first habitat module, the site will be ready to host the first crew which will land on Martian soil with the SLS BLOCK 1B vehicle in 2036. Upon its arrival, the astronauts will find the Archimars PressurizedRover waiting at the landing pad to take them to the habitat. The first nucleus consists of three multifunctional units, one main and two secondary, and an unpressurized hangar to protect the vehicle during sandstorms and solar events.
The habitat structure consists of an external Class 3 shell and an inflatable Class 2 internal structure. The external structure refers to historical models of the Nubian dome and takes the shape of a dome with an ogival section truncated at the top. It reaches an external diameter of 15m and a height of 13m for the central dome while the two lateral ones have an external diameter of 13m and a height of 11m. The thickness at the base of the ogival dome reaches the size of 1.5m and narrows as the highest point is reached, becoming thinner to 0.50m which is equivalent to a minimum thickness required in the design of planetary habitats. This thickness favors adequate protection of the inflatable living module, placed in its internal volume, from the Martian severe weather such as sandstorms, meteor showers due to the weak magnetic field and shielding from solar and background radiations which are extremely harmful to the humans, especially for long exposure time . The ogival profile of the wall thickness is interrupted by the presence of joints placed along the lines oriented at 120°from the center of the main dome. Each joint follows an ogival arched section and in the central part, has a circular passage that allows the correct positioning of the prefabricated modules such as the airlocks, windows, and Hatches. Between the domes, there is a joint of suitable thickness that allows each dome to be detached to avoid collision between the independent external shells during seismic events, although less frequent than those on earth. In particular, the shell presents a smooth surface on the inside while the outside is modeled onto a parametric tridimensional texture that allows better thermal management and protection against micrometeoroid impact. The choice of an external textured finiture responds to two determining factors such as the self-shading of the structure itself and the ability to retain the dust that is deposited on it. Over time, this dust stiffens the structure and also increases the wall thickness, resulting in additional protection.