New space habitat from Airbus looks sci-fi slick

While the space capsules allocated to astronauts look sleek, spacious and comfy in science fiction films, the reality for those living on the International Space Station (ISS) is a little different. If you’ve ever seen photos of the quarters on the ISS, you know they tend to look a little cramped and crowded with, well, stuff. Airbus is aiming to change this up with a new design called the Loop, that could merge the design of Hollywood with the practical needs of those living in space for extended periods of time.

As Airbus envisions it, the Loop is designed on three levels, each with a diameter and height of eight meters (about 26 feet). There’s a habitation level that can accommodate four residents, a science deck, and a centrifuge level that can simulate gravity and give the astronauts a break from weightlessness, which has been repeatedly shown to have a negative effect on the human body. The decks are connected in the center of the structure with what’s known as the “Tunnel,” and that is surrounded by greenhouse modules.

That’s just one possible layout though, says Airbus. The company states it can also tailor each level to suit different mission objectives or deliver the Loop as a kind of shell with the mechanical elements in place, but the rest left unequipped for finishing by the client.

Multiple Loop modules can be combined into a larger structure and they can also be designed to dock with whatever kind of orbital craft that might take the place of the ISS, which is set to be decommissioned in fiery blaze in 2030. For example, the image below shows the Loop docked with Spartan Space’s inflatable moon habitat and another spacecraft.

Computer illustration of spacecraft against black background
An example of the Loop docked with an inflatable lunar habitation made by Spartan Space and a visiting spacecraft


“The Airbus LOOP is designed to make long-term stays in space comfortable and enjoyable for its inhabitants, while supporting efficient and sustainable operations at the same time,” says the company. “It builds on everything that has been learnt over the decades and fully exploits the potential of tomorrow’s technologies in order to best support humanity’s future in Space: In Low-Earth or Lunar Orbit, or on long-term missions to Mars.”

You can get a better look at the project in the video below.

Airbus LOOP – Multi-Purpose Orbital Module for Low-Earth or Lunar Orbit, or long-term Mars missions

Source: Airbus

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