Challenge: Designing and building a prototype moon base

This challenge is designed to help students understand astronomy concepts included in the show for the purpose of building a prototype of a moon base.


Humans have been planning to inhabit the Moon for a long time. Finally, NASA will be partnering with commercial and international organisations to make this happen. NASA plans to send people to the Moon starting in 2023, and land astronauts on the surface around the late 2020's. The first part of the mission will entail building an orbiting lunar station which will serve as a home base for missions to the Moon’s surface called “The Gateway”. This means that people alive today will have the incredible opportunity to witness a Moon landing!

A moment when everyone, everywhere around the world hold their breath and watch the astronauts create history again and touchdown on the lunar surface. Of course this will only be the beginning as humans will endeavour to research the space technologies and necessities for human survival in space so that we can reach further out into our Solar System and finally land the first humans on the planet Mars.

The challenge

Your challenge in groups of three or four is to design and build a prototype of a moon base. Your first task is to name your moon base. There are many considerations to think about when designing and building a prototype. The following activities will help you answer the questions below and become familiar with the Moon environment to help you with your design.

  • Where would the best location to set up a moon base be and why?
  • What effect will Moon phases have on life on the Moon/moon base?
  • What effect will lunar and solar eclipses have?
  • How will you protect the moon base and life on the Moon from the threat of meteorites?

Other questions to think about and research before designing and building your prototype:

  • What will the moon base will look like? How many people could it house at one time?
  • What are the best materials to build the moon base?
  • How will it be constructed?
  • How will it be powered? Solar power, methane fuel, hydrogen, others?
  • How will it supply oxygen?
  • How will it cope with the temperature extremes or cosmic radiation?
  • How will it store food and other supplies for everyone on board?
  • What resources does the Moon already have that the humans can make use of?
  • How can the tunnels that lie underneath the surface of the Moon be useful?
  • How will it communicate back to Earth?

The activities

  1. Possible moon base sites
  2. Locked Moon and the moon base
  3. Moon phases and the moon base
  4. Understanding eclipse for the moon base
  5. Design a device, machine or robot to combat meteorites


You may want to use the following programs to design your moon base.

  • CoSpaces – make AR and VR in the classroom
  • TinkerCAD – easy-to-use app for 3D design, electronics, and coding
  • Recycled materials
  • LEGO

Advice to teachers

These activities have been designed to help students understand the astronomy concepts included in the Moonbase ONE Planetarium show. All the activities are linked to designing and building a prototype of a moon base on the Moon. Activities can also be completed independently by modifying the text or set of instructions.

The activities are designed for Year 5-8 students and are linked to curriculum areas around Design and Technologies, Science as a Human Endeavour, Physical Sciences, Earth Space Sciences and the Capabilities: Critical and Creative Thinking and Personal and Social and Intercultural and Ethical.

Curriculum links

  • Science as a human endeavour
  • Physical science
  • Earth and space science
  • Capabilities: Creative and critical thinking and personal and social
  • Design and technologies

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