Interstellar shoots for the moon, mars, and more

 

Interstellar Lab is on a mission to aid life on Earth, Mars, and beyond through sustainable architecture. Single pods as well as large, modular village-like communities are set to land on our planet and in space in the near future. These self-sustainable creations are environmentally-controlled, closed-loop modules, functioning to aid specific roles in facilitating life in extreme environments, and offering the possibilities to expand in number.

 

The innovative designs of Interstellar Lab might seem like a moonshot, but the projects are materializing on Earth with the help of Dassault Systemes. Jim Rhoné, Chief Product Officer at Interstellar Lab, talks to designboom to delve into the forward-thinking company and its extraterrestrial work.

interstellar lab designs self-sustainable space pods with dassault systemes
All images courtesy of Interstellar Lab

 

 

designing for earth first, then space

 

The sustainable systems by Interstellar Lab aim to better life on Earth, preserve its biodiversity, and then prepare humanity to settle on other planets. The work is a fusion of architecture, agronomy, engineering, product design, and science. And, as such, it demands a highly skilled team. Spread out between Paris and Los Angeles, the French-American startup has harnessed talents and expertise from NASA, Space X, Airbus, and Dassault Systemes, including scientists, engineers, and architects like Jim Rhoné.

interstellar lab designs self-sustainable space pods with dassault systemes

 

 

interstellar lab’s ebios concept

 

Interstellar Lab launched the mini extraterrestrial cities, called Experimental Bio-Regenerative stations (Ebios), as their first project in 2018. The concept houses all infrastructure and resources needed to support as well as sustain human life on another planet. These could be composed of independent modules or combined for a complete self-sufficient unit. The stations produce and recycle almost everything needed, from water to air and food.

 

Interstellar Lab’s founding mission was to create a system of stations that can anticipate the life of astronauts in space. The original idea combined many different topics: infrastructure, habitats, waste management facilities, food supply, plant science, and more. It is not solely about space but also future management, space exploration, and transport,’ explains Jim Rhoné, Chief Product Officer at Interstellar Lab.

 

 

We challenged ourselves to focus on one important topic from Ebios that had not been tackled by other actors – the growing of crops to sustain life for humanity. We set about designing a product to grow crops very efficiently, comparing the yield with energy use,’ adds Jim.

 

This product is the self-sustaining food production system called BioPod. Built to withstand extreme climates, the modules aspire to land on other planets but, importantly, can be highly beneficial across our globe too. The architecture reduces land and water needed to produce food on Earth by more than 99%. Specific environmental conditions are realized to grow a diverse array of crops and plants. Predictive maintenance is then used to achieve to achieve high-precision agriculture.

interstellar lab designs self-sustainable space pods with dassault systemes

 

 

interstellar lab enhances dassault systemes for Biopod

 

Dassault Systemes was brought in to support the growth and scalability of the Interstellar Lab BioPod. The 3DEXPERIENCE platform on the cloud offers a one-stop platform for a whole project, from ideation and design to development, validation, and manufacturing. Team members can access and collaborate remotely, from Paris, Los Angeles or wherever an internet connected is received.

 

I already understood the benefits and possibilities of Dassault Systemes from previous jobs. When I joined Interstellar Lab, I ensured the BioPod was designed entirely using the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, from the early ideation to manufacturing stage. It is a secure and cohesive platform for all processes, it increases productivity, and enables exchange of expertise and collaborations with other participants, suppliers and stakeholders. Changes to the design can be made based on this feedback, synchronized and chronological on the platform,’ mentions the Chief Product Officer.

 

 

The structures of the BioPods are fabricated using a combination of composites for the solid base and soft, resistant polymers for the inflatable membrane. The form for this tent-like structure was incredibly complex and affirmed form follows function. The possibilities of condensation needed to be minimized inside, as the environment of the pods are closely controlled to maximize crop production. On top of this performance need, manufacturing restraints were also key. Dassault Systemes’ built-in Generative Design tool produced shapes to fit both performance and manufacturing parameters.

 

We used Generative Design as the main tool when starting the BioPod project. It enabled us to make a lot of iterations on the actual shape, dimensions, and volume. We knew we needed a solid base and double curvature for the actual structure, but we realized the geometry would be changed depending on feedback from manufacturers. This meant we started talking to stakeholders earlier in the process, understanding their needs, and enhancing their expertise. We pushed these details through generative design and was then able to lock in the geometry,’ says Jim.

interstellar lab designs self-sustainable space pods with dassault systemes

 

 

simulating pod performance using simulia

 

The 3DEXPERIENCE platform enables the use of additional tools to further projects and, most importantly, validate designs. SIMULIA is an application that simulates real-life situations accurately. Virtual twin dates, tracks, and control changes to the design as it evolves and improves. It gathers data for everything from operations and maintenance through to food production and environment. All the data is assimilated for an accurate 3D representation that is crucial as Interstellar Lab bring the BioPods to large-scale deployment.

 

Simulation is key, especially at an early stage of design and then as we move to production and deployment. SIMULIA is used for simulation so that we can aid the design, go back and forth between design and simulation, and make the product more accurate using feedback. We are trialling BioPods in different environments on Earth, firstly destined for rainforests. The data recovered from these tests will then inform the parameters we use to simulate. We will then be able to integrate other parameters so that the product can perform as solutions in different environments, such as pollution, pressure, temperature, and humidity,’ continues the architect.

 

 

As Interstellar Lab finalizes its design for production, Dassault Systemes is vital to aiding creatives in realizing its design for manufacturing and assembly. The first BioPod is nearly ready for assembly and testing on Earth. As data is gathered and simulations made even more accurate, deployment can be easily expanded on the platform. The self-sustainable space pods do not feel like a moonshot any more; it is soon to be reality.

 

We are manufacturing the final sections of the first BioPod for Earth. The aim is for these systems to be assembled very quickly, in two days for example. We need the whole process for manufacturing and assembly to be fully integrated,’ concludes Jim Rhoné, Chief Product Officer at Interstellar Lab.

 

 

company: Interstellar Lab

case studies: Experimental Bio-Regenerative stations (Ebios) and BioPod

developers: Dassault Systemes

platform: 3DEXPERIENCE platform on the cloud