A six-month lunar surface systems study sponsored by The Boeing Company was conducted by the students and faculty of Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture of the University of Houston during the 2020-2021 academic year. This project is the results of the study and outlines the next steps for developing a comprehensive research plan for lunar infrastructure construction. The work presented in this study aimed to develop conceptual design options for a Lunar Terrain Vehicle (Rover) and Small Lunar Habitat. For rover design development, three rover cargo transfer operations scenarios were investigated: 1. minimum; 2. medium; and 3. maximum automation. For each of the autonomous rover cargo transfer scenarios, the study provided recommendations on types of required robotic capabilities and identified design implications for robotic manipulation of the cargo and airlock. The evaluation and analysis of the rover’s optimal capabilities influenced the set of requirements for designing a Small Lunar Habitat that had to be designed for use in late 2020 and to be located at the lunar South Pole. The habitat design aimed to be lander agnostic with an approximate 12m3 volume optimized for the crew of four during a two-week mission. The applied design evaluation strategy included using a physical, mixed reality, or virtual mockup of the habitat, simulating crew activities inside the habitat and/or its segments. The study presents the results of the simulations and design analysis. Various personal, science, industrial, and exploration activities interactions suggested as evaluation criteria for the development of design recommendations on the habitat layout. Limitations of the design evaluation approach using simulations in 1g environment were also identified and recognized. The design of both elements, the rover and habitat, considered them as a system that evolutionary meant to become a part of an overall Lunar Surface Systems Infrastructure. The goal of the study was to provide design concepts and their comprehensive evaluations. They derived from the design and development recommendations based on space architecture strategy of designing all surface elements interconnected with each other’s capabilities, satisfying cross-elements requirements and interfaces compatibility, aiming for evolutionary growth of surface capabilities into a large-scale sustainable infrastructure.
The MLSS study is aimed to develop conceptual design options for a Lunar Terrain Vehicle (Rover) and a Small Lunar Habitat that potentially become a part of an overall Lunar Surface Systems Study. The goal of this work was to provide comprehensive design concept evaluations and derived from them recommendations. Such recommendations were to be based on the space architecture strategy of designing all surface elements interconnected with each other’s objectives and requirements. In general, the Scope of Work defined by Boeing included two themes:
Theme 1: Design and Use of a Lunar Terrain Vehicle (Rover)
– Objective | Identify key design considerations for an unpressurized lunar rover. Provide recommendations on usage scenarios focusing on early phases of rover design (requirements and ConOps development).
Theme 2: Mockup and Simulation for a Small Lunar Habitat
– Objective | Design and construct a mockup of a small lunar habitat. Conduct simulations to validate design layout.
Developing detailed methodology for advancing VR and XR capabilities for design evaluation will be a priority for the next stage of this study’s proposed designs of the LTV and Small Habitat. Evolutionary functional transitions and adaptability to changes of mission tasks will also be among evaluation criteria for proposed design and planning strategies.
In this design phase, anthropometric and functional requirements are defined to allow the crew to perform their necessary activities and satisfy personal needs inside the Habitat. The crew of four will inhabit this confined space between the two compartments and airlock hatches for a period of 14 days and will be required to perform all human activity within it. The assumed activities to be performed inside the Habitat are:
– Other Work and Personal time
First, a basic layout was designed that is shown in Figures 9a and 9b. The basic interior of the Small Lunar Habitat consists of a single central space between the two airlocks with two nooks on either side which each can serve a different purpose.