NASA announces plans to build houses on the moon by 2040
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Featured Image Credit: ICON
Hopefully, rent is cheaper out there.
The lunar plan is called Project Olympus, which will see NASA blast a 3D printer up to the moon to build structures around it with specialized lunar concrete formed by rock chips, mineral fragments and dust from the top layer of the moon’s surface.
NASA is also collaborating with private companies and universities to help construct doors, furniture, tiles, ect.
“We’ve got all the right people together at the right time with a common goal, which is why I think we’ll get there,” Niki Werkheiser, NASA’s director of technology maturation, told the NYT.
“Everyone is ready to take this step together, so if we get our core capabilities developed, there’s no reason it’s not possible.”
However, one major problem is confronting Project Olympus.
As outlined in the NYT, the moon is home to lunar dust so strong that it can cut through glass and damage the housing materials.
Also, launching materials into space will prove difficult, which is why the space agency has partnered with ICON.
They will use the lunar soil in its 3D printing to construct these houses.
“The first thing that needs to happen is a proof of concept. Can we actually manipulate the soil on the lunar surface into a construction material?” said Jennifer Edmunson, the lead geologist at Marshall Space Flight Center for the project, told the outlet.
“We need to start this development now if we’re going to realize habitats on the moon by the 2040 time frame.”
ICON will test its printer in NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center next year before construction begins in outer space to see if it can withstand the environment.
Victor Pritchett, director of experimental fluids and environmental test branch for Marshall, explained he has a dozen testing chambers with the same radiation and thermal vacuum conditions that they would endure off earth.
He added that if materials can withstand the chambers, they’ll likely be able to last in space.
But first, NASA will have to launch landing pads for the rockets to carry the 3D printers to the moon.
These pads will be away from the construction so the dust kicked up during landing and takeoff can be mitigated.
Here's hoping it all goes according to plan.