In reaction to the prevalent space design paradigm, we would like to explore a combination of transparent polymer laminate membranes and high tensile strength webbing as the envelope of future transparent space habitats. Further study reveals fascinating possibilities in the use a tensegrity structures as the exo- or endoskeleton for such envelopes.
In the following work we look at thin shell transparent structures as possible observation modules in space habitats or as the domed component for a colony on the moon or another planet. For such structures the internal pressure is not only a load but their shaping force as well, i.e. they are de-facto inflatables. We investigate their feasibility based on available technologies, such as lobed balloons. Other sources of technological transfer are ETFE (ethylene-tetrafluoroethylene copolymer) cushions, safety laminate foils, and hi-tech laminate sails design. We further develop the basic idea of using lobed transparent membranes in space habitats through several case studies. We would finally like to spur a discussion about design process as it relates to inflatable structures.