By Jelmer Luimstra | 3D Printing
‘Giant steps are what you take, walking on the moon/ I hope my legs don’t break, walking on the moon,’ sang Sting in the 1979-classic Walking on the Moon by The Police. Well, walking on the moon could become a whole lot easier with the current plans of the European Space Agency (ESA). It aims to set up a 3D printed lunar base on the moon, fully able to accommodate humans. The space agency released a video in which they provide the world with a preview of what life on the moon would look like.
The video shows a 3D printed house that looks like some sort of a bunker. The house has enough space to accommodate several human beings. If humans, however, would want to live on the moon, they need to be able to resist the extreme temperatures, which can vary from 253 degrees F (123 C) to minus 243 F (minus 153 C). The walls of a lunar base could prevent humans from those extreme temperatures. The ESA has been working together with Foster + Partners on a way to 3D print a sustainable lunar base.
The idea is to send a robot with a 3D printer to the moon so that they can print the foundation of the house. The 3D printer would create a weight-bearing dome with cellular structured walls to provide for shelter against micrometeoroids and space radiation. The house needs to be capable of accommodating up to four astronauts. It would take approximately three months to set up the lunar base. It could, however, take as many as 40 years before this project could become reality. 90 percent of the materials could be derived from the moon itself.
Enrico Dini, who invented the D-shape 3D printer to build the base, thinks the process is speeding up. “Our current printer builds at a rate of around 2 meters per hour, while our next-generation design should reach 3.5 meters per hour. [We can] complete an entire building in a week.” “As a practice, we are used to designing for extreme climates on Earth and exploiting the environmental benefits of using local, sustainable materials,” added Xavier De Kestelier of Foster + Partners. “Our lunar habitation follows a similar logic.”
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