Feb 01 2013
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).
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.
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.