Sohrob Mottaghi, Sohrob Mottaghi
2013 unpublished
The next step for manned exploration and settlement is a return to the Moon. In such a return, the most challenging task is the construction of structures for habitation, considering the Moon's hostile environment. Therefore the question is: What is the best way to erect habitable structures on the lunar surface? Given the cost associated with bringing material to the Moon, In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) is viewed by most as the basis for a successful manned exploration and settlement of
more » ... and settlement of the Solar system. Along these lines, we propose an advanced concept where the use of freeform fabrication technologies by autonomous mini-robots can form the basis for habitable lunar structures. Also, locally-available magnesium is proposed as the structural material. While it is one of the most pervasive metals in the regolith, magnesium has been only suggested only briefly as a viable option in the past. Therefore, a study has been conducted on magnesium and its alloys, taking into account the availability of the alloying elements on the Moon. iii An igloo-shaped magnesium structure, covered by sandbags of regolith shielding and supported on a sintered regolith foundation, is considered as a potential design of a lunar base, as well as the test bed for the proposed vision. Three studies are carried out: First a static analysis is conducted which proves the feasibility of the proposed material and method. Second, a thermal analysis is carried out to study the effect of the regolith shielding as well as the sensitivity of such designs to measurement uncertainties of regolith and sintered thermal properties. The lunar thermal environment is modeled for a potential site at 88º latitude in the lunar South Pole Region. Our analysis shows that the uncertainties are in an acceptable range where a three-meter thick shield is considered. Also, the required capacity of a thermal rejection system is estimated, choosing the thermal loads to be those of the Space Station modules. In the third study, a seismic model based on best available data has been developed and applied to our typical structure to assess the vulnerability of designs that ignore seismicity. Using random vibration and modal superposition methods, the structural response to a lunar seismic event of 7 Richter magnitude indicates that the seismic risk is very low. However, it must be considered for certain types of structural designs. iv