A 3D printer is heading to the International Space Station that will make extraterrestrial building materials. Man’s return to the Moon is taken for granted since many space agencies are immediately planning manned missions there while manned missions to Mars are also being prepared. The residence initially of astronauts and then of scientists but also later of some inhabitants on the Moon is an important issue that concerns the space services.
One idea —which has fallen on the table in recent years— was to create lodges on the surface of the Moon and Mars with local materials, so that it would not be necessary to transport building materials and other construction systems from Earth. Many research groups found this idea interesting and focused on the development of relevant technology mainly through the use of 3D printing.
In the new load of equipment and supplies that is heading to the International Space Station (ISS) —and will arrive there in the next 24 hours— there will also be a 3D printer. This printer was created on behalf of NASA by “Redwire Space” company and was designed to create building materials for the construction of buildings on the Moon from the dust from which its surface is covered.
In particular, the printer will create building materials from the “regolith”. It is an intermediate loose layer between the soil and the parent rock called the “disintegration mantle”, or “regolith” and consists of fragments of rocks, minerals and glass. “Regolith” exists on Earth, the Moon and Mars.
The printer will be tested in the microgravity conditions of the ISS, to determine its capabilities and what kind of changes and adjustments are required to function properly and to achieve with its presence the easy and fast construction of high-quality and safe buildings on the Moon and Mars.
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