Moon Village

Moon Village
Moon Village
Moon Village

Decades after humans first set foot on the Moon, SOM and the European Space Agency are proposing a bold new initiative to return — this time, on a permanent basis.

Research Facts
Research Facts

A new chapter in space exploration

SOM’s design for a Moon Village advances the European Space Agency’s concept for a lunar settlement built on international and interdisciplinary cooperation. Taking an unconventional approach to design for outer space, SOM and ESA collaborated with faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on a proposal that combines the expertise of the space industry with knowledge from the realms of architecture, urban planning, science, and psychology to create an environment in which humans will be able to survive and thrive on the Moon.

The design emerges not just from engineering constraints, but from an understanding of how humans experience the spaces they inhabit, and from a commitment to creating an environment conducive to comfortable, long-term habitation. At the same time, the Moon Village project explores new strategies for how humans can coexist and utilize resources — providing knowledge that can also be applied to problems here on Earth.

Moon Village
Aerial view of Moon Village plan. © SOM | Slashcube GmbH

Self-sufficient living beyond Earth

SOM’s master plan envisions a Moon Village sited on the rim of Shackleton Crater near the Moon’s South Pole, a region that receives near-continuous daylight throughout the lunar year and is close to essential natural resources. Thanks to this strategic location and the use of emerging technologies, the settlement will be able to become self-sufficient and lay the groundwork for a permanent human presence on the Moon. 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 nearby would be extracted to create breathable air and rocket propellant for transportation and industrial activities.

The location of the proposed settlement also serves another core goal of the Moon Village: enabling critical scientific research. The settlement will provide access to permanently shadowed craters near the South Pole that hold undisturbed material from the early history of the Solar System and have much to teach us about its formation.

The development of the Moon Village would happen in phases: the initial phase would allow crews to live, work, and continue building the settlement. Gradually, additional infrastructure and equipment would arrive to support excavation, manufacturing, and construction. New habitation units can serve functions such as food production and science operations. Eventually, the Moon Village would grow into a thriving community: a hub for science, exploration, even tourism.

Moon Village
© SOM
Moon Village
© SOM

Designing the modular habitat

The Moon Village is based on a set of habitable modules that can be transported to the Moon separately and seamlessly linked on site in a variety of configurations. The individual modules will be inflatable, enabling them to be compressed for transport via rocket and then inflated to their full size on site. This ensures that their occupants will have sufficient space to move freely, conduct their work, and live in comfort.

The innovative structural design of the modules is a hybrid rigid-soft system, made of two key elements: a rigid composite perimeter frame and an inflatable structural shell that integrates a multi-layer assembly with an environmental protection system. Unlike other inflatable designs that center structural and mechanical systems, this solution allows for more flexible interior arrangements to optimize environmental conditions, air distribution and recycling, visibility, workstation flexibility, and movement between spaces.

Moon Village

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