Potential applications include hurricane-relief housing.
Modular, lightweight, fully equipped buildings comprising hybrids of rigid and inflatable structures can be assembled on Earth and then transported to and deployed on the Moon for use as habitats. Modified versions of these buildings could also prove useful on Earth as shelters that can be rapidly and easily erected in emergency situations and/or extreme environments: examples include shelters for hurricane relief and for Antarctic exploration.
A building according to the proposal (see figure) would include a rigid composite-material module containing an inner room, plus two inflatable sections that, once inflated, would contain two
anterooms. After inflation, the building as thus fully deployed (109 m3) could have a volume significantly greater than it had when it was stowed compactly (48 m3) for transport.
The walls of the inflatable anteroom modules would be made of a multilayer fabric-reinforced, flexible material impermeable by air, combined with high-tensile-strength cables or binding straps and with deployable rigidifying polyethylene foam. Equipment and subsystems needed for habitation would be integrated into the roof and ceiling plenum spaces of the rigid module to ensure that ducting, wiring, and plumbing all have solid connections to environmental control life support systems, avionics, power supplies, and the module structure.
Integrated into the inflatable modules would be non-flammable Nomex (or equivalent aramid) fabric floors, partitions, and furniture consisting mainly of fabric beds for crewmembers. Upon inflation, the floors, partitions, beds, and any other furniture would become deployed into place.
Attached to the rigid module would be a deployable mast that would serve as both a structural element, solar array mast, and a radio-communication tower: Tension cables attached between the anterooms and the mast would support part of the weight of the anterooms. The mast could support external electronic cameras, communication antennas, and fiber-optic light collectors.
This work was done by Kriss J. Kennedy of Johnson Space Center. For more information, download the Technical Support Package (free white paper) at www.techbriefs.com/tsp under the Manufacturing & Prototyping category. MSC-24242-1