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Symposium 5

Space Engineering, Construction, and Architecture for Moon, Mars, and Beyond

Co-Chairs: Ramesh B. Malla, Ph.D., F. ASCE, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT; Melissa Sampson, Ph.D., Ball Aerospace, Boulder, CO; Alexander Jablonski, Ph.D., P.Eng, Canadian Space Agency, Ottawa, Canada; and Gerald (Jerry) B. Sanders, NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX

There have been increased activities and interests in space activities, especially lunar and Martian exploration by the public and private sectors alike. Many national and international agencies and space industry are currently involved in the planned lunar missions. The recent United States Space Policy Directive 1 directs NASA to focus on lunar exploration with a new human return to the Moon and then manned missions to Mars. These efforts will involve both robotic and human missions. The recent landing of the Chinese lunar surface probe Chang’e-4 on the far side of the Moon has opened up a new chapter in lunar exploration with plans by several space actors for humans to follow in the late 2020’s.

As the world’s space community prepares to return to the Moon with humans, this time to stay, explore and then settle elsewhere in the Solar System on a long term basis, it is imperative that we continue to support the development of qualified engineering, construction and architecture concepts and guidance for these developments. On Earth, multiple new spaceports have been constructed with modernized methods and operations, providing new insights into enhanced operational efficiencies, This symposium deals with innovative concepts, methods, designs, research, development, and applications related to all aspects of human space exploration, architecture, engineering and construction, including facilities in orbit and on planetary surfaces such as the Moon, Mars, moons of Mars and asteroids, as well as terrestrial spaceports.

Special Session Topics

Innovative Engineering and Construction on the Moon and Mars Utilizing and Harnessing Indigenous Geo-Environmental Resources


Session Organizers: Ramesh B. Malla, Ph.D., F. ASCE, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT and Gerald (Jerry) B. Sanders, NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX

It has been long realized that long term sustainable human settlements on the Moon and Mars are only possible if the local geological and environmental resources can be utilized substantially for day to day operation. Several studies can be found dealing with the use of lunar and Martian regolith for various purposes, including habitat building material, protection against radiation and extreme temperatures, extracting oxygen, and mining. However, in-depth and exhaustive studies on the use of regolith for engineering and construction is still lacking. Moreover, new innovative methodologies for design, engineering and construction need to be developed that exclusively harness and utilize indigenous geological and environmental resources. For example, the extremely hot and cold environment on the lunar surface may someday pave a path for new engineering innovation and technologies. It might even be possible to tap the everlasting radiation on the lunar surface for certain engineering and construction purpose. How about the low gravity and vacuum that exist on the moon? These may be leveraged to come up with new and innovative design and construction technologies. This session presents papers on various aspects of innovative engineering, construction, development, and operations utilizing and harnessing local geo & environmental resources available on the Moon and Mars.

Technical Requirements for Lunar Systems


Session Organizers: Alexander M. Jablonski, Ph.D., Canadian Space Agency, Ottawa, Canada; and Kin F. Man, Ph.D., NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA

The Moon is Earth’s nearest celestial body. It has one of the most challenging natural environments in our solar system. They include: high vacuum, high diurnal temperature variations, super-cold temperatures in the permanently-shadowed regions, abundance of very fine and abrasive lunar dusts, a reduced gravity field (1/6 of Earth’s g), the danger of moonquakes (as high as almost 3.5 on the Richter scale), the danger of meteoroid and micrometeoroid impacts, and the duration of the lunar day. Detailed knowledge of the lunar environmental conditions is crucial for defining the technical requirements for lunar systems and structures. This session focuses on the technical requirements for lunar missions, particularly focusing on lunar system requirements associated with long surface operations, in addition to the technical requirements associated with the other typical mission phases for lunar missions: ground processing, storage, and transportation; launch; cruise; orbit insertion; and EDL (Entry, Descent and Landing). This session also covers the impact of the lunar environmental conditions on ground-based qualification testing requirements and test methodologies to survive the expected long operational life on the lunar surface, at both assembly/subsystem and system levels.

Tensegrity Structural Systems for Moon and Mars Space Applications

Session Organizer: Robert Skelton, Ph.D., Texas A & M University, College Station, TX

Tensegrity concepts have proved to be the minimal mass solution for many fundamental problems in Engineering and provide the possibility of designing strong yet lightweight and robust structures often with the integration of sensors and actuators. Robots made of tensegrity are lightweight yet strong compared to robot by conventional construction. Tensegrity structures have thus been proposed for planetary landing and exploration, as well as systems for space habitats and related functions. The session will deal with concepts and novel applications of tensegrity systems for space exploration including on the Moon and Mars. Papers are solicited on topics dealing with the wide-range of applications of tensegrity systems, including flexible structures, planet landers, deployable space antennas, robots, space debris collector, lunar and Martian rovers, habitats, and others.

Architecture on the Moon and Mars: Designing for Human Space Exploration

Session Organizers: Valentina Sumini, Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA; and Ju hong Park, Ph.D., POSTECH, Pohang, Korea

Considering the renewed interest by ESA and NASA in planning a manned mission respectively to the Moon and Mars by the next few decades and allowing for future human habitats and even cities, this session will focus on design concepts, structural analysis and construction techniques of extra-planetary architecture for human exploration of the Moon and Mars. Designing a structure on an extraterrestrial surface includes several challenges, such as internal pressurization, reduced gravity, high-velocity micrometeoroid impacts, radiation protection, severe Lunar/Martian temperature cycles, safety factors and reliability as well as ease of construction, which must be major components for space structures as they are for significant Earth structures. When designing for space habitats, creativity represents the key element for solving all these several environmental challenges in a unique integrated solution that optimizes the architectural, structural and fabrication requirements.

Structural Morphology for Space Structures on the Moon, Mars and Other Extreme Environments

Session Organizers: Landolf Rhode-Barbarigos, Ph.D., University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL; and Valentina Sumini, Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA

Structural morphology refers to the study of form and shape in structures as well as the relations between form, forces, and material. The session will focus on the relations between form, forces, and materials in structures and systems with applications in challenging environments and space exploration. Topics such as form finding, structural design, optimization, hybrid structural systems, active/deployable/smart structures, new materials and their application for structures as well as fabrication techniques are of special interest. Due to the high cost of transporting resources off of Earth’s surface, new design, control, and fabrication strategies will have to be developed, to be able to rely on the in-situ resources of near-Earth asteroids, the Moon, and Mars to sustain human and robotic activities in space.

Lunar and Martian Habitats: Design Considerations and Construction Challenges

Session Organizer: Sudarshan Krishnan, Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana-Champaign, IL

This session will provide the technical knowledge and guidance related to habitat planning and design in extreme environments of Moon and Mars. The talks will highlight the architectural and structural engineering challenges in the design of Lunar and Martian habitats. The papers will address design issues for zero-gravity and planetary surfaces, spatial planning, material and system selection, and structural design. Accompanying topics may include mechanical aspects related to deployment and construction methods such as 3D printing.

Inflatable Structures: Habitable Applications for Space and Planetary Environments

Session Organizers: Greg Muller, P.E., ILC Dover, Houston, TX; and Ramesh B. Malla, Ph.D., F. ASCE, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT

With manned space flight missions increasing in duration to return to the Moon, and Mars, habitable volume in spacecraft and planetary structures for performing work, living, and storage for supplies must increase as well. Inflatable structures have the potential to provide the needed habitable volumes with fewer rocket launches over traditional structures. This special session will focus on deployable soft good habitat structures and both the benefits and technical challenges they provide for manned space flight and planetary environments. This topic would include soft good materials, construction, deployment, testing and verification, launch packing, radiation protection, simulations, damage protection and repair, terrestrial analogues, planetary resource utilization.

Strategies for Achieving Resilient Extraterrestrial Habitats

Session Organizers: Amin Maghareh, Ph.D., Purdue University, W. Lafayette, IN; Karen Marais, Ph.D., Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN; and Shirley Dyke, Ph.D., Purdue University, W. Lafayette, IN

The evolution of space exploration will eventually lead to extraterrestrial settlement. Beyond the protection of Earth’s atmosphere, future human settlements face new threats stemming from the lack of air pressure, extreme temperature fluctuations, meteorite impacts, high-energy galactic cosmic rays, and solar particle events. Countering these challenges and designing sustainable, long-term human settlements to provide livable conditions in Space require the highest applications of engineering and technology. This special session deals with innovative concepts, methods, designs, research, development, and applications related to achieving resilient Mars and lunar habitats.

Innovative Construction Techniques for Lunar and Martian Environments

Session Organizer: Nipesh Pradhananga, Ph.D., P.E., Florida International University, Miami, FL

“Out of the world” problems demand “out of the world” solutions. This special session deals with ground-breaking methods and innovative designs in extra-terrestrial construction. Papers are solicited on topics ranging from excavation and mining techniques; robotics/automated construction, maintenance and repair; infrastructure construction, assembly and advanced process monitoring ideas pertaining, but not limited to, human habitats, temporary structures, and infrastructure on the harsh lunar environments of low gravity, vacuum, radiation exposure, and extreme temperature. The session will encompass novel contribution to experimental, analytical, and computational techniques, including real-time automated construction operation analysis, construction simulation and informatics, data visualization and virtual reality, construction management, advancement in real-time monitoring and resource optimization, modular construction, lean construction, 3d printing and artificial intelligence in construction as well as material, sustainability and safety applicable to Lunar and Martian surfaces

Robotics Development for Lunar and Martian Constructions

Session Organizer: Mustafa Alsaleh, Ph.D., Caterpillar, Inc., Peoria, IL

The recent literature review has clearly shown the great deal of focus on robotics development in variety of applications, including construction repair, and maintenance in the harsh space environments, in orbit and on the lunar and Martian surfaces. Robotics design, development or building is not trivial and often goes through many iterations to get it right, especially in the harsh, extreme and previously untested conditions that exist in space. Leveraging simulations should make this process easier to deal with as the simulation makes it possible to cut down the number of design, build and test iterations. Simulation can enable new applications and allow testing before building any physical model. Once design is finalized, less physical testing can be used to confirm the intended functioning of the robots. This special session deals with robotics development and application for space engineering and construction, especially on lunar and Martian environment. Papers dealing with various topics in these areas are solicited.

3D Printing Applications for Lunar and Martian Construction

Session Organizer: Seung Jae Lee, Ph.D., Florida International University, Miami, FL

In the recent efforts to enable a long-term presence on Moon, Mars, or other planets, the research community has explored the innovative concepts using 3D printing to enable the extraterrestrial human habitat, structural facilities, life support systems, etc. The 3D printing has gained popularity due to many potential advantages, e.g., the inherent effectiveness of leveraging the indigenous soil for the space radiation shielding, the minimized transportation of construction resources from Earth. Furthermore, the 3D printing began to be adopted for developing the synthetic particles to experimentally study/simulate the geotechnical behavior of extraterrestrial soils in the laboratory. This special session will provide a forum for the state of knowledge on the broad topics pertaining to the recent innovations in 3D printing applications targeted at Lunar and Martian construction.

Building Information Modeling (BIM): Digital Representation of Physical and Functional Characteristics of Space Facilities

Session Organizer: Robert Mueller, NASA Kennedy Space Center, FL

BIM use refers to the goal of delivering any multi-dimensional computer model. The BIM uses for this special session include Habitat Modeling, Site Layout Planning, Construction Equipment, Indigenous feedstocks, 3D-Printer and Autonomous Feeding System (Equipment) Flow and Virtual Prototyping.

(3D BIM) Habitat Modeling – the metadata integrated model used to depict an accurate representation of physical conditions, printing environment, and assets of the facility.

(4D BIM) Construction Sequencing – the model used to graphically represent both permanent and temporary facilities on site during multiple phases of the construction process.

(4D BIM) Equipment and Material Flow – the model used to demonstrate the movements of construction methods including, but not limited to 3D-printers, material handling, and all autonomous systems on site.

(4D BIM) Virtual Mockup – the model used to design and analyze the construction of the facility components to improve their planning and constructability.

Terrestrial Spaceports: New Construction Projects and Lessons Learned

Session Organizers: Robert P. Mueller, NASA Kennedy Space Center, FL; and James T. Barrett, Turner Construction, New York, NY

In recent years there has been significant activity in the construction of terrestrial spaceports to support the launch and landing of space transportation vehicles, both in the USA and worldwide. The impetus for this renaissance in spaceport construction has been the entry of new actors into the space launch and landing business. Commercial entities and government entities are introducing new transportation systems with increased life cycle efficiencies, incorporating the lessons learned from the past 60 years of spaceport operations. Reusability and reduced cost have become new drivers in the spaceport design and operations. Small launch vehicles for small satellite constellations need efficient and routine launching capabilities. The military is seeking a rapid response capability. Spaceports are also expanding beyond the Earth’s surface to the Moon and Mars, where spaceports must also be constructed to support reusability and in-situ re-fueling. Lessons learned from spaceport terrestrial construction can be applied to these new extreme environments with innovative engineering and operations. Papers are sought that will communicate the construction project sequences, experiences and lessons learned from recent spaceport construction and which will identify technology advancements achieved and also those that are likely to be required in the future.

Building a Viable Space Engineering and Construction Economy: How Companies Partner to Open the Final Frontier (Panel discussion- No papers requested)

Session Organizer: Jeff Hopkins, Astrobotic Technology, Inc., Pittsburgh, PA

There are a plethora of exciting technologies and companies expanding into cislunar space. In order to build a self-sustaining economy, the space community will need to work together. This session will discuss how small and large companies and government agencies can partner and effectively execute projects related to engineering and construction for efficient, safe, economically advantageous, and peaceful exploration and development of space and extraplanetary surfaces.

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