European scientists considering Lunar Bases, using 3D printers

Discussion in 'On Topic' started by dgo, Feb 3, 2013.

  1. dgo

    dgo New Member

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    The technology behind 3D printing has allowed users to craft musical instruments and prosthetic limbs, and now European scientists are taking a serious look at printing their own moon base.

    The European Space Agency (ESA) study is investigating how practical constructing a manned base on the moon only using 3D printing technology could be, given that it would rely primarily on lunar dirt for building materials.

    "Terrestrial 3D printing technology has produced entire structures," Laurent Pambaguian, who heads the project for ESA, said in a statement. "Our industrial team investigated if it could similarly be employed to build a lunar habitat."

    Pambaguian's team partnered with the London-based architecture firm Foster + Partners to draw up ideas for a 3D-printed moon colony. [See photos of the 3D-printed moon base]

    "As a practice, we are used to designing for extreme climates on Earth and exploiting the environmental benefits of using local, sustainable materials," Xavier De Kestelier of Foster + Partners said in a statement. "Our lunar habitation follows a similar logic."

    Foster + Partners' 3D printed design is a simple four-person moon base that can be made completely out of repurposed moon dirt, which scientists call "regolith."

    Because the entire design is made primarily from indigenous lunar materials moon, there is no need to transport costly materials from the Earth into space. The base would be built using a robotic printer roving over an inflatable dome.

    "3D printing offers a potential means of facilitating lunar settlement with reduced logistics from Earth," Scott Hovland of ESA’s human spaceflight team said. "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."

    The base would have a cell-like but strong frame resembling the structure of bird bones that will protect lunar residents from gamma radiation and micrometeorites that could destroy a less robust build.

    ESA and the agency's partners have already built part of the base. Using a mixture of silicon, aluminum, calcium, iron and magnesium oxides meant to simulate regolith — a mixture of dust and dirt — found on the moon, ESA and its partners printed a 2,205-pound (1,000 kilograms) piece of what part of the home could look like.

    "The planned site for the base is at the moon’s southern pole, where there is near perpetual sunlight on the horizon," officials for Foster and Partners said in a statement.

    The firm has started trying out the 3D printer in conditions similar to those on the surface of the moon. The team has started printing various structures inside a vacuum chamber.

    This isn't the first time a space agency has considered 3D printing a lunar base. Last year, NASA officials challenged researchers at Washington State University in Pullman, Wash. to 3D print the ceramic-like simulated lunar regolith into smooth, cylindrical shapes to test the strength of the material.

    Foster + Partners is also partnering with other firms to build the first private spaceport in the world. Known as Spaceport America, the $209 million base will serve as a hub for commercial spaceflight. The spaceport should be completed later this year.


    http://news.yahoo.com/3d-printers-could-build-futuristic-moon-colony-135300655.html


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    3D printing, and eventually advanced nanotechnology, will really revolutionize the world (and the solar system)! Just another amazing thing that will soon be possible. This will greatly reduce the costs of building artificial structures beyond the Earth, and potentially make it economically feasible.
     
  2. Darketernal

    Darketernal Watch: Aria The Origination =)

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    i am all in for it, i just don't know what there is exactly to gain on the moon.
     
  3. dgo

    dgo New Member

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    Exactly why there is no race back to the moon right now. Until there's an economic incentive, space colonization won't be much of a focus.

    Although, if lunar bases could be constructed cheaply, and transportation that's safe/regular/cheap is designed, then space tourism could be an economic incentive for some companies to at least try it.

    I don't expect a huge rush to space until we're looking to mine resources, though. Two asteroid-mining companies are supposed to start operating sometime by 2020, so we'll see soon enough if they can be successful.
     
  4. Diesel66

    Diesel66 My standards for women is like rent-a-centers stan OT Supporter

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    Moon is a great place to bounce off of.
     
  5. WyrdRich

    WyrdRich New Member

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    What powers the printers?
     
  6. convolutedmind

    convolutedmind Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss e

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    I'm guessing a nuclear reactor, like what is used for Curiosity on Mars .
     
  7. Sjengwijk

    Sjengwijk New Member

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    Even more tax coming with this, I assume.
     
  8. Godstone

    Godstone New Member

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    I think this is great - future moon bases might need (let's say) 100 miles of corridors, and ten thousand rooms of various sizes. All the sections of floors/ceilings/walls can be made onsite with 3D printers.

    Compare the cost of that with the cost of transporting ten thousand rooms and 100 miles of corridors from Earth.
     
  9. Maliboost

    Maliboost Active Member

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  10. spagina

    spagina Well-Known Member

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  11. Publius

    Publius Puh-blee-uhs OT Supporter

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    are you suggesting that a moon base is impossible? because it isn't. there are many power sources we could use currently. :rofl:

    IMO solar would probably be the easiest--without any cloud cover or atmosphere of any appreciable kind on the moon the cells will be able to charge easily, and we already have the battery storage capacity to handle a base during darkness (though really with reflected sunlight from the earth onto the moon, solar cells may still generate significant power even when that surface of the moon isn't facing the sun).
     
  12. spagina

    spagina Well-Known Member

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    :rofl:No, the idea itself is just stupid. Why print when when you can excavate. Just dig a frigging hole and put a door on it.
     
  13. Publius

    Publius Puh-blee-uhs OT Supporter

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    The idea has merit for the creation of facilities of greater complexity--and therefore more functionality/usefulness--than just digging a hole in the ground. It also probably costs less than doing a full sublunarian (get it? subterranean, but the moon is luna not terra :mamoru: ) excavation project, when you really think about it. It's actually rather the first kind of thing I thought of as a great future use of the technology when I first heard of 3D printing (being a bit of a "sci-geek" and a sci-fi fan as well).
     
  14. spagina

    spagina Well-Known Member

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    Why not just use a crater then and "print" a roof over it?
     
  15. Publius

    Publius Puh-blee-uhs OT Supporter

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    This is an excellent option, and one that would seem to be more cost effective than what the ESA is considering, I agree. :dunno:
     
  16. RMNIXON

    RMNIXON New Member

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    I will be impressed with ESA when I see results. Not a lot of hand holding rhetoric and computer graphics.

    Then again the USA is out of the Space Race, so who knows the next contender. :rolleyes:

    I think China unless Iran puts that Chimpanzee of a leader on the moon first? :rofl:
     
  17. Publius

    Publius Puh-blee-uhs OT Supporter

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    Active missions away from Earth operated by the ESA right now include Mars Express, Venus Express, 2 science missions orbiting at the L2 lagrangian point, Cassini (w/ NASA), Rosetta, and maybe a couple of others. :dunno: The ESA does a lot given that it currently isn't funded at anywhere near the levels of NASA, which is itself pretty woefully underfunded.
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2013
  18. Jimeigh

    Jimeigh Every rook and jay in the corvidae have been raven

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