Nevada Researchers to Design Space Habitat
(Las Vegas - March 10, 2010) The National Aeronautics and Space Administration Office of Education, in cooperation with the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, has funded The Nevada Space Grant Consortium to design extraterrestrial habitation facilities with a goal to enable existence on the moon and Mars.
Each habitat will be a unique prototype directly linked to the conditions and materials found on the lunar surface as well as Mars. "These habitats will serve as main bases for exploration in the extraterrestrial environments," Nevada NASA Space Grant Consortium Director Christian Fritsen says. "Research in this area is a key element in current human lunar-Mars mission planning. Proper design and construction of a livable habitat is crucial to sustain human exploration."
In the new project, researchers at UNLV in partnership with a Las Vegas based company specializing in high-tech construction, Built on Integrity, will work to design habitats using lunar regolith as a concrete matrix and place preliminary habitats at selected analog sites on Earth in order to further understand their use in studies of geology, biology, and environmental conditions on the moon and Mars. "We have put an excellent team together of university faculty, students and private industry," says Darrell Pepper, UNLV Professor and Director of Mechanical Engineering. "Designing and building habitats that will one day be established on the moon is daunting, but we look forward to the challenge."
Previous efforts by the Nevada team in 2001 resulted in a unique station being designed and built as a centerpiece for the Mars Society. The cylindrical habitat was eight meters in diameter and incorporated a two-deck structure mounted on landing struts made from foam panels and 16-gauge steel. Its design can be found featured in many renderings of moon and Mars habitats in popular media. To view images, visit Mars Habitat at www.spaceconstruction.com.
Collaborative partners include: Space Center Houston, Ignacio Gonzales Architecture, Krueger Enterprises, MaxCare, Carr Engineering, and International Air and Space Educational Foundation.
The late Ralph Steckler, a successful assistant film director and photographer from Southern California, maintained a lifelong interest in space colonization. Steckler left the significant remainder of his estate to NASA for the colonization of space because he believed "it is for the betterment of mankind." NASA accepted the gift under the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Act. The Steckler Fund supports projects aimed at making meaningful and enduring advances in research and/or technology development for space colonization with an effort to increase its understanding.
The ESMD establishes NASA's exploration research and technology development agenda. Specifically, ESMD develops capabilities and supporting research and technology that will enable sustained and affordable human and robotic exploration. It also works to ensure the health and performance of crews during long-duration space exploration.
Congress incorporated the Vision for Space Exploration into U.S. law through the NASA Authorization Act of 2005. The vision commits the United States to implement a sustained and affordable human and robotic program, including extending human presence across the solar system, starting with a human return to the moon by 2020.