ESA Moon base design.
Credit: ESA/P. Carril

The European Space Agency is studying multiple techniques for 3D printing of structures on the Moon, including solar sintering and ceramics.

Credit: ESA

A 1.5 ton hollow cell block made from simulated lunar dust has been produced using a binding salt as “ink.”

The structure was made during an initial feasibility project on lunar 3D printing. It is on display in the laboratory corridor of ESA’s European Space Research and Technology Center (ESTEC) in the Netherlands.

ESTEC is the European Space Agency’s main technology development and test center for spacecraft and space technology.

These finely-detailed ceramic parts have been 3D printed using simulated lunar regolith as part of an ESA-led investigation into how 3D printing could be used to support a lunar base.
Credit: ESA–G. Porter, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

Moon settlement

In an earlier ESA statement it was noted that work was underway in designing an advanced printer that could complete an entire building in a week.

3D printing works best at room temperature but over much of the Moon temperatures vary enormously across days and nights lasting two weeks each.

Mosaic of the lunar south pole from images acquired by ESA’s Small Missions for Advanced Research in Technology (SMART-1) that flew 2003-2006.
Credit: ESA

3D printing works best at room temperature but over much of the Moon temperatures vary enormously across days and nights lasting two weeks each. For potential settlement, the lunar poles offer the most moderate temperature range.

The Shackleton area at the south pole of the Moon comes with an illuminated peak located 4.3 miles (7 kilometers) from the Shackleton rim. This “Peak of almost Eternal Light” could be used to supply electricity via solar panels to a future base.

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