NASA’s lunar space station will have a cramped and suffocating interior
One of the architects involved in the design of NASA’s Gateway space station that revolves around the moon, B Space.com website He says: “The residential parts of this station are so small that the astronauts will not be able to stand inside them.”
NASA and its international partners plan to begin construction of the gateway within the next few years. When the space lab is completed by the end of this decade, it will be roughly one-sixth the size of the International Space Station (ISS). By offering two residential modules, Gateway will force astronauts to limit their personal space.
Rene Vaclavicek“The International Habitat Module will have approximately eight cubic meters of habitable space, and you’ll have to share it with three other people,” said space architect and design researcher at the Lakeifer Space Systems Organization in Austria at the Space Week conference in the Czech Republic in November. In other words, you will have a room measuring 2 x 2 x 2 meters and you will be locked in it. “There will be other rooms, but they will not be larger and not too many.”
Vaclavicek was involved in the design phase of the International Habitat European Module, or I-Hab, which is one of the Gateway’s two habitat elements. Another lunar station module called the Habitat and Supply Base or HALO for short is under construction by Northrop Grumman in the United States.
According to Vaclavicek, when working on the design, the architects had to give in to the practical requirements arising from the nature of the project. Their initial hopes for larger modules similar to those on the International Space Station, which would provide more generous habitable space, had to be abandoned due to the impossibility of launching large pieces to the moon.
“In the first stage, we started with a cylinder with external dimensions similar to what we know from the International Space Station,” Vaclavicek added. These dimensions included a diameter of approximately 4.5 meters and a length of 6 meters. But due to mass limitations, we had to reduce the external dimensions to three meters, and this resulted in an internal cross-section of only 1.2 meters by 1.2 meters. Most of the internal volume is consumed by the module structure. As a result, we basically have only one corridor where if you want to lie down, you have to turn 90 degrees.”
With an interior space of 2.2 by 2.2 meters, the International Space Station is big enough that astronauts can even do gymnastics in it. The near-Earth orbit settlement offers a luxurious experience compared to what will await lunar explorers at Gateway. According to Vaclavicek, the I-HAB module is basically just a cylinder with one vent at each end and two vents on the sides and a narrow corridor. If someone tries to pass you, you will be in trouble. You have to stop whatever you are doing at the moment to let that person pass you by.