A Home of Your Own On the Moon
Space travel is increasing every day. Exploring and researching different planets to see which one could be appropriate for human settlement. Well the European Space Agency (ESA) has revealed that there is a possibility of human settlement outside Earth.
The ESA says that the base for humans will be made by 3D printing robots. The structure will be made of an inflatable dome covered in lunar soil. The module will have enough room for four people, it will include an airlock to make it easy to come onto the lunar surface. The thick walls made of the lunar soil will protect astronauts from radiation and meteorites.
ESA worked in collaboration with architectural firm Foster & Partners to set the project in motion. Experts have predicted that within the next 40 years the module could be ready for humans to move into. Autonomous robots will be used to print the cellular structure in 3D. The team says that 90% of the materials that will be needed to build the module already exist on the Moon, so only the robots and lightweight parts, such as inflatables and solid connector and entry segments will have to be transported from Earth. The lunar element used to build the strong walls of the unit is sprayed on in the form of a foam. The walls will be built at a rate of around 2 meters per hour. The specialist modelling group, Xavier De Kestelier, ‘As a practice, we are used to conceptualizing for extreme climates on Earth and exploiting an environmental advantages of using local, tolerable materials. Our lunar home follows a similar logic.’
The hollow structure looks something like bird bones which is meant to provide a good combination of strength and weight. The architectural firm has designed the module to be a weight bearing dome. 3D printouts are built up layer by layer. The founder of the printing firm Monolite, Enrico Dini explains the process. First, the lunar material is mixed with magnesium oxide which turns it into ‘paper’ that can be printed with. Then, for the binding ink, a binding salt is applied which converts material into a stone like solid. A mock up has been made to replicate moon brick. Though the process from end to finish seems tedious, the future of space travel seems more promising.