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Lunar Research Station Design Challenge

Final Design
Lunar Research Station Design Challenge
Ms. Garay's 6th Grade students
Redd School


I.  Analog location: The Davis Mountains in West Texas.

    Reasons for: Our location in Houston is too tropical to be considered as an analog location. Even on our school grounds, we have too many buildings, plants, trees and people for it to be like the Moon. We wanted something more similar to the Moon’s environment. In the Davis Mountains there are remote areas that make you feel like you are on the Moon. This mountain range was formed by very heavy volcanic activity during the Cenozoic Era. Volcanoes here erupted for 10 million years! There is igneous rock here that reminds us of the basalt you can find on the Moon. But this area would be a good, isolated environment with little traffic if you travel far into the mountains.

The weather can be very cold or hot, similar to the Moon. Also, cell phones may not work, so computers and ham radios may be the way to communicate, just like when you are on the Moon trying to talk to someone on Earth!

Reasons Against: Although the mountains are volcanic and give some desolate places to build a good research station, it is surrounded on the low lands by vegetation, which is not found on the Moon.

Spin-off Activity: Our class will participate in a remote communication exercise, using walkie-talkies. Two teams will exchange information from different locations: one team will give directions for building a machine using Legos, while the other team builds it based on their instructions. The purpose will be to demonstrate what it might be like to assemble a project in a remote research station with only radio communication. (Thanks for the idea Mr. Allner!)

II. Research Station: Our research station is built inside of the actual module that travels to the Moon. It will be able to land at the site picked, and the astronauts and research team will work right in the same place they traveled in. After the work is done, they will be able to take off from the Moon. This will keep the cost of building a separate research station on the Moon down. It will also keep the research safe in case of emergency. Our idea is to have the module land inside of a crater to help protect it from the radiation, dust, and meteors. In the Davis Mts. the station could be built in a canyon.

Our finished model is shown built inside of a meteor crater on the Moon, with half of the terrain showing the backdrop of the Davis Mts. As you can see, the rocket ship itself (center) houses the research station. We have included a floor plan and outpost layout.

photo of model student drawing of top floor of the research station
student drawing of the  bottom floor student layout of outpost layout


While we were building the model, many ideas came to us about how to build so much into such a small space, and changes that needed to be made.

 These include:

  • Building counters or work stations so that they slide into the walls.
  • Building sleeping cots that fold up and lock into place when not in use.
  • Building a ladder to get between floors (on Earth) that folds up like a mini-blind.
  • We changed the shape of the conference table from a rectangle to a circle to make more room. It also collapses into the floor, and is raised only when needed.
  • All storage bins and compartments are built into the walls.
  • We added an in-situ re-cycling center for water and oxygen inside the research station, and also a bioregenerative system that would create an ecosystem between humans, plants, and machines, and would provide food for eating. Wheat and other plants that would grow well and produce food sources would be best. Also, we would grow these plants in recycled water instead of soil. Our light source would be LED lighting made by solar energy caught by solar panels.

bioregenrative station

  • An instrument panel for flying the spacecraft would be in the communications/computer station. This area also has a large observation window and several computer screens where cameras could monitor the surroundings.
  • A communication satellite would orbit the Moon and observe conditions on the surface.

communiction satellite

  • We added a fan/vacuum system and showers into the airlock area where returning EVA astronauts could get rid of the Moon dust, etc.
  • New spacesuits were designed to be thinner (not as bulky), yet protective enough for the safety of the astronauts. One of our pictures shows the different layers of the suit, another show the “look” of the future! A Geology EVA suit complete with lasers(for cutting into rock), form-fiting gloves for easier hand control, and seismic sensors to detect moonquakes.      
spacesuit model student drawing of EVA suit
  • An emergency protective shield area was designed on the top floor of the research station. It encloses the area with the kitchen, and quiet space (with books, music, etc) so that astronauts can be protected for long periods of time from radiation issues, like solar storms, and still have some things to do while they wait. The window in that area and the door will have radiation shields that will come down with the touch of a panic button.
  • For astronauts outside, an emergency tunnel located through the crater wall can give protection from solar events, meteor showers, etc. It will contain emergency supplies.
  • Exercise equipment for cardio-workouts and maintaining muscle strength-bicycles, treadmills, and resistance machines (can use Elastic bands). A first aid station with defibrillators will be included.
  • Machines were designed from Legos for drilling, and prospecting for water and minerals. We also have a short range lunar vehicle (moon buggy) and built a shed for storing them. It is our idea that future machines on the Moon will have to be made of very lightweight materials that can be easily assembled (like working with Legos), yet durable and strong for the Moons terrain. Robotics will be very important!


machines out of legos tools & machine shed
  • Our machines and robots include: A Walking construction machine. It “walks” by lifting its “legs” alternately. This will make it easier to walk over rocks, soil, and other materials that might stick to wheels. Two ideas for robots include using them with motorized or pneumatic claws for lifting and carrying specimens, or attaching drills and other tools. One can also be used for search and scouting.
  • All of the buildings on our Lunar outpost would be permanent, except for the research station/spaceship.
  • The spaceship will have to be big enough to have the research station in it, yet lightweight enough so that fuel costs can be kept down.
  • Materials for this spaceship construction and for the outpost still have not been decided on.
  • Power for the outpost would be a combination of large solar arrays and back-up batteries.           
power station lolar arrays & batteries
  • For this reason, our crater location on the Moon needs to be in an area where sunlight is available. Our suggestion is the Northern part of Mare Imbrium. This location has flat areas suitable for landing and building on, and also craters for protection It will also give us sunlight, access to polar icecaps (for water), and some night time to keep our biorhythms as regular as possible.
  • picture of moon with site indicated

Thanks for reading about our plans!


 FirstGov  NASA

NASA Official: Mark León
Last Updated: May 2005
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