Credit: Project RegoLight

Progress is being made in fabricating building elements on the Moon.

In one effort, 3D printing technologies and methodologies for lunar buildings makes use of the Sun as a source of energy to “sinter” and “shape” lunar regolith, the loose layer of dust, soil and broken rocks on the Moon’s surface.

Architects, engineers, systems designers, and scientists teamed to create project RegoLight. Team work was coordinated by the German Aerospace Center (DLR)-Cologne, bringing together the talents of the Belgium-based Space Applications Services, Comex of Marseille, France, LIQUIFER Systems Group in Austria, and Bollinger Grohmann Engineers in Austria.

Credit: Project RegoLight

Range of geometries

A range of geometries were developed to serve as interlocking building elements for the construction of a lunar base, elements that could provide radiation shielding for inhabited and pressurized modules, as well as non-pressurized shelters as dust and micro-meteoroid protection for machinery. Also studied was a launch pad apron, and terrain modeling for a radio telescope on the far side of the Moon.

RegoLight was carried out as a 2-year project under the European Union‘s Horizon 2020 Program. The project started November 2015 and concluded late last year.

Blast shields up…for incoming and outgoing lunar landers.
Credit: Project RegoLight

Additive layer manufacturing

In a related development, OHB System AG, a subsidiary of the Bremen-based space and technology group OHB SE, signed a contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) for a study “Conceiving a Lunar Base Using 3D Printing Technologies.”

OHB is leading a team with three more partners (Comex, LIQUIFER, and Sonaca of Berlin, Germany). This team is evaluating the feasibility and implementation effort of using Additive Layer Manufacturing in the construction, operations and maintenance of a lunar base.

Two parallel studies

The study involves two parallel surveys:

  • Mapping the required hardware for a continuously human tended lunar base. From permanent infrastructures to “on demand” items, a wide range of elements of different scales will be investigated for their potential to be 3D printed.
  • The other survey is an analysis of available additive layer manufacturing technologies and their potential capabilities in a lunar environment. The assessment includes the state of the art of 3D printing related to several materials such as metals, polymers, ceramics, concrete, food ingredients, and living tissues.

For video concerning the innovative work done under Project RegoLight, go to:

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