Astronauts have walked on it, roamed it and explored it. Now, they might be able to camp and hang out on it for days at a time to make their trips all the more worthwhile.
Aerospace engineers at MIT have designed a packable, inflatable habitats tent that will allow astronauts to have extended stays on the moon. The inflatable pod can fit two adults and includes a reflective shield to keep the sun's rays off explorers as well as life support systems, supplying oxygen, food, water and temperature control via a rover. Although the inflatable habitats tent concept is still in early stages, it has everything one needs to survive on the moon.
Samuel Schreiner, an MIT engineer, tells Popular Science that when the inflatable tent is packed, it takes up about half the space as your average refrigerator.
Similar to how campers use metal poles to set up their tents on campgrounds, these inflatable habitats tents would be set up with tubes — inflatable, pressurized tubes made of silcone-based materials. Astronauts enter the pods and shut the airlock. Life support systems on the rover, supplying vitals such as oxygen, food and water would connect to the pod via umbilical cables.
Now, all these aerospace engineers at MIT need is to keep development going strong and cross their fingers that NASA brings back its deep-space Constellation program, which was canceled during President Obama's first term.
However, Schreiner believes it will be back ... and when it does return, that MIT's tent concepts would be of full use.
"Humanity will, at some point, return to the moon," he told Popular Science. "At some point in the future, the moon will present an intriguing exploration destination, both for its proximity to the Earth and also for the interesting science and exploration that has yet to be done. The moon is by no means a closed case, and there remain many compelling reasons for humanity to return."
That's one small step for man, one giant camping trip for mankind.