The idea of using 3D printing to create human habitats on the Moon isn’t new. Knowledge of China’s plans to use the technology for the same purpose is quite novel. So far the country has sent several missions in its Chang’e lunar program to the moon, with its most recent bringing back samples from the surface.
The country intends to land astronauts on the lunar surface by 2030, shortly after NASA’s Artemis program is expected to have placed boots on the ground there. China plans on a more concrete presence on our lunar satellite and it’ll do it the same way everyone else is planning to stick around: 3D printing.
China’s 3D printing ambitions
There are three more missions planned before the Asian country sends astronauts to the Moon. Chang’e 6, 7, and 8 are set to take place but it’s that last mission that’s the big one. Chang’e 8’s purpose is to locate the resources needed to sustain a long-term human presence on our space rock. Part of this investigation will be into using lunar dust to create 3D-printed structures for human habitation.
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It’s not like the country doesn’t have the capability. China has already demonstrated that it’s able to use autonomous vehicles to create impressive structures. This would be a similar project, just a little further away. Okay, a lot further away, but it’s not like NASA’s preliminary results with regolith experimentation suggest that the idea will be a problem.
Chang’e 8 will include a robot designed to create “lunar soil bricks”. According to Wu Weiren, of the China National Space Administration, “If we wish to stay on the moon for a long time, we need to set up stations by using the moon’s own materials”. A 3D-printing autonomous robot sounds like a great start to that ambition.
Source: China Daily via Reuters