Award Date

December 2017

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Civil and Environmental Engineering and Construction

First Committee Member

Neil Opfer

Second Committee Member

David James

Third Committee Member

Jin Choi

Fourth Committee Member

Alfredo Fernandez-Gonzalez

Number of Pages

121

Abstract

The goals of this research are:

1. To compile a comprehensive list of all the viable known solutions (and early stage potential solutions) to the issues related to constructing permanent, sustainable, and safe structures for human colonies on our moon and Mars,

2. Determine the most effective potential solutions, and

3. Further develop these ideas as to assist in further space endeavors.

This proposed paper will assist space experts in determining the best next steps in the development of deep-space travel and colonization technologies. Preliminary research has identified several key problems associated with establishing space colonies. They are as follows: (1) damaging effects of cosmic radiation, (2) the need to generate and maintain a breathable atmosphere, (3) the time it takes to reach other celestial bodies, and (4) scarcity of conventional construction materials and life-supporting supplies/systems. Each of these four problems has many components that must be solved for humans to successfully colonize our planetary neighbors.

Many promising construction technologies are being developed and used by several large-scale space operation organizations. Some of these solutions are being used to directly solve the problems while others are smaller parts of a larger solution. For example, there have been recent material advancements with respect to 3D printing; sintering technology may also prove to be a viable solution for construction materials. Some current solutions from NASA involve modularized space station units.

The findings summarized in this paper incorporate several cutting-edge and innovative technologies related to constructing an extraterrestrial base for humans. There are several proposed solutions for overcoming the four primary issues, though a few solutions demand the attention of further development as they are more feasible than others. When overcoming cosmic radiation, the most feasible solution is the use of Hydrogenated Boron Nitride Nanotubes which are able to block both primary and secondary radiation particles making it an ideal shielding material. In order to overcome the lack of an atmosphere on the moon or Mars, a technology called MOXIE, developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is able to develop and harvest breathable oxygen with the assistance of microbial life.

Overcoming the issues related to time can be the most difficult as no current technology exists that speeds up time or reduces trip duration between worlds. However, preliminary developments in hibernation technologies may very well be the future of long-term interstellar missions. Finally, when overcoming material-related problems on other planets, the advanced applications of additive manufacturing processes appear to be the solution for building habitats as well as creating tools, spare parts, and inadvertently solving some of the other problems. These solutions and more will be discussed in greater detail throughout the solutions and results portion of this paper.

Keywords

colonization; construction; engineering; habitation; mars; moon

Disciplines

Aerospace Engineering | Engineering | Environmental Engineering

Language

English


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