The technology behind 3D printing has allowed users to craft musical instruments and prosthetic limbs, and now European scientists are taking a serious look at printing their own moon base.
The European Space Agency (ESA) study is investigating how practical constructing a manned base on the moon only using 3D printing technology could be, given that it would rely primarily on lunar dirt for building materials.
“Terrestrial 3D printing technology has produced entire structures,” Laurent Pambaguian, who heads the project for ESA, said in a statement. “Our industrial team investigated if it could similarly be employed to build a lunar habitat.”
A moon base with style
Pambaguian’s team partnered with the London-based architecture firm Foster + Partners to draw up ideas for a 3D-printed moon colony. [See photos of the 3D-printed moon base ]
“As a practice, we are used to designing for extreme climates on Earth and exploiting the environmental benefits of using local, sustainable materials,” Xavier De Kestelier of Foster + Partners said in a statement. “Our lunar habitation follows a similar logic.”
Foster + Partners’ 3D printed design is a simple four-personmoon base that can be made completely out of repurposed moon dirt, which scientists call “regolith.”
Because the entire design is made primarily from indigenous lunar materials moon, there is no need to transport costly materials from the Earth into space. The base would be built using a robotic printer roving over an inflatable dome.