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An igloo on Mars?

This igloo-like design is one of the concepts being considered at NASA for the first habitats on Mars.

Normally I don’t waste time promoting these NASA concept studies, since the odds of them getting built is less than zero. However, this idea is intriguing, and probably contains within it many concepts that will be used by the first Martian habitats.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


  • PeterF

    I wouldn’t describe it as an igloo but more of a bubble. An inflatable hab. Perhaps the tag not to be removed under penalty of law except by the consumer reads “Bigelow”?

  • pzatchok

    Bigelow habs have more radiation protection than the ISS. More than enough to use their technology as an inflatable habitat for the first year.

    After the first living quarters are occupied, thinner and thus lighter cheaper inflatables could be used and then covered by rigolith.

    We cannot just drop a bunch of inflatables onto Mars and blow them up. Maybe the first small temporary one but after that the area needs prepped. It needs cleared of rocks and leveled off.
    Robots cannot be trusted with that.

    Atmospheric water extractors should be the first things dropped onto the surface. Solar powered and automated, extracting water from the air and filling tough bladders.
    We can drop as many as needed and spend years collecting water.
    Eventually the excess power from the panels could be used to help power the living quarters.

    With the first people we should also send along the first earth mover/back hoe. Use that to prep the rest of the site. It could also be used to more the heavy habitats around before they are inflated. Then used to bury the new habitats.

  • D.K. Williams

    I would search for a cave. Failing that, I would build a house largely of stone and inflate a bubble home inside that.

  • ken anthony

    Typical that engineers are enthralled with the technology and miss the big picture.

    Would we look at building homes on earth the same way? No. We allow property owners to decide for themselves what kind of home to build. It’s not like there is any lack of concepts.

    The focus MUST be on ownership. What good is a great design of anything if nobody gets to own it? When you look at raw land on mars the first thing you should see is real estate.

  • Edward

    ken anthony wrote: “The focus MUST be on ownership.

    Typical that politicians already signed a treaty guaranteeing that the land on Mars cannot be owned by anyone. Only the structures and equipment placed upon that land may be considered property.

    Fortunately, once Martians figure out that they can ignore the previously signed treaties, as in Mars belongs to Martians and not to Earthlings, then they can start to talk real estate. If they start talking about private property real estate before they get there, there may be governmental mandated agreements that anyone going to Mars will never claim any real estate for themselves, otherwise they will not be allowed to fly to Mars.

    Remember, politicians, who think they are better than the rest of us, are not our friends; they want all the power and control for themselves.

  • pzatchok

    He who occupies the land owns it.
    Unless someone sends out troops to enforce some long forgotten treaty.
    And if one country sends troops you can bet another will also just to take the other side.

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