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Lunar Research Station Design Challenge

Submitted by Redd School  6th Grade students

Link to Expert Response

     The sixth grade class at Redd School., Houston Texas submits the following outline of its’ proposed design for a research station and the analog location here in Texas.

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. 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, even though this is more rhyolitic. But this area could be a good, isolated area with little traffic if you get far into the mountains.

And, 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- not like the Moon.

II. Research Station: Our research station will be built inside of the module that is carried 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 or in an ancient caldera).

Research that we will do on the Moon will be first to figure out how to get oxygen and water from rocks. If we don’t have those two things it will be very hard to ever have a real moonbase!

Our research station on the Moon will include a building to be built for the robots we will use, robots for helping in the mining and work, transportation that will help scientists explore the Moon(short range space craft) and combination power stations and plants like the ***** that will provide water and oxygen to our crews. A greenhouse will be built to support the experiments for growing food and providing oxygen. Everything except the research station will be permanently built and stored there.

III. Materials- weare still researching what materials would be best for the Moon environment. We need strong materials that will last and give good protection, but not cost  a lot because we have a set budget! We are working on this.

IV. Safety Issues: We are designing a space suit that is not as difficult to work in, but gives very good protection from radiation, heat, and micrometeorites. In our research station, we have double airlocks and areas for de-contamination and plans for how to get rid of dust and anything else. We also want the materials that the module is made up of to be strong enough to keep meteorites and radiation from destroying it. And we have a medic and emergency area to handle any problems that might come up.

V. Power- Our idea is to have the majority of the power come from solar panels like on the space station. They would be very large panels that can capture a lot of energy from the sun, but we will also have back-up systems on batteries and maybe nuclear energy to keep things going. We are still working on this. The problem with nuclear is that then we have radioactive waste.

VI. Robotics- Robotics will be very important and we are working on a robot that can drill into rocks like the rovers on Mars. But we also need robots to help with other work so that human EVAs can be less, and that will keep the radiation exposure down too.

VII Transportation- On the Moon, we will need a moon buggy for ground explorations, but we want to design a short range space craft that will let us explore regions that a moon buggy cannot get to. We are still working on this idea.

VIII. Station Design is attached.  We are designing a research station that has lofts for a second floor, using as much space as we can for working in and having personal space in.

We think the octagon shape gives us a better way to divide out the space and with it inside a circular module, it gives us more protection and room for storage.

Thanks for any ideas you can give us.

Redd School 6th Grade

Student design main floor

student desing, 2nd floor

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NASA Official: Mark León
Last Updated: May 2005
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