NE@Lunar Hab

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NE@Lunar Hab
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NE@The Lunar Hab

Featuring: NASA EDGE visits one of NASA's inflatable lunar habitat concepts.

NASA EDGE visits one of NASA's lunar habitat concepts. Chris conducts an interview with Karen Witley, while Blair conducts his own unique research.

NASA EDGE spends some much needed time on the lunar surface. Well, not exactly. Karen Witley and Chris Giersch visit one of NASA's inflatable lunar habitat concepts at NASA Langley to talk about some of the challenges of establishing a long-term presence on the Moon. Blair, on the other hand, is struck by the challenges of establishing a long-term presence at NASA.

CHRIS: We're here today to talk about the inflatable habitat. Karen, tell us about this structure behind us.

KAREN: This is an inflatable lunar habitat structure concept.

CHRIS: Okay.

KAREN: It's just an idea for a house that could go on the moon.

CHRIS: Pretty cool. You say it's inflatable. Why are we looking at inflatable structures as opposed to maybe rigid structures?

KAREN: Because inflatable structures, you can pack them in just about any shape in a much smaller volume than you can a hard structure.

CHRIS: And that's really important. Because mass is a critical factor when you're getting hardware up to the moon.

KAREN: Mass and volume. Volume is what's critical.

CHRIS: When you look at inflatable structures, what kind of materials are we looking at?

KAREN: This one is made out of nylon, which is not a material that would be suitable for a lunar environment. A real lunar habitat would be made out of something like Vectran, which is a liquid crystalline polymer that’s high strength and durable and holds up to low temperatures.

CHRIS: That's awesome. Now, this particular concept here, would that be considered a big habitat, a small habitat?

KAREN: This habitat is 50 cubic meters and it's not real big. It might be something suitable for an airlock size or an outpost mission or a field experiment type mission. But the habitat the astronauts would live in would probably be 150 cubic meters.

CHRIS: Looking at this structure here, they take it up to the lunar surface. They're going to have some type of crane device putting it on the ground and it just inflates, just like a balloon or inflating a basketball?

KAREN: Hopefully the final design will do something like that with minimal astronaut work put into putting it up. This one is not totally collapsible that would go into a lander that would go onto the lunar surface.

CHRIS: I understand that looking at this structure, there's two parts. There's the airlocks in the front here?

KAREN: Right. The smaller part that's 1.5 meters in diameter is the airlock cart. The main hab part is 3.65 meters in diameter.

CHRIS: Do you think we can go inside?

KAREN: Oh yeah!

CHRIS: Let's go check it out. Come on, let's go.

CHRIS: Okay Karen, we're here in the airlock. What's the purpose of the airlock?

KAREN: This is so you can go from one atmosphere pressure to the other. On the moon's surface, there is no atmosphere. There's a vacuum. When you open this door, you're still in a vacuum and you can't breath.

CHRIS: Right.

KAREN: We have to shut this door. Close this vent.

CHRIS: Right.

KAREN: And then, open the vent on this door, so it equalizes the pressure in here, so it's the same as in there. And then it'll be safe to take off your astronaut helmet and you can breath, and you can go inside the main hab.

CHRIS: That's why I noticed when you opened up this valve, all the air comes rushing to my face.

KAREN: Exactly.

CHRIS: We're pressurized ready to go?

KAREN: That's right.

CHRIS: And we can go into the hab?


CHRIS: Okay, let's do that. Just open up this door like this?

CHRIS: What's that water noise? I thought you said…

KAREN: Water? What water? There's not supposed to be water running in here.

CHRIS: Sounds like a shower.

KAREN: We've got a mock-up shower.

BLAIR: Hey Chris, could you hand me that mug right there? Yeah.

CHRIS: Hey Blair.

BLAIR: Oh, hey. Oh hi Karen. How's it going?

KAREN: Hi Blair?

BLAIR: Sorry, I’ll be out in just a second.

CHRIS: So tell us about this mockup here. I see you have some shelving, some computers. What's going on here?

KAREN: There are certain things that you need to go to live on the moon. We had some LARSS students that came here last summer. I gave them the job of being interior designers.

CHRIS: So the LARSS students are just summer students that work here at NASA Langley for the summer? College. High school.

KAREN: Right.

CHRIS: Okay.

KAREN: Right. They were two high school students. They provided a sleeping area.

CHRIS: Okay.

KAREN: They have a storage area. They have a food area.

BLAIR: Not bad. Not bad.

CHRIS: You doing okay?

BLAIR: Oh yes. Refreshing. I'm living the life, getting ready for a little Earthrise.

CHRIS: How long have you been in here?

BLAIR: About 72 hours.

CHRIS: Oh really?

BLAIR: Oh yeah. Excuse the mess over there. Sorry about that. It's like a New York bachelor pad right now. Not that I know what that's like.

KAREN: They had a talk with the astronaut Jerry Ross. He told them some things they needed and some things they didn't need. He said the astronauts do not need a refrigerator.

CHRIS: Okay.

KAREN: And they could not take a microwave because it takes up too much power but they could have a convection oven.

CHRIS: Oh cool. Yes.

KAREN: They made up a mockup of a convection oven.

CHRIS: That's a top quality convection oven.

KAREN: It is. Look at this. There you go.

CHRIS: Look at that. Not bad.

KAREN: They have a work area here. And he talked a lot about the shower facilities.

BLAIR: Which are great, by the way.

[both laughing]

BLAIR: I don't know whose this is. It's got the little wind chime buttons. It makes a little noise every time I skip around. I scared my little puppy, Enterprise, earlier.

CHRIS: Now, you say this is 50 cubic meters?

KAREN: 50 cubic meters.

CHRIS: Meters, okay. How many astronauts in this type of situation would probably work in here? Just two?

KAREN: This would probably be two for a living condition. For an airlock you could accommodate more astronauts.

CHRIS: You've got the workstation. You've got the bed. You've got the shower facility. Is there a restroom facility?

BLAIR: Oh, yeah.

CHRIS: It works?

BLAIR: Oh, yeah. Trust me, a lot better than Mars.

CHRIS: This is really cool, Karen. I want to thank you for taking time out to show us this inflatable lunar habitat. And, I don't know man.

BLAIR: No man, it's great.

CHRIS: I question you sometimes.

BLAIR: It's great. I don't know whose this is. I hope they don't mind. I will dry clean it.

CHRIS: What happened was he accidentally got stuck in the Orion Flight Test Article and got shipped to Dryden. He was actually in the structure and we couldn't get him out. He flew across country in a plane.

BLAIR: This is much better, far better. Let me tell you, it's like luxury living.

CHRIS: We need to take him to the doctor.

CHRIS: Thanks Karen. I hope when the next generation hab or the next iteration comes out, hopefully, we'll get a chance to get inside and take a look at it.

KAREN: I hope so too.

CHRIS: Cool. Hey you're watching NASA Edge.

KAREN: Inside and inside all things NASA.

CHRIS: I like how she talks.

KAREN: Oh, I forgot the look part. Inside and inside look all things NASA.

CHRIS: I like that.

BLAIR: You know…

CHRIS: She even corrected herself.

BLAIR: That's like me. I've corrected myself many times. But no, that's a fine job for someone not wearing a pink robe and shower cap.

CHRIS: Dude, Karen said you already used your water supply for the shower. You don't have any water to rinse.

BLAIR: No worries. [swallowing sound] Oh, wow.

CHRIS: You've got to be kid… Agh.

BLAIR: Yeah, we need to get some water. I need…

CHRIS: Only Blair.

BLAIR: Let's do something. That's pretty brutal.

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