Engineers at the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), along with engineering professors at Auburn University, Alabama, have assembled a prototype concept that NASA astronauts could use to construct a garage on the moon – giving them a safe place to park their lunar rovers.
The shelter, made from bulletproof bags filled with lunar regolith, would protect the rovers from meteoroid strikes, radiation damage and extreme temperature swings.
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The bags, made from a woven polymer such as Kevlar, would be stacked like sand bags into an arch, which would protect the rovers and other vital equipment when astronauts return to the moon at the end of the next decade, a return that will see the construction of a moon base.
A prototype shelter/garage was assembled in Building 4493, the Space Systems Integration and Test Facility at MSFC.
‘The shelter seemed to stand up to the testing very well,’ said Carole McLemore, project manager for Marshall’s In Situ Fabrication and Repair/In Situ Resource Utilization Office, to the MSFC Star. ‘We are pleased to work with Auburn University on such an exciting endeavor.’
Dr. Roy Broughton and Dr. David Beale of Auburn University and Gweneth Smithers, an engineer in Marshall’s Nonmetals Engineering Branch of the Engineering Directorate, analyzed a number of polymer materials such as Vectran, Nextel and Goretex for their structural properties and strength under extreme temperatures.
‘Strips of the polymer samples were exposed to both ultraviolet and electron radiation in the Marshall Combined Environmental Effects Facility – a lab that uses a solar simulator to test the samples,’ noted the MSFC information.
‘Marshall’s Micro Light Gas Gun was used in the tests to simulate meteoroid impact on fully loaded bags of regolith. The tool shoots 1-millimeter-diameter particles at speeds around 7 kilometers per second, or 15,600 mph.’
A full-scale prototype arch – also assembled in Building 4493 – was built for ‘proof-of concept’ evaluations. Kevlar fabric was sewn into the bags, which were then filled with vermiculite – a type of potting soil that holds water very well and is neither acidic nor alkaline – to simulate a variety of soil sizes, similar to soil on the moon.
Tests will continue, as the template for setting up a permanent home on the moon continues to take shape, ahead of the first major Mars plans, which are expected later this year.
In other Constellation news, Kennedy Space Center’s MPPF (Multi Payload Processing Facility) has been selected as the location to perform Orion fueling operations, after the replacement vehicle for the shuttle is assembled and checked out at KSC’s Operations and Checkout (O&C) building.
The MPPF was designed and built to handle hypergolic propellants, and is already configured to handle MMH (monomethyl hydrazine). The only addition to the facility will be the handling of N2O4 (nitrogen tetroxide).
Selection of L2 Resources For Ares I, V and Constellation: Updates Constellation launch schedule through to Orion 15. Hi Res Orion 606 images (vast). Hi res Launch Abort Images. Hi res Pad Abort images. Orion Seat test photos. New ML Graphic and info. New Ares V graphic and baseline data. Large collection of hi res Orion paracute drop tests. SIX Part Series of Ares I Upper Stage Graphical Overviews. DAC-1C DDD Vast Slides on Vehicle Design. ATK First Stage Presentation. 39B Lightning Towers Slides. DAC-1C Departure points to DAC-2 Upper Stage Graphcs (Many Changes).
Orion/CEV Display Layout Presentation (40 pages) – Feb 5. ATK figures on the 5-Seg Booster weight for CLV – Feb 2. Weather Shield (Rain Shield) for Orion on the pad – Feb 1. New Super hi-res images of Ares I – Feb 1. ATK Cutaway graphics of Ares I – perspective and axonometric – Feb 1. Ares I/Orion CxP 72031 Requirements Validation Matrix Information. CEV Paracute Assembly System (CPAS) Presentation.
Orion Launch Abort System (LAS) overview presentation – Jan 16. Major changes to Ares I Upper Stage – expansive details and data. Ares I/Orion CxP 72031 Requirements Validation Matrix Information. Saturn Twang Test Video for use with Ares I-1R. CLV Umbilical Trade Matrix XLS.
Vehicle interfaces for the DAC 1C version of Orion Ares – Jan 3. Ares I-1R Test Flight Plan (full outline) Presentation. Ares I-1 timeline and modification expanded info. Ares I troubleshooting latest. Ares I Reference Trajectory. Boeing’s STS to Ares – Lessons Learned Presentation. Latest Ares I and Ares V baseline Configuration image and data. CLV DAC-1C (Changes to CLV Upper Stage).
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90 Minute Video of Constellation all hands meeting. CLV TIM Meeting Information. CLV/CaLV Infrastructure, Timelines and Information. Escape System Trade Study Presentation.
CEV-CLV Design Analysis Cycle Review (DAC-2) Presentation. Constellation SRR updates. CLV Stick – Troubleshooting/Alternatives/Updates. New CEV Images (include abort mode). Flight Design and Dynamics Division CEV update. CLV Mono-propellant RCS system. CEV pressurisation system review. CLV/CEV Configuration Images. The 2×3 Seg SRB Crew Launch Vehicle Option Presentation…plus more.