Valentina Sumini is a Postdoctoral Associate and a Space Architect at MIT Media Lab in Responsive Environments and Space Exploration Initiative. She develops design and architectures to sustain human life in extreme environments on Earth and enable human space exploration in Low Earth Orbit, on the Moon and Mars. Her research interests focuses on inventing new computational design methods for multi-performance habitats, soft-robotic prosthetics to enhance mobility and dexterity in microgravity, and construction techniques using in-situ resources.
Her passion in advancing human performance during deep space exploration mission dates back to 2009 when she designed for the first time an hotel on the lunar surface, named Moorea, for democratizing the access to space to tourists. Over the years she developed more in depths studies that she applied to different scenarios and award winning competitions projects, mainly organized by international space agencies: a Space Hotel orbiting in Low Earth Orbit around Earth (NASA RASC-AL Competition 2017), a city on Mars, named Redwood Forest and its generative design model Mars habitat W.A.T.E.R. (Mars City Design Competition 2017 ), different Marsboreal Greenhouse project on Mars ( NASA Big Idea Challenge 2019, NASA TRISH Space Health), an H.Y.D.R.A system to extract ice/water from the subsurface of Mars (NASA RASC-AL Competition 2018), a Moon Village in collaboration with the architectural firm Skidmore, Owings and Merril and the European Space Agency, a soft robotic exoskeleton for enhancing astronaut movements and performance in microgravity conditions (tested on a Zero-G parabolic flight with the MIT Media Lab – Space Exploration Initiative), and an aerospace-grade electronic SpaceSkin for distributed sensing on persistent orbital structures.