NASA is looking to build its first permanent structure on the Moon: a lunar base equipped with workspace and daily living space for astronauts, runways, roads and storage. The program will be part of its next space mission to the Moon named Artemis and will be launched in stages. Construction is expected to begin by the end of the next decade.
A startup company in Texas claims to have the solution: build a structure using moondust 3D printing. ICON is a company with extensive experience in 3D printed buildings. Since 2018 he has been dedicated to building homes in Mexico and Texas and in 2015 he participated in NASA’s 3D Printed Habitat challenge demonstrating a construction method and technologies that can be adapted for applications beyond our planet. “Since the founding of ICON, we have been thinking about building off this planet,” said Ballard.
The idea is to develop a technology that can turn moondust, the top layer on the moon’s soil, into a material similar to concrete, ICON founder Jason Ballard told CNN .
According to a report from Markets to Markets, 3D printing technology could reduce construction waste by 30% – 60%, labor costs by 50% – 80% and construction time by 50% – 70%.
ICON has been working closely with other departments at NASA such as the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, to test moondust simulants and various processing and printing technologies. “We want to increase the level of readiness of the technology and test systems to demonstrate that it would be feasible to develop a large-scale 3D printer that could build infrastructure on the Moon or Mars,” said Corky Clinton, associate director of the Office of Science and Technology. Marshall technology.
For NASA, building on the Moon would be the first step before doing it on the planet Mars.
A project of this magnitude (and out of this world) is expected to have some hurdles. This includes not only turning moondust into building material, but also building comfortable and strong structures that are resistant to “high levels of radiation, violent lunar earthquakes, extreme changes in temperature.”
According to Space.com , temperatures on the Moon during the day are around 100 degrees C and at night, as cold as 173 degrees C.
Eighteen astronauts and aircraft experts have been chosen to train for the mission, including two Hispanics , Joseph M. Acabá and Francisco C. Rubio. The last time a man stepped on the moon was in 1972. This time nine women will have the opportunity to make history and glide through the star.
The astronauts are Joseph M. Finda, Kayla J. Barron, Raja Chari, Matthew S. Dominick, Victor J. Glover, Warren Hoburg, Jonathan Kim, Christina H. Koch, Kjell N. Lindgren, Nicole A. Mann, Anne C. McClain, Jessica U. Meir, Jasmin Moghbeli, Kathleen Rubins, Francisco C. Rubio, Scott D. Tingle, Jessica A. Watkins, and Stephanie D. Wilson.
The program’s first flight that will send astronauts into space is scheduled for 2023.