INSIDE MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR PLAN TO BUILD A TOWN ON THE MOON USING LUNAR DUST
By Jona Jaupi
ONE 3D-printing company has revealed plans to build towns on the Moon’s surface.
Nasa has given 3D printing firm Icon $57.2 million to develop a plan that could help build infrastructure on the lunar surface.
Types of infrastructure would include landing pads, habitats, and roads on the lunar surface.
Not only would the developments be built for Nasa but for commercial companies, as well.
Icon, based in Austin, previously displayed its cutting-edge technology by 3D printing a 1,700-square-foot simulated Martian habitat.
Nasa’s contract will help Icon research and develop space-based construction systems, specifically for its project Olympus.
This project will help to support the planned exploration of the Moon and beyond.
It’s also intended to be a multi-purpose construction system primarily using local lunar and Martian resources as building materials to further the efforts of NASA as well as commercial organizations to establish a sustained lunar presence.
“In order to explore other worlds, we need innovative new technologies adapted to those environments and our exploration needs,” said Niki Werkheiser, director of technology maturation in Nasa’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD).
“Pushing this development forward with our commercial partners will create the capabilities we need for future missions.”
Icon plans to bring its hardware and software into space via a lunar gravity simulation flight.
ICON has become known for its advanced 3D printing technology for homebuilding on Earth, delivering the first, permitted 3D-printed home in the U.S. in 2018.
Since then, the team has delivered communities of 3D-printed homes in the U.S. and Mexico and barracks for the U.S. Army and Air Force and the Texas Military Department.
ICON also competed in NASA’s 3D Printed Habitat Challenge.
The company partnered with the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, and the team won a prize for 3D printing a structure sample that was tested for its ability to hold a seal, for strength, and for durability in temperature extremes.
ICON adds: “Nasa has signaled that, through the Artemis program, the Moon will be the first off-Earth site for sustainable surface exploration.
“Building a sustainable presence on the Moon requires more than rockets. For a sustained lunar presence, robust infrastructure will need to be built on the Moon that provides better thermal, radiation, and micrometeorite protection.