The European Space Agency ESA has revealed plans for building a lunar village. To make this challenge possible they want to use 3D printers on the moon.
At the moment the International Space Station ISS is the first address for research and development in space. But the ISS is getting closer to the end of its lifetime, it’s certain that the space station will stay operational until 2024. Technically it could be used until 2028. A few years ago ESA had plans to create a base on the moon but these plans were discarded and they had other focal points in their research and development.
Now the head of the ESA, Jan Woerner, has revealed the old plans for building a lunar base and he added that this base could be used as starting point for other missions for example to the Mars. At the moment the ESA is working on food and space suits for the moon. But there are still a lot of open questions, for example where they should build the base on the moon.
To construct the needed buildings and structures they want to use 3D printers because without these devices it would be nearly impossible to build a lunar base. First tests have already shown that 3D printers could create stable and complex structures out of cement.
An other research project from the USA is working on getting metal from the space (e.g. the moon or asteroids) and printing parts with the metal. A combination of 3D printed metal and stone / cement would be a solid base for building a village on the moon. 2007 Google announced that they would pay 30.000.000 Dollar for the first private landing on the moon. There are different teams working on this “Race to the moon” a German company called Part-Time-Sientists has gotten even the support from Audi. Their prototype has a weight of less than 10 kilogram and uses a lot of 3D printed parts.
A big project like building a lunar village is only possible when different countries work together. Because of that ESA and NASA already teamed up and now they speak with China about cooperation. Russia is working alone and has patented a technique for breaking stones on the moon to get 3D printable material.