Credit: Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V (LZH)

A “Moonrise” laser system is being designed to bring 3D-printing to the lunar surface by melting Moon dust.

This additive manufacturing on the Moon makes use of a laser system that weighs no more than 7 pounds (three kilograms) and has the volume of a large juice package. The system is being designed to melt down local raw materials on the Moon and convert them into versatile structures later.

Credit: Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V (LZH)

New space

Germany’s Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V (LZH) and the Institute of Space Systems (IRAS) of the Technical University of Braunschweig are aiming at melting lunar dust with a laser in order to make it usable as building material.

The opportunity to fly their Moonrise technology to the Moon in 2021 is aligned with the first lunar mission of PTScientists.

PTScientists is a Berlin-based “new space” company. The lunar module ALINA and the two lunar rovers, developed by PTScientists, are set to launch to the Moon for the first time in 2021, according to the group.

Moon village

Scientists from Braunschweig and Hanover want to melt regolith on the lunar surface in a controlled manner using their laser system. After cooling, it is a solid body that would be suitable, for example, as a building material for the proposed European Space Agency’s “Moon Village”, the vision of a global village on the Moon as an outpost in space.

Courtesy of NASA/JPL/USGS

The targeted melting by the Moonrise laser into predefined structures is monitored and recorded with high-resolution cameras. If the experiment succeeds on the Moon, the Moonrise process can be scaled up to produce larger structures. Thus, in the long term, whole infrastructures such as foundations, paths, and landing surfaces could be built using the Moonrise manufacturing technology, according to a LZH press statement.

A new ESA-led project is investigating the ways that 3D printing could be used to create and run a habitat on the Moon. Everything from building materials to solar panels, equipment and tools to clothes, even nutrients and food ingredients can potentially be 3D printed.
Credit: ESA


Future-oriented research

Moonrise is considered an ambitious and future-oriented research project, funded by the Volkswagen Foundation within the scope of “Open – for the Unusual.” The foundation supports extraordinary and daring projects for which no other donor can be found.

Project Moonrise has been running for almost nine months.

Direct proof

Currently, researchers are working on adapting the laser to the load compartment of the lunar vehicle, the rover. The laser is integrated into a tunnel at the bottom of the wheeled machinery.

Stefan Linke from IRAS explains in the press statement: “The planned direct proof — that we are able to process lunar regolith with already available hardware components — is crucial for the planning of future missions. Thus, larger and more sustainable projects on the surface of our cosmic neighbor are becoming possible.”

For more information, go to LZH at:

The Institute of Space Systems (IRAS) at:

and PTScientists at:

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