Intermediate Martian Atmospheric Demonstrator
The initial manned explorations of other worlds will likely be done in relatively small spacecraft capable of carrying small crews. Beyond the initial expeditions, though, it seems reasonable to assume that permanent outposts will be established. These outposts will need to be basically self-sufficient and will, therefore, need to find most of their resources at or near their locations. Construction and maintenance of large structures and heavy machinery will also need to take place locally, since launching them from Earth is somewhat impractical and very expensive.
However, large-scale construction by humans in an low pressure extra-terrestrial environment like Mars is hampered by such numerous factors as low temperatures (~220 K) and (~ .006 Bar) atmospheric pressures Ideally, a large and enclosed environment with air and a moderate temperature and pressure would be available for use as a construction hangar. Such a hangar presents a few engineering challenges that can be circumvented. One challenge is the necessity of preventing significant air leaks. The problem, e.g., is especially relevant when large objects must be removed from the enclosure via a large opening. Filling it with Earth standard air is also recourse intensive. On Mars, these challenges can be overcome by compressing Martian atmosphere and introducing it directly into the enclosure. One of the advantages of the mostly carbon dioxide atmospheres is expendable, thus the hangar door would not need airlock. Breathing by astronauts would be facilitated by the use of breathing masks. Unlike a spacesuit, the clothing worn by astronauts in such an enclosure would not need to act as a pressure vessel, thus allowing the astronauts considerably increased levels of flexibility and mobility. It may even be possible for the astronauts to work without gloves.
We are developing a small prototype of such a structure. The prototype enclosure will accurately represent materials, structures, anchoring and a pressurization system with feed back that could be used in a full-scale intermediate environment. We will discuss the big issues including; 1.Architecture and structural issues including the floor. 2. Leaks and energy efficiencies 3human factors, 4) in situ resources 5) durability issues.
Donovan Chipman and DD Allred