The creation of safe and comfortable habitations is one of humankind’s oldest activities. Millennia of experimentation and planning have brought the creation and maintenance of habitats on Earth to a high degree of sophistication. However, humankind is now faced with new challenges as we begin to move beyond the Earth’s relatively benign surface and out into Space.

Our Goal:

Develop the expertise needed to address the grand challenge of permanent human settlements outside Earth.

Any human settlement in space will require excavation, construction and transportation of large masses of material from one place to another. Accomplishing these tasks in the Space environment, on nearly or completely airless bodies with less gravity than the Earth such as the Moon, Mars or asteroids is not beyond our current capabilities, but will require extensive planning combined with both theoretical and experimental studies long before we even begin to construct in situ pilot projects.

NASA Robonaut


Three activities are proposed which can be broadly described as: Building Knowledge, Settlement Concepts, and Enabling Partnerships.

Astronaut and moon rover next to crater on the moon

Building Knowledge

This activity includes all tasks towards identifying the needs for human habitation on a planet or moon, with particular emphasis on the Moon and Mars; identifying and quantifying risks, and in particular those not found on Earth; identifying and quantifying sources of energy and other resources to sustain life; and developing research questions.

Surface of Mars

Settlement Concepts

This activity involves the conceptual design and evaluation of a permanent human settlement on the Moon. The objective is to obtain a preliminary proof of concept and feasibility design for a permanent habitat. A rigorous evaluation procedure will be established to assess concepts in terms of the hazards and requirements.

RETH Town Hall Meeting

Building Partnerships

Success cannot be achieved in such a complex initiative without collaboration among all stakeholders. Professionals will be engaged, from both inside and outside Purdue, as well as the agencies that will be implementing the findings from the research. We will involve agencies to include NASA, the European Space Agency, as well as other space agencies. Success requires the engagement of professionals, industry, and the broader academic community.