New milestone for the Gateway: life inside Lunar I-Hab – European Space Agency

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Science & Exploration

31/05/2024
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Lunar I-Hab, the next European habitat in lunar orbit as part of the Gateway, has recently undergone critical tests to explore and improve human living conditions inside the space module.

ESA and NASA astronauts collaborated with Thales Alenia Space to evaluate the ergonomics and habitability of the Lunar I-Hab module in Turin, Italy. This milestone, known as Human-in-the-Loop (HITL), is a crucial step in the design and development of the module. The cooperation is part of the Artemis programme, of which ESA is a key partner.

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Rosemary Coogan takes a look at Lunar I-Hab

The HITL tests involve participants who simulate operational activities using a full-scale mock-up of the pressurised module cabin. The main goal is to assess accessibility and manoeuvrability within the module.

Feedback from the astronauts will help Thales Alenia Space engineers to make informed design choices, identify potential issues and improvements, and evaluate the efficiency, safety, effectiveness, and acceptability of the design in line with system requirements.

Stanley G. Love and the Lunar I-Hab

For these important tests, the space agencies involved ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano and NASA’s Stanley G. Love. Their extensive experience from previous missions on the International Space Station brought invaluable feedback, helping Thales Alenia Space programme representatives understand how to organise the habitat to support life and operations inside Lunar I-Hab.

A diverse team at Thales Alenia Space, including system engineers, physical configuration and human factor engineers, quality control inspectors, operation and maintenance engineers, health and safety operators, and assembly integration and testing engineers, has been working closely with ESA and NASA representatives.

Rosemary and Marcus meet the Lunar I-Hab

The presence of two members of ESA’s new generation of astronauts, Rosemary Coogan and Marcus Wandt, strengthened the human-centric approach to the tests.

The Lunar I-Hab mock-up will continue to support the design phase until the System Critical Design Review, another milestone that consolidates the design and marks the beginning of the assembly, integration, and verification phases. After this point, the mock-up will be upgraded to increase its fidelity, incorporating interfaces to simulate more complex operations.

With this new milestone achieved, the next step of human exploration and the European contribution to the return of humankind to the Moon is well underway.

Gateway: Lunar I-Hab quick facts

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