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ICON and NASA Are Trying to Figure Out How to 3D Print a Moon Base

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Ladies and gents, you’ve heard of the Artemis program that’s being carried out by NASA and a few other international partners. The one where they’re planning on returning folks back to the Moon. Well, in the days following the return of humans to Earth’s favorite satellite, NASA, and Texas-based 3D printing business ICON, are planning to build the first settlements on the Moon.

There are so many issues with the above plans, that I can’t even begin to express. One important one is how are people supposed to build something in an atmosphere where getting up once you’ve fallen over can be a hassle.

Well, at the speed technology is currently moving at, people can now 3D print homes. No joke, it’s one of the main reasons why ICON is so big; they build and are currently selling 3D printed homes. So, since they have the technology to print homes here on Earth, NASA though it would be the perfect system to build settlements on the Moon.

“Building humanity’s first home on another world will be the most ambitious construction project in human history and will push science, engineering, technology, and architecture to literal new heights,” said Jason Ballard, Co-founder and CEO of ICON.

“NASA’s investment in space-age technologies like this can not only help to advance humanity’s future in space, but also to solve very real, vexing problems we face on Earth. We are honored to begin our research and development on ICON’s “Project Olympus” and the “Olympus Construction System.”

One of the biggest issues on the Moon is the lack of building equipment and materials. 3D printing is one of the most viable solutions as the entire setup that ICON uses can meet the requirements necessary to build on the Moon.

ICON currently produces a 3D printer named the Vulcan. It’s currently being used to build one-story homes with a maximum printing capacity of nearly 2,000 square feet (185.8 square meters). This system is transported on-site via a custom trailer and requires no assembly whatsoever. Currently it’s able to print to a height of 8.5 feet (2.6 meter) and width of 28 feet (8.5 meter).

The printer uses something called Lavacrete, a type of flowing concrete that can be created here on Earth, but on the Moon, what is there to use. Well, dust, and lots of it. Now, the race is one to find a mixture that can be created with materials found on the Moon, and one that can be tested here on Earth.

To do this, ICON has also teamed up with a couple of other groups known for award-winning architectural designs, BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group and SEArch+ (Space Exploration Architecture). Together, they’re to develop what sorts of building materials can be found, the level of structural integrity they can achieve, and of course, the design of these structures.

One thing is for certain, in a few months, if it hasn’t happened already, these teams will have figured out a way to create and finally test the necessary compound needed for humans to successfully inhabit the Moon.

If you want to know more than is mentioned here in this article, check out ICON’s website. However, that seems to be the ultimate plan in the grand scheme of things. Until then, testing diverse systems here on Earth is essential.

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