Feb 26, 2018 | By Tess

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is reportedly exploring the possibility of creating 3D printed lunar habitats on the moon. The space agency joins NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and Russia in the race to settle on the Earth’s only permanent natural satellite.

Long has the idea of settling on the moon appealed to humans, but only in recent years has the notion gone from complete sci-fi to something that is potentially feasible. This feasibility is thanks in large part to new technologies, including 3D printing, which are taking us closer to actually establishing and building on the moon’s surface.

According to ISRO, it is planning to build “igloo-like” structures on the Moon’s surface in the relatively near future, and plans to use 3D printers and robots to build the habitats from materials sourced from the moon.

So far, the Indian space agency has already built one model of a lunar habitat using 3D printing, which is being assessed at its lunar terrain testing facility. ISRO has purportedly come up with five potential designs for the moon structures, which will all be tested.

“We are planning to use the moon as an outpost,” ISRO Satellite Centre’s director Mr. Annadurai told the Times of India. “In the long run, the space station is likely to be scrapped. Many countries, including the U.S. are considering building more permanent structures on the moon and working out of there. When that happens, we want India to have contributed.”

To prepare for construction on the moon, ISRO scientists have also been developing materials that closely resemble lunar soil in their properties. At present, the agency says it has about 60 tonnes of the lunar simulant which matches the moon’s actual soil by about 99.6 percent.

Materials, of course, will be a key part of building sound structures that will keep astronauts safe when lunar settlements are established. In the U.S., researchers from Northwestern University have demonstrated the ability to 3D print structures made from lunar and Martian simulants. Across the pond in Germany, ESA researchers are pursuing similar techniques by 3D printing bricks of simulated moondust using concentrated sunlight.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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