A futuristic 3D-printed space habitat that has been designed to fit inside Elon Musk’s Starship has been unveiled at a school in Switzerland.
It is the world’s tallest and has been set up at the Institut auf dem Rosenberg, a private international boarding school.
The Rosenberg Space Habitat is a three-storey structure that can house a crew of two.
It was built for analogue missions, or field tests that simulate deep-space missions, and will be used as a research centre for students.
As space agencies plan to build human bases on the Moon and Mars, space habitats will play a crucial role in sheltering astronauts and can be used on Earth for research.
This latest one was designed by Saga Architects, the same company that built a compact shelter that housed two of its own architects for 60 days in Greenland — a location used to simulate the harsh lunar conditions.
Bernhard Gademann, director general of Rosenberg, told The National that the habitat would help in the students’ education on space subjects.
“We have designed it as an experimental lab for students to explore and actively shape the future of humanity on our planet and beyond,” Mr Gademann said.
“Our aim is to provide future leaders with early exposure to the question of advanced space exploration, allowing our students to approach and solve these complex questions from a collaborative and holistic point of view.
“We know that this new era of space exploration will have a critical impact on the future of our planet, from developing technologies to address the pressing challenges of sustainability on Earth, to the prospect of mining of precious resources in space.”
Design of the space habitat
The habitat is the world’s tallest 3D-printed polymer structure, measuring seven metres.
The first floor is dedicated to hygiene, lab research and workshop facilities that will include robots.
Work, recreation and entertainment will be carried out on the second floor, while the top floor is designated for privacy and rest.
It can fit inside Elon Musk's Starship
The structure was designed to fit inside SpaceX’s Starship, a rocket Elon Musk is developing to carry humans and cargo to the Moon, Mars and beyond.
It is set to be the world’s most powerful rocket, with its first orbital test flight expected to take place this year.
It is a fully reusable system that includes a booster rocket that will carry the Starship spacecraft to space.
“The choice of using the Starship system as a carrier is due to its advanced delivery capabilities, as well as its ingenious and reusable approach that resonates with the Rosenberg commitment to sustainability,” said Mr Gademann.
“The idea of the Rosenberg Space Habitat was for our team of students to consider all aspects of space travel as closely as possible to the real thing, including the successful transportation and delivery of their habitat to space.
“This degree of realism in prototyping helps students to approach problems from a holistic perspective, allowing them to consider the laws of physics but also to prioritise and combine features of the habitat.”
He said that this process would help pupils to ask important questions about the needs of humans in space.
Experiments in the space habitat
Students and researchers will use the habitat to carry out experiments ranging from testing technology to studying human behaviour while in isolation.
“Experiments conducted from the RSH will explore human well-being, using facilities to test hardware and software tools and applications, and to develop monitoring tools for remote mission control systems,” Mr Gademann said.
“Learners will also explore the importance of sensory stimulation in remote living environments with light, sound and scent installations.
“Valuable experiential learning projects will enhance skills in systems-thinking by working with automated mechatronics and observing independent communication and deeper learning of artificial intelligence.”
Other space habitats
Other companies are also building space habitats, including Spartan Space, a French start-up responsible for an inflatable structure called EuroHab.
This year, a prototype of the unit was put on display at the Abu Dhabi University.
EuroHab, which can house up to four astronauts, would be a secondary shelter to the landers that astronauts will live in while on the surface.
This would allow human beings to explore the surface for longer periods.
During the Apollo era, astronauts could explore for a only limited time before the light support system on their suit failed and they would have to return to their lander.