|For many centuries, humans have dreamt about what life might look like living on the moon. Even though it has been 50 years since the first lunar landing, we are still dreaming about it. 3D-printed building on the moon can solve it.
Project Olympus, a partnership between architecture firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), construction start-up ICON, and design firm SEArch+ could fulfil human’s dream. This project will develop a way to 3D-print structures on the moon using primary material on the moon.
Human can achieve permanent habitat if this plan is successful. The design team hopes their research can advance construction technology terrestrially, especially in being able to deploy inexpensive and well-designed housing.
According to ICON’s founder, he insisted that “Having to push the technology to these kinds of limits is what’s going to accelerate its development for us on Earth.”
State-of-the-art 3D-printing technology
Jason Ballard, founder of ICON has developed a 3D-printing technology, named Vulcan II that can jet out a house in under 24hours. This technology is currently developing the world’s first 3D printed community in Mexico. The company has also begun dabbling in how its technology could be applied to space.
BIG has also been finding ways to build in outer space through a test-case martian colony in the desert of Dubai. After BIG visited Icon’s facilities and took a look at Vulcan II, they think that a partnership seemed logical.
The goal of the team
The team’s objective is to facilitate lunar construction that is sustainable, achievable and beautiful.
A new settlement
The team faced a unique challenge, which is using the materials readily available on the moon to build structures. They need to get regolith -a fine grey powder that consists of minerals such as feldspar and basal and make it a printing medium. The process is through melting or sintering it to a lava-like consistency. The architects then envisage 3D-printing vaulted structures made from a waffle-like network of rigid exterior ribs using this molten material. These, in turn, can be filled with regolith, which has the extra benefit of absorbing intense solar radiation. Besides, it can mitigate the impact of mini meteorites that pummel the moon’s surface each year.
BIG has unveiled a master plan that these structure techniques could yield, complete with garages for lunar vehicles, roads, facilities for collecting lunar surface material, and human habitats. This human habitat will be a special one which astronauts can gaze at home, from 200,000 miles away.
In addition, BIG stated that some structures will have almost Gothic proportions because of factors such as gravity and pressure.
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