2.1 – Where do you want to build your Moon Camp? Explain your choice.
The shelter is made for a maximum of 5 days of darkness, so the base location options are actually very limited to a few areas of the South Pole, namely the rim of Shackleton Crater. If it was in the dark for more than five days, it would freeze. Being 18 m tall the solar panel will be illuminated even longer than the rest of the base.
Lighting is the only limiting criterion for the location of the shelter itself, but further development that will need access to water ice in permanently shaded regions needs to be considered. Fortunately, the edge of the Shackleton crater also meets this criterion.
2.2 – How do you plan to build your Moon Camp? Consider how you can utilise the Moon’s natural resources, and which materials you would need to bring from Earth. Describe the techniques, materials and your design choices.
The shelter will be brought entirely from Earth. It will launch using Ariane 6 + EL3, or rather Ariane NEXT + EL3 (or some successor of EL3). After launch and flyby to the Moon, the EL3 will land with the shelter and then be unloaded from the EL3. We haven’t designed the exact shelter unloading mechanism yet, because we don’t know what the EL3 will look like exactly.
The only thing used to “build” the shelter will be the lunar regolith as a radiation shield. Eventually, 16 bags of regolith will be placed around the shelter, providing 0.5 meters of radiation shielding. The bags will be filled using the RASSOR excavator. It moves up to 700 kg of regolith per day. Each bag contains 1200 kg of regolith. During the first mission, only four sacks around the sleeping quarters will be filled, which will take 7 days. RASSOR always collects regolith and then drives up the ramp to the tops of the bags, where it dumps the regolith. The crew will have to relocate the ramp after each bag is filled. The rest will take place in autonomous mode.
As for the construction of the shelter, we mainly use a light but strong carbon composite, which allowed us to reduce the overall weight.
In the future, bags will no longer be used for radiation shielding, but rather 3D printing from regolith. It can be used to make garages for rovers and can be used to create protection for inflatable habitats.
2.3 – How does your Moon Camp protect and provide shelter to your astronauts against the Moon’s harsh environment?
On the Moon, we encounter several types of radiation, namely GCR, SPE, and secondary radiation created after the interaction of GCR or SPE with materials. Given the short duration of the mission (14 days), the dose received from the GCR is acceptable (as we know thanks to Apollo). The problem would be if the crew inside were hit by the SPE. Although the probability is low, it could have fatal consequences. Therefore, during the first mission, 0.5 m of regolith shielding will be added around the crew quarters and will be completed around the entire shelter during subsequent missions. This will be enough to protect against smaller solar storms. As the missions get longer, additional shielding will need to be added against large storms.
Micrometeoroids are less common in lunar space and orbital debris is not present at all, so 3mm of carbon composite and MLI will stop them. Adding regolith shielding increases safety even further.
A porch serves as protection against dust. Its interior will be semi-clean and serves, among other things, as storage for things that may not be in the module. Astronauts clean themselves carefully before entering the porch. The dust that gets inside is filtered out by an atmosphere revitalization system, specifically a filter located in each lithium hydroxide canister. The output of the atmosphere revitalization system is in the crew quarters.
Another aspect is the thermal environment. During the crew’s stay in the lights, the shelter systems will have 8 kW of input power that needs to be radiated. We will use a 10 m long radiator to radiate the excess heat. During the five days of darkness, when the crew is not present, the cover will lose 48 kWh, which needs to be supplied by lithium-ion batteries to keep the systems from freezing.