Plans for a Permanent Moon Colony from SOM

After decades of sitting quietly in space, the Moon is suddenly the talk of the town again, with NASA, private industry, even entrepreneurs and artists talking about visiting it in the near future.

Ideas and aspirations are fine, but plans and designs for those visits are more impressive, especially when award-winning architecture firms get involved.

Skidmore Owings, and Merrill (SOM), one of the biggest and most influential architecture firms in the world has released plans for the European Space Agency, along with engineering university MIT. Their Moon Village consists of inflatable habitats and a system of energy capture and production to create a permanent home on the lunar surface.

Five decades after humans first set foot on the Moon, a new initiative is underway to bring us back—and this time, the aspiration is to settle there on a permanent basis. Today, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM), in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has released a design for the “Moon Village,” a concept presented by ESA Director General Jan Woerner for the first full-time human habitat on the lunar surface. With ESA and MIT, SOM is master planning, designing, and engineering the settlement. -SOM

This design, along with NASA’s commitment to another moon mission, makes us excited for a colony that would permanently call the moon home. And aside from being just a fun headline, the SOM design represents some serious engineering and planning efforts, with some of the brightest minds in the world at MIT at work.

The master plan envisions a Moon Village sited on the rim of Shackleton Crater in the south polar region, on the “peaks of eternal light” which receive near-continuous daylight throughout the lunar year. This strategic location supports the goal of a self-sufficient settlement. Sunlight can be harnessed for energy, while in-situ resources can be used to generate consumables and other life-sustaining elements. Frozen volatiles and water stored in the permanently shadowed craters near the South Pole would be extracted to create breathable air and rocket propellant for transportation and industrial activities. The settlement would be clustered and expanded along strategic sites, rich in resources and scientific interest.