3D Printing on the Moon

Credit: esa.int

Space colonization is no longer a utopian idea. The fact that the human race will eventually end up living in 3D printed inhabitable structures on other planets seems in fact to be something that will happen relatively soon and several entities, including NASA, are currently dedicating time and money to make this happen.

Will these planets ever feel like home? That’s a totally different question…

The European Space Agency (ESA) decided to delve into the question by running a competition. Participants were asked to answer a simple question: what would you 3D print on the Moon, to make it feel like home?

The competition received more than a hundred entries from adults and children across the world with ideas ranging from mobile lampshades to generate Earth-like colors to hourglasses filled with lunar dust.

The two selected winners, one from adult category and one from the under 18 category, both had ideas connected to nature.

The adult category winner, a visual artist from the UK, proposed to 3D print a “magic Moon garden” printed from recycled colored plastics.
Like real flowers and plants, their 3D printed equivalents would be aromatic, to freshen the air, and perform the work of an air recycling unit changing carbon dioxide to oxygen. They would also ‘grow’ as each plant would be made up of smaller components that could be rearranged or added to over time, as if growing in nature.

The young winner from Spain instead suggested creating a dodecahedron (or 12-sided) plant pot – ideally for a real plant – that also incorporates symbols of distant Earth. The student ensured her design was 3D printable by actually designing it in a 3D printing format.

While the competition definitely stimulated the imagination of the participants and of all the people who came across the initiative, it also helped the ESA to study new ways 3D printing could be used for the construction, operations, and maintenance of a future lunar base.

“This competition was a very good initiative to connect our study to the public, and gain insight into human factors involved in lunar settlement,” commented Advenit Makaya, overseeing the lunar 3D printing study.

Hopefully, researches like this will help future “space” architects to design a place that will make us feel like home.

Read more at esa.int

Categories: Aerospace