Introduction: Design a Moon Habitat in Fusion 360
Your home away from Earth has to have a lot more than a place to eat and sleep – it’s the only structure on the Moon! How and where do you even build it? Customize, name, and expand your pioneering settlement, and ask yourself: how will these housing pods answer the needs of your Moon community?
Designing Your Home on the Moon
Your first Moon structure has a lot of roles to fill: a home base not only for sleeping and eating but for research and experiments, too.
The future of space travel lies in the hands of designers and engineers, just like you. In this Instructable we'll explore designing a Moon Habitat using Fusion 360, a professional computer aided design program that has everything you need from parametric design to rending your final design.
Below is the Moon Habitat design we will be making together. Take a moment to interact with the model below and see it from all angles before we get started.
The moon is closer than ever with new advancements in space technology. The next breakthrough in space design could come from a designer such as yourself. Let's get making this Moon Habitat!
Start by downloading Fusion 360, and making a free account.
Fusion 360 works by creating 3D models from 2D sketches on a workplane. Since Fusion 360 is parametric, you can make changes to your sketches at any time and the 3D shapes derived from those sketches automatically updates to he new values. You may find using this feature helpful if your design isn't working the way you want.
We'll start by using the mesh form function in Fusion 360 to make the dome shape of the habitat.
Start a new design and go to create >create form to open the form interface.
From the top toolbar select quadball as the basic shape. Chose the quadball and place it on the floor of the workplane.
Thought this shape may look a little strange with the mesh lines, it's actually a sphere with a smooth surface. I want a faceted look to my habitat, we we'll need to accent the mesh lines on this sphere with modify > crease.
Here is a zoomed in look of my sphere after the crease is applied to make it faceted.
Click finish form from the top toolbar to complete the function.
Step 2: Slice Quadball
Next we'll need to cut the quadball in half to be the dome of the habitat. To do this we will use another shape as the tool to cut the ball in half.
Head to create > box and place a box on the floor workplane. Make the box any size, but when the selection for height comes up instead of pulling upwards pull down to make the height extend below the workplane.
Now to use the new box shape to slice the sphere in half. Use modify > split body to open the menu. Select the sphere as the body to split and the top of the box shape as the splitting body. Make sure extend splitting tool(s) is checked. Click OK to finish the command.
Now that there is a half sphere we need to make it hollow. To do this head to modify > shell to make a shell of the body. Define the thickness of the shell by specifying the wall thickness. I used 5mm.
Click OK to finish the command.
Since it's not easy to see inside the shape, there's a neat way to check to see if the model is hollow per our design intent.
To check, find inspect > section analysis and chose a work plane to slice through. Click on one of the wall workplanes to bisect the body and see inside. Click OK to go back to the model environment when you are done.
Step 3: Habitat Windows
With the dome model done we can make windows for the habitat.
To make windows for the habitat we'll place a sphere from create > sphere. Place the sphere on the floor workplane and size it accordingly with your dome size. In this design that was 30mm diameter.
To cut these spheres in half we'll use the same technique as before (and the same splitting body).
In modify > split body use the sphere as the body to split and the top surface of the box as the tool.
We now have two half spheres, one large faceted one, and a smaller smooth one.
I have turned off the box body using the eyeball icon on the directory tree on the left.
The smaller sphere can be moved into place using move/copy (shortcut key M). Use the arrows to move the shape onto the top of the faceted sphere, then use the rotational arrow to rotate the half sphere to follow the slope of the faceted sphere.
Step 4: Window Openings
With the dome window in place we can make a pattern around the top perimeter of the faceted dome.
To make the pattern head to create > pattern > circular pattern. Select the smooth dome as the body, the central axis of the sphere, and the overall quantity of windows you want for your design.
Next we'll use the pattern of windows to cut out openings. Use modify > combine to open the combine menu.
Use the faceted dome as the target body, and the circular pattern bodies as the tool. Since we want to keep the domes after we use them to cut openings, make sure to select keep tools checked. Click OK to finish the command.
Here is what the model looks like so far. Above, I have hidden a few of the dome windows to show you inside the habitat.
Step 5: Habitat Curb
The habitat shape is looking good. Let's add a curb around the outside to clean up the design and give a little more definition to the design.
Create > torus and place the torus on the floor workplane. It should share the same origin point as the quadball sphere.
Stretch the torus otwards until it covers the edge of the faceted dome. In the popup menu you can specify the thickness of the torus in torus diameter.
Step 6: Habitat Passageway
Now we can turn our attention to the passageway for the habitat.
In create > box place a box on the floor workspace.
Place the box on the floor workplane and make a rectangle that extends out of the habitat. I chose a width of 60mm, you can chose whatever width you like, but remember that number.
While placing the rectangle change the height to match the scale of your faceted dome. Now, extend the other side of the rectangle shape the same amount as your value from before (for me that 60mm).
To round over the top of the box and make it look like a passageway we'll use the fillet command, found in modify > fillet. Select the top two long edges of the rectangle shape and push the edges inwards to create the rounded top.
Step 7: Material Appearance
The Moon Habitat is complete, but needs some appearance changes to look authentic.
We can make appearance changes in modify > appearance to bring up the pop up menu. Here, there is a library of materials that can be dragged onto the bodies. I used glass for the dome windows, and gold for the passageway, the curb and faceted dome were metals; all found in the library.
Step 8: Habitat Modules
Now that the Moon Habitat is designed and looks the part, we can make copies of the Habitat to complete the moon base.
In the directory tree on the left side of the screen we can select the bodies we want to copy and use move/copy (shortcut M) and on the popup menu select create copy. Move the copy to the end of the passageway. Continue making copies of the bodies to create your Moon Habitat base.
Step 9: Render (optional)
To take your design to the next level we can perform a render using Fusion 360 in the render interface. On the far left side of the screen you can see DESIGN, which is the workspace we've been working in. Click that to open a table of other workspaces and find RENDER.
You can render your model with a few preset backgrounds that Fusion 360 comes with, which are high dynamic range images (HDRI), or you can upload your own. Here's a website with free backgrounds (HDRIHaven.com) Most of the stock backgrounds are a little boring, so I found one that looked like the desert for this Moon Habitat.
Find the standard render quality to generate a render of your design (it's free!). You can play with the settings here endlessly to create a perfect render of your Moon Rover.
When you are done, upload your Moon Habitat designed in Fusion 360 in the comments below.
Happy making :)
Step 10: Take Your Design to New Heights!
This tutorial was created as part of the Moon Camp Challenge, a yearly 3D design competition by the European Space Agency and the Airbus Foundation, in partnership with Autodesk.
If you're up for the challenge, head out to the competition platform here, find many other moon related 3D design tutorials and submit them to potentially win amazing prizes!