Several researchers are working to create a sustainable settlement on the moon. The idea is to use 3-D printing to make buildings out of the lunar soil, which will reduce the cost of launching materials from Earth. In addition, they’re looking into modular and inflatable structures as ways to create larger, habitable spaces.
NASA is looking at modular and inflatable structures as ways to create larger habitable spaces
Using inflatable structures and modular construction, NASA is looking at ways to increase the volume of habitable space for human habitation. For long-term human exploration of Mars, large habitable modules are required. But if current launch vehicles can only produce metallic modules, these structures cannot meet the long-term demands of the Mars program.
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Inflatable structures provide a unique solution to the problem of volume constraints. The hollow modules can be joined together in a predetermined pattern to create a large usable space. These modules may also include storage and living quarters. The modules can then be assembled on the surface of the destination planet.
There are three main types of inflatable structures. They include: internal pressure structures, helical structures, and wheel structures. The helical configuration allows for simple gravity to be generated as the modules rotate. The wheel structure uses a network of pressurized tubes to connect the modules.
There are several inflatable habitat designs, including the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) and the Genesis II. These are 10-ft and 13-ft in diameter, respectively, and provide 565 cubic feet of usable space.
3-D printing with lunar soil could reduce the expense of launching materials from Earth
Using 3D printing technology to build structures house building service on the moon could cut costs by avoiding the need to send materials from Earth. As well as providing a more practical solution for building lunar habitats, it could reduce the risk of missions to the Moon by using local resources. Using a mobile printing head could also reduce thermal stress.
One of the most important aspects of the 3D printing technology is that it works at room temperature. This is vital because lunar temperatures can vary hugely. A lunar outpost could last for years, or even decades, before enough water is produced.
A number of companies are testing how to harvest lunar resources and build habitats on the Moon. One company, Luyten, has already launched a 3D printing construction system. It uses the simulated lunar regolith to create buildings.
The company is also working to create a lunar settlement. Using simulated lunar regolith can be a cheap alternative to sending materials to the Moon.
Harvesting resources on the moon
Whether you’re a planetary scientist or a space engineer, there are plenty of exciting things happening in the aerospace industry, particularly around the Moon. The discovery of water ice at the Moon’s poles was a huge game changer. It could help humans establish a permanent lunar base, and it could also reveal a bit about the early Solar System.
During the Apollo program, astronauts took samples from the Moon’s equator. They also studied the craters around the Moon, which may show how the Solar System formed.
Scientists are also studying the Moon’s water cycle. Water molecules are chemically bound to minerals, which could lead to the creation of rare metals. They could also be used to make oxygen and fuel cells.
Water could also be used to power rockets. The Moon’s equator has a lot of hydrogen. Astronauts could mine ice near the poles and split it into liquid hydrogen and oxygen. This would make space travel much cheaper.
Creating a sustainable settlement
Creating a sustainable settlement on the Moon may seem like a distant dream, but researchers are developing technologies to enable this goal. NASA is working with American companies to send technology payloads to the moon through its Commercial Lunar Payload Services initiative.
The first lunar shelters will likely be built from materials launched from Earth. Regolith is the soil found everywhere on the moon. It is rich in minerals, metals and oxygen. It contains 43% oxygen by mass.
Regolith also contains silica and metallic oxides. These materials could be harvested and used as building materials. The material can also be used to make fuel cells and as propellant. NASA is also looking into the possibility of mining the moon’s rocks for oxygen.
Scientists have long explored the potential for harvesting lunar resources. This could be a way to extend the time that astronauts spend on the moon. It could also make the base more self-sufficient.