Feb 01 2013

Lunar Bases Via 3-D Printing?

The European Space Agency announced today that they and their collaborators — including London architects Foster + Partners — are investigating the possibility of using 3-D printing to facilitate the expansion of human civilization to the Moon.

Typical of Foster + Partners’ spectacular projects is the Millau Viaduct in southern France. Completed in 2004, the bridge is so high — towers stretch up to 1125 feet — that drivers often “glide above the clouds,” (Wall Street Journal, 1/26/13).
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(Daniel Jamme)

3-D Printing has been identified previously as being one of three key developing technologies (the other two are big data and the wireless revolution) that are likely to have as much impact on our future as electricity and telephony had on the last century.

These and other 21st Century technologies are poised to trigger a near-term JFK-style boom. In the last 200 years such twice-per-century expansions have repeatedly led to Apollo-level great explorations and 1960s-style cultural transformations, and can be expected to do so again.

According to Mark Mills (founder of Digital Power Group and Forbes columnist) and Julio Ottino (engineering dean at Northwestern), in WSJ (1/30/12):

America’s success isn’t preordained. But the technological innovations circa 2012 are profound. They will engender sweeping changes to our society and our economy. All the forces are in place. It’s just a matter of when.

ESA, Foster + Partners and their collaborators believe that building a lunar base using lunar materials and a 3-D printer would be simpler and more economical than previous ideas.
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Because 3-D printing has already been used to create buildings on Earth, Foster + Partners is using their experience designing structures for extreme climates on Earth to envision 3-D printer technology on the Moon.

One attractive idea is to mix lunar material with magnesium oxide to make a “paper” the 3-D printer can use. Engineers believe that a next gen 3-D printer will be able to create an entire lunar building in only a week.

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Lunar Bases Via 3-D Printing?”

  1. […] Plans For 3D Printing Of Lunar Base Gaining Attention In Space Media:┬áDoug Messier, Bruce Cordell, Larry Kellogg, Keith Cowing, WIRED; ESA Working With Architects Foster + Partners To Develop Lunar […]

  2. Cosmic manon 26 Feb 2013 at 11:48 am

    It’s wonderful to use 3D printers to build habitats and other infrastructure. But how this technology will going to work in the harsh environment of total vacuum? And remember extreme temperature as well. Day-night amplitude reaches 300 degrees!

    Absolutely right. Your list is certainly on their agenda!

    Bruce

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