It's 50 years since humans last set foot on the moon's surface. Now, there is an initiative to take us back, and the idea is to make the move permanent. Concept images for an inflatable “Moon Village” have been released by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) – the engineer, and designer of the project’s master plan – in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

The concept images above are for the first full-time human habitat on the lunar surface. According to the design partner, Colin Koop, “The project presents a completely new challenge for the field of architectural design.” As part of the challenge of sustaining human life in an otherwise uninhabitable setting, the designers and engineers need to consider factors such as radiation protection and how to provide breathable air.

One of the standout features of the concept design is its individual pressurized modules. The inflatable structures were designed to provide resistance to extreme temperatures, projectiles, regolith dust, and solar radiation.

The plan is for the settlement to be situated on the Shackleton Crater near the Moon's south pole. Here, the structure would get almost constant sunlight through the lunar year. This would allow the village to harness sunlight for energy, and the generation of food and other life-sustaining elements.

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