Feeds

ESA proposes 3D printing on the moon

Instant lunar base, just add moon rock

Intelligent flash storage arrays

One of the challenges with constructing a moon base is the extravagant expenditure needed to boost the necessary materials from Earth. The European Space Agency is now considering an alternative proposal: feeding moon rock to a 3D printer.

Architecture firm Foster + Partners has designed a concept demonstration suggesting it just may be feasible, turning a 1.5-tonne block into a simulated building. Using a 3D printer from UK company Monolite, a mobile printing array of nozzles sprayed materials onto a six meter frame using simulated lunar material.

The material was mixed with magnesium oxide to create a “‘paper’ we can print with”, says Monolite’s founder Enrico Dini. “Then for our structural ‘ink’ we apply a binding salt which converts material to a stone-like solid.”

Printed moon base demo design by Foster + Patners. Source: ESA

Another challenge was demonstrating that the process could work in a vacuum without the liquid boiling away into space. In the simulated environment, “we inserted the 3D printer nozzle beneath the regolith layer. We found small 2 mm-scale droplets stay trapped by capillary forces in the soil, meaning the printing process can indeed work in vacuum,” says Giovanni Cesaretti of Italian space research firm Alta, which also took part in the ESA project.

The project simulated lunar regolith by using basalt from a volcano in central Italy which, the researchers say, closely resembled the kind of material available on the moon.

More here and at the ESA here. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
Simon's says quantum computing will work
Boffins blast algorithm with half a dozen qubits
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
The hidden costs of self-signed SSL certificates
Exploring the true TCO for self-signed SSL certificates, including a side-by-side comparison of a self-signed architecture versus working with a third-party SSL vendor.