Designing a tiny home to orbit the Moon


– If you wanna live in
space for months at a time, you’re gonna need a good
house, and it’s not going to be glamorous living
either. Imagine living in a one room tin can with
three to four other people, and that tin can is keeping you alive. (upbeat synth music) – [Loren] NASA wants to send
humans back into deep space, but the last time people
went beyond low earth orbit, they stayed for less
than two weeks per trip. This time around, NASA wants
to send astronauts to live in deep space, orbiting
the moon and then possibly onto Mars for months
at a time, like they do on the International Space Station. But what does a deep
space habitat look like? NASA has partnered with six
different private companies as part of their nextSTEP
program to figure that out. Each company is researching
and building deep space habitats, all with unique
designs to see which modules will work best. And these
habitats could be used as part of a new space station
that NASA wants to build near the moon called Gateway. I went to one of these
companies, Lockheed Martin, to check out a mock-up of the deep space habitat that they’re working on. – So here we are, in the
prototype habitat that you guys are building for the nextSTEP program. So, tell me about it. What informs its shape and size and all that stuff? – We put together this
prototype to get a better feel for what it would be like to live and work in a space station at the moon. So, it’s round because the
launch vehicles are round, right? – [Loren] Right.
– So we need to fit inside the payload fairing for launch. But we’ve also thought
about what it would be like to live here, so you need
all the standard things: food, water, shelter. You would have all your personal items, your clothes, your toothbrush… all
those normal things. – [Loren] NASA hopes this
will serve as a new outpost for astronauts, allowing
them to conduct studies in the deep space
environment around the moon, and to travel to and
from the lunar surface. But one challenge of sending
things to deep space, is space. Getting the
habitat of this size far away from earth in one piece
requires a lot of fuel. And the larger the habitat,
the more fuel it will require. That’s why Lockheed is
trying to do more with less. – Standing in here right
now, it’s not that big of a space, but you envision people living and doing work here, so,
how would they utilize all of this limited space,
if you will? (laughs) – Right, can you imagine
four people in this space? – I have a problem with my tiny apartment, and my dog, so I don’t know. (laughs) – That’s exactly what
this is. It’s one room, but it’s four bedroom, one bathroom. (laughing in unison)
But yeah, we’ll have a science workstation,
where the crew can do their science experiments, get
information from the vehicle, look at health and status.
We have a treadmill, and exercise equipment…
– Right, on the ceiling! (laughing) – But in space, there is no ceiling. – Right, exactly.
– Whatever way you are, is the right way up.
(Loren laughs) So we can use all four
walls, we need to to get very effective use of this limited space. – [Loren] Of course, it’s tough
to get the full experience of living in this habitat here on earth. This habitat is just a
mock-up. Lockheed is currently building its first working
nextSTEP prototype in Florida. So, the company is using
virtual and augmented reality to give engineers a better
understanding of how the finished product will look and feel. – So you go ahead and put that on. – Alright, I’m ready.
I’m ready to go to space. (upbeat synth music) – Alright. (yells in alarm) (laughs) I hope I didn’t break anything. – No. Now you can go
ahead and grab the walls and pull yourself through.
– [Loren] Here I am, home sweet home.
– And if you find your way into the airlock, you
can go ahead and go outside. – [Loren] Oh, let’s do that!
How am I gonna get over there? (whooshing sound)
(yelling in excitement) Oh no! It’s clear that I’m
just a mess in zero gravity. (dark synth music) – So, we’ve been using a
lot of VR and AR technology to play around with the nextSTEP habitat. What is so great about
these different types of technology that helps you with design and new modifications and whatnot? – Well, there’s a few things
that’s really great about it. The first is affordability,
it lets you perform a lot of reconfigurations while
keeping things cheap. You saw with the AR
goggles that you had on, you were able to see
the different components that are gonna be in the
space craft in a habitat. So, it allows us to move
them around and reconfigure and see the spacing of
everything, ’cause you don’t wanna put your treadmill right
next to your workstation and have someone running and
sweating right above you, so… – And if you go ahead and build it without knowing those problems, you
kind of have a big cost problem on your hands. (laughs)
– Right, or if you actually do build out those big size components, it’s expensive and heavy
and you have to actually move ’em around, so AR
really helps a lot with that. And VR really helps a lot with
training, too, ’cause you saw with the simulation, you kinda
got a little bit of a sense of what it’s like to be
in the spacecraft, and so on the ground, we can train
astronauts or the crew just how to move around. – Maneuvering in space
isn’t as easy as people might think. You turn
your hand a certain way, and it doesn’t… your whole body even moves with you. (laughs)
– Yeah, Newton’s third law, it’s pretty crazy. (energetic synth music) – [Loren] Right now, this
program is just for engineers, not for astronauts. However,
astronauts going to the ISS actually do lots of VR
training to prepare for space. – This one?
– You got it! – There we go. Grab the block.
– Wait, I did? – Yep!
– If this station does go to the moon, VR
trainings will be important before heading there, too. – What are the things
that you think of when you go out to design a habitat? What are the essentials that you need? – Well, we think about
what is a day in the life of an astronaut gonna look
like? They’re gonna wake up, they’re gonna eat breakfast, they’re going to perform science. We
wanna know what it takes to keep them alive, as
well as what work they’re gonna do and science they’re gonna perform while they’re there. So,
we need to accommodate all those aspects. Keeping them healthy, and keeping them productive.
– Now, you mentioned a one bathroom. Where is the
bathroom gonna be? (laughs) – It’s actually on Orion,
right through this hatch is where the crew would
come to the habitat in Orion, and the bathroom is there. – At least you have some privacy. (laughing) – [Loren] Orion is much
more than just a bathroom. It’s a crew capsule that Lockheed
Martin is also working on to transport people from
earth to deep space. And once Orion reaches this
habitat, it’ll have to dock. – Explain this setup for me. – Sure, we’re sitting in
the Orion crew simulator, so this is cockpit,
this is where the pilot and the commander would sit as they fly Orion to dock to the gateway. – So, we’ve been traveling for
months and months and months, and now we’re finally
here and ready to dock. I’ve been waiting for this day my whole astronaut life, basically.
(Kerry laughs) – So, if you pull out on
that, that’ll slow you down. Or you can push in, and fire
the thruster to speed us up. – [Loren] Docking turned
out to be pretty tense. Just one small movement
can send the capsule veering off in the wrong direction. – Okay, so I’m veering off to the right, so I think I wanna go to the left. Almost there, almost there!
– So close! – Oh, oh here we go. – You’re coming in right on the target. (Loren yells)
– Perfect docking! Oh my gosh.
– That is beautiful! Okay, just a little bit
off, but man, nailed it. (laughs)
– Successful. – [Loren] Of course, it could
be awhile before this happens. Lockheed and the other
nextSTEP finalists will need to finish building and
testing out their habitats before this deep space
outpost becomes a reality. So, it might not be the most spacious, but like all real estate,
it’s about location. – If you’re interested
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