Europlanet Science Congress 2021
Virtual meeting
13 – 24 September 2021
Europlanet Science Congress 2021
Virtual meeting
13 September – 24 September 2021
EPSC Abstracts
Vol. 15, EPSC2021-835, 2021
European Planetary Science Congress 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Construction of the Inflatable Habitat ECHO for Inside a Lunar-analogue Lava-tube

Charlotte Pouwels1, Sue Fairburn2, Bailee van Rikxoort2, Marie-Pierre Alary2, Marc Heemskerk1,3, Sabrina Kerber1, Bernard Foing1,5, and the CHILL-ICE ECHO Habitat Team*
Charlotte Pouwels et al.
  • 1EuroMoonMars / ILEWG (
  • 2Wilson School of Design, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, 8771 Lansdowne Road, Richmond B.C., Canada
  • 3Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Boelelaan 1081, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • 5ESA / ESTEC, Keplerlaan 1, Noordwijk, The Netherlands
  • *A full list of authors appears at the end of the abstract

Introduction; In the summer of 2021, the analogue astronaut mission “CHILL-ICE” shall be carried out inside the Stefanshellir cave system. This short term 2-night mission has the objective to put up an inflatable habitat inside a Lunar-analogue Lava tube within 8 hours. This 8h requirement simulates the lifespan of the oxygen tank that astronauts would have, during an emergency Extra Vehicular Activity (EVA).

Requirements; For the CHILL-ICE mission, a habitat prototype has been developed by the Wilson School of Design, Kwantlen Polytechnic University Canada. The habitat, named acronymically ECHO (Extreme Cave Habitat One) needed to fulfil the following mission requirements:

  • 8H put up/ Take down
    • Essential for the astronauts to stay alive.
  • Portable for 2 persons to carry inside the selected lava tube
    • 38° slope / 11 m and max. weight 50 kg
  • Free standing
    • Fidelity for an analogous mission and no reliance on ground conditions.
  • Habitable for 3 persons [2]
    • Min. 8 m3 but preferred >21 m3
  • Re-deployable
    • Needs to be used for recurring phases of analogue missions.
  • Airlock
    • Fidelity in simulating the ingress/egress process and the design of the structure.
  • Water-resistant
    • Interior needs to stay dry. The caves on Earth can be subject to high humidity and cave rain.
  • Dimensional restrictions due to cave location.
    • 7.5 x 4.6 x 4.15 m

(Figure 1: Habitat material properties hierarchy.)

For this analogue mission and the construction of this habitat, the influence of gravity and space vacuum has been neglected. For the design of the habitat, all spaces shall require multiple functions to provide enough space for a sleeping, bathroom, working and experiment station. Furthermore, as the Stefanshellir cave system consist of a rocky basaltic terrain, the floor of the habitat needs to be able to withstand possible ruptures. The material priority hierarchy can be found in figure 1.

All materials selected for the habitat have been subjected, prior of usage, to testing to comply with the material hierarchy as mentioned in figure 1.

ECHO Habitat; The final result of the habitat can be seen in figure 2 and figure 3. The technical overview of the habitat features is given in table 1.

(Figure 2: The habitat ECHO (Extreme Cave Habitat One) in a deployed state with airlock.)