NASA’s first base on the Moon will most likely be inflatable. The Americans have just announced a competition and are collecting ideas for the lightest and most durable structures possible.
Inflatable structural elements could prove crucial in fulfilling an ambitious plan to build a permanent base on the Moon. The American space agency is looking for inspiration now and has announced a special competition.
NASA wants inflatable bases on the Moon
Every year, NASA organizes an innovation competition called the BIG Idea Challenge (for Breakthrough, Innovative, Game-Changing). The challenge intended for students is intended to push technologies further and change thinking about space missions with new concepts.
This year’s invention theme is “inflatable components for lunar missions.” Groups of students from 5 to even 25 people can take part in the challenge and they will prepare ideas under the supervision of faculty advisors. From all applications, only five to 8 projects will be selected and will compete in the final round.
Although the basis here are modules and habitats in which astronauts can live, NASA is counting on much more. He mentions that the concept of inflatable elements may also refer to, among others, for technical towers, overhead cranes and communication antennas. The so-called soft works, locks or temporary shelters in case of danger and many others.
Why is NASA so obsessed with inflatable bases? Well, inflatable elements are very compact and often several times lighter than traditional ones. Every mission sent into space always struggles with balancing the age-old equation – the weight of the payload and the fuel needed by the rocket. The lunar base will require a huge amount of materials.
Big prizes in the NASA space competition
Previously, teams could submit questions about the competition, and now the organizers are already accepting notes of intent. Teams now have time to finally submit their concepts along with videos. The deadline is February 1, 2024.
After submitting your project, they will be assessed by a panel composed of both NASA specialists and experts from the comic industry. Both the idea and examples of using the invention during possible missions to the Moon will be assessed. The winning teams will receive scholarships to implement their ideas. Prizes will range from $50,000 to even $150,000.