Developing an Integrated Logistics Infrastructure for Lunar Surface Habitats

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2023 International Conference on Environmental Systems

The Artemis program is building up to a return to human lunar exploration, with the goal of extended and eventually permanent human lunar surface habitation. While this effort builds on almost 25 years of permanent human habitation at the International Space Station, logistics resupply will be uniquely different on the lunar surface, due to both substantial gravity and the greater challenge of logistics transport. While ISS resupply is accomplished with 6-8 dedicated cargo missions per year for a cumulative annual cargo mass of approximately twenty metric tons, there is an open question of the optimum number and size of resupply missions for a lunar surface base. Logistics for human habitats will remain primarily focused on the use of pressurized modules to protect the resupply items from vacuum and temperature extremes, as well as to simplify the process of bringing the logistics into the habitat for use.

This paper focuses on technologies for establishing a robust logistics infrastructure for upcoming surface habitats and bases. Following a review of potential lander vehicles with their associated payload mass and volume limits, it identifies a set of candidate scales for incoming logistics elements, from full habitat modules to dedicated ISS-type logistics modules to small multi-unit logistics elements capable of being manipulated by EVA astronauts or robotic systems. Tasks for the logistics system will include offloading landing vehicles, which may include elevated payload decks, transporting the logistics elements up to a kilometer from the landing site to the base, berthing the pressurized module to the habitat, and systems for offloading cargo from the module's interior and transporting it internally to designated storage sites. Developmental testing includes the use of underwater simulation of human and robotic logistics tasks ballasted to replicate lunar gravity conditions.

David Akin, University Of Maryland, USA
ICES502: Space Architecture
The 52nd International Conference on Environmental Systems was held in Calgary, Canada, on 16 July 2023 through 20 July 2023.
human lunar exploration, logistics systems, habitat design