Hassell has announced it will be involved within the undertaking of two new research projects, after the European Space Agency (ESA) confirmed it will fund the projects late last year.

Both projects are relevant to the moon, with the design studio working with Cranfield University on the first project, and the University of Toronto on the second.

The first project will  investigate a scalable lunar habitat framework, driven by a holistic and mission architecture approach. The result will be a master plan that builds upon existing space habitation programmes such as the Lunar Gateway. A major goal of the project is scalability, catering for potential expansion of lunar infrastructure and prolonged human settlement in the next few decades. Hassell will work alongside Cranfield’s Professor of Astrobiology & Space Biotechnology, David Cullen on the project.

The project will explore what kind of space habitat is needed once we go beyond just a skeleton crew and ask the question - how can we create habitation environments that evolve over time to ensure that people can not only survive life on the Moon, but really thrive there?

“The recent landing of the Perseverance rover, the development of the Artemis program and the test flights of Starship at SpaceX show an increased international drive for human space exploration,” says Hassell’s Head of Design Technology & Innovation, Xavier De Kestelier.

“We will be working with international teams and specialists including space anthropologists, space geologists, space engineers, space biotechnologists, and psychologists, to name a few, to really explore what is possible for the next frontier of space exploration and habitation.

“Designing for space exploration is typically very technical as it literally is rocket science, however, we believe that design should take a central role – and that space architecture needs to play a central role. Architects can bring together all the science and engineering into one overall masterplan and vision.”

The second project will see Hassell work in collaboration with University of Toronto architects and roboticists Brady Peters and Maria Yablonina to create a new framework for reconfigurable robotics, going beyond the traditional robotics for space operations. 

The robotic system will be developed in consideration of the necessary material manipulation routines for execution of the identified construction method, as well as constraints of working in the lunar environment, including low gravity, space dust, and second and/or third person operation.

“This robotic modular framework will allow modules to re-configure and adapt in different scenarios, like transportation, drilling, 3D printing, and excavation, creating a robust robotic system. In the event that one of the modules fails, another module can replace it without risking the success of the mission,” says De Kestelier.

“This is a really exciting opportunity as we will be building a fully functioning robotics system and testing its capabilities at ESA.”

Both projects have come to fruition thanks to the Open Space Innovation Platform (OSIP) run through the ESA’s Discovery & Preparation Programme, which lays the groundwork for ESA’s short-to medium-term future activities. For more information regarding the projects, visit hassellstudio.com.