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Multi-dome base being constructed  (Source: ESA)
A 1.5 tonne building block has already been produced for demonstration purposes

The European Space Agency (ESA) is looking to build a lunar base with 3D printing using local materials on the moon.

The idea behind this project is to offer settlement for astronauts on the moon while using less of Earth's resources to do so.

ESA has partnered with architectural firms like Foster + Partners to see whether lunar soil could be used for a 3D printed lunar base. In fact, Foster + Partners has already designed a "catenary" dome, which is a hollow closed-cell structure complete with a wall that protects against space radiation and micrometeoroids.

A 1.5 tonne building block has already been produced for demonstration purposes, as seen below:


The 3D structures are built layer-by-layer. The lunar material would be combined with magnesium oxide, which turns it into a "paper" to be printed with. Then, for the "ink," a binding salt is added to transform the material into a solid. The architects are trying to create a structure that can handle the harsh weather and environment that the moon can have.

“3D printing offers a potential means of facilitating lunar settlement with reduced logistics from Earth,” said Scott Hovland of ESA’s human spaceflight team.
“The new possibilities this work opens up can then be considered by international space agencies as part of the current development of a common exploration strategy.”

Source: European Space Agency



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By JediJeb on 2/3/2013 9:02:28 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
I don't know if we can expect much in the way of natural caves/caverns to exist.


Caves on Earth were formed by erosion from water, mostly in areas of limestone, so the likelihood of finding caves on the Moon would be very small. Mars however should have caves to use as natural habitats when we go there.


By maugrimtr on 2/5/2013 7:21:27 AM , Rating: 2
We already know Mars is riddled with lava tubes - we can see collapsed ones across the surface.

Building above ground on the Moon is not that far fetched. It has no atmosphere or weather. Mainly you just need those giant blocks to create an outer shell to protect your internal habitats (which would need to be constructed using Earth materials - i.e. vacuum proof, electronics, plumbing, etc.) from raditation, extreme heat/cold (no atmosphere!), and small meteor impacts.


"You can bet that Sony built a long-term business plan about being successful in Japan and that business plan is crumbling." -- Peter Moore, 24 hours before his Microsoft resignation

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