Habitation Concepts for Human Missions Beyond Low-Earth-Orbit

September 13, 2016

Author: David Smitherman, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center.

Figure 4. Build Sequence (NASA).

Abstract: The Advanced Concepts Office at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center has been engaged for several years in a variety of study activities to help define various options for deep space habitation. This work includes study activities supporting asteroid, lunar and Mars mission activities for the Human spaceflight Architecture Team (HAT), the Deep Space Habitat (DSH) project, and the Exploration Augmentation Module (EAM) project through the NASA Advanced Exploration Systems (AES) Program. The missions under consideration required human habitation beyond low-Earth-orbit (LEO) including deep space habitation in the lunar vicinity to support asteroid retrieval missions, human and robotic lunar surface missions, deep space research facilities, Mars vehicle servicing, and Mars transit missions. Additional considerations included international interest and near term capabilities through the International Space Station (ISS) and Space Launch System (SLS) programs. A variety of habitat layouts have been considered, including those derived from the existing ISS systems, those that could be fabricated from SLS components, and other approaches. This paper presents an overview of several leading designs explored in late fiscal year (FY) 2015 for asteroid, lunar, and Mars mission habitats and identifies some of the known advantages and disadvantages inherent in each. Key findings indicate that module diameters larger than those used for ISS can offer lighter structures per unit volume, and sufficient volume to accommodate consumables for long-duration missions in deep space. The information provided with the findings includes mass and volume data that should be helpful to future exploration mission planning and deep space habitat design efforts.

Full paper availability at:

NASA Technical Report Server: https://ntrs.nasa.gov/citations/20160012094

American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics: https://arc.aiaa.org/doi/10.2514/6.2016-5216



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David Smitherman

David Smitherman


Retired from NASA. Architect, space architect and writer on science, technology, travel, and social issues. See the “Reading List” for introductory Greetings.