3D Printing

BIG shoots for the Moon with 3D-printed lunar habitat plan

BIG shoots for the Moon with 3...
Project Olympus is a collaboration between BIG, 3D-printing firm Icon, Search+ and NASA's Marshall Space Center
Project Olympus is a collaboration between BIG, 3D-printing firm Icon, Search+ and NASA's Marshall Space Center
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Project Olympus is a collaboration between BIG, 3D-printing firm Icon, Search+ and NASA's Marshall Space Center
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Project Olympus is a collaboration between BIG, 3D-printing firm Icon, Search+ and NASA's Marshall Space Center
Project Olympus will use "lunar soil simulant" to produce prototype habitats on Earth that could be suitable to allow humans to live on the moon
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Project Olympus will use "lunar soil simulant" to produce prototype habitats on Earth that could be suitable to allow humans to live on the moon
"Building on our experience with BIG’s Mars Science City, we are working to develop the first permanent structure on the Moon resilient to the hostile lunar environment where the cost of payload transportation requires rigorous efficiency," says Martin Voelkle, Partner at BIG
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"Building on our experience with BIG’s Mars Science City, we are working to develop the first permanent structure on the Moon resilient to the hostile lunar environment where the cost of payload transportation requires rigorous efficiency," says Martin Voelkle, Partner at BIG
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The Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has conceived some of the most interesting architecture projects we've seen on land, and even water, but its latest design is out of this world – literally. It involves the development of 3D-printed Moon habitats that could be used to support the human exploration of Earth's satellite.

Project Olympus is a collaboration between BIG and 3D printing technology firm Icon (which BIG recently announced it had made an investment in), as well as SEArch+ and NASA's Marshall Space Center. It also builds on BIG's Mars Science City efforts. It's too early yet for finer details on how the habitats would function, though BIG does provide some futuristic renders depicting protective donut-like shelters to whet our appetites.

"NASA has signaled that, through the Artemis program, the Moon will be the first off-Earth site for sustainable surface exploration," explains BIG's press release. "BIG has partnered with Icon to begin designing Project Olympus, a sustainable lunar habitat that will be the first human foray into extra-terrestrial construction with robust structures that provide better thermal, radiation, and micrometeorite protection than metal or inflatable habitats can offer. From landing pads to habitats, these collective efforts together with NASA and Search+ are driven by the need to make humanity a spacefaring civilization."

Project Olympus will use "lunar soil simulant" to produce prototype habitats on Earth that could be suitable to allow humans to live on the moon
Project Olympus will use "lunar soil simulant" to produce prototype habitats on Earth that could be suitable to allow humans to live on the moon

The team will make use of "lunar soil simulant" to develop its habitats on Earth with 3D-printing and robotic tech. You could think of the whole process as similar to a more ambitious version of WASP's 3D-printed mud hut.

If all goes to plan, 3D-printing robots could potentially land on the lunar surface and go about their business autonomously building human-habitable shelters from lunar soil while only requiring local materials and leaving no waste left behind. BIG also reckons that the project's drive towards efficiency could even possibly help reduce the carbon footprint of buildings on Earth.

Time will tell whether Project Olympus does end up bearing fruit, but BIG isn't the only major architecture firm to be interested in this area and Foster + Partners is also exploring the idea of a 3D-printed Moon base.

Source: BIG

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8 comments
Username
We'll need much more advanced robot to fit the airlocks and electrics and plumbing and furnishings...
FB36
IMHO, first base attempt should definitely be on the moon (for many good reasons), instead of Mars!

& IMHO, a (straight) half-tunnel would be way better than trying to find & use any lava tube or ANY 3D printed/constructed structure (& also for many good reasons) !
For example, it could be bored & sealed w/ an airlock & filled w/ air (by remote control robots) before the arrival of the crew!
& going in & out (while carrying equipment), anytime, would be really easy; quite unlike any lava tube!

& once such tech is made working, then more such tunnel bases can be constructed around/nearby, again & again, as many as wanted/needed!
MemoriaTechnica
I was of the impression the lunar regolith was so fine, and glass like, that it has the same effect on the lungs as asbestos and gets on everything like graphite dust, but much more abrasive, so any friction causes significant wear to things like hinges, axles, bearings, etc. As a result it was determined long term habitation on the moon would be impractical. Or have they found a way around it?
MemoriaTechnica
Found a good article regarding lunar regolith, from less than a year ago, so it sound like it's still a problem. Here's a quote: " "The more time you spend there, the more you get covered from helmet to boots with lunar dust," recalled Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin. Apollo 17 commander Gene Cernan expressed similar thoughts in a technical debrief following his mission, which was the last human sojourn to the moon. "I think dust is probably one of our greatest inhibitors to a nominal operation on the moon. I think we can overcome other physiological or physical or mechanical problems except dust," he said." https://www.space.com/moon-dust-problem-lunar-exploration.html
Trylon
Solar sintering with nothing more than lunar dust and a solar furnace is the way to go. The intensity of sunlight on the moon's surface is far higher than on the Earth, taking spacesuit surfaces up to 250ºF. A small furnace with only 250 square feet of mirrors could easily exceed 3000º, and lightweight heliostats easily launched to the moon are quite possible. Have a robot laying a new layer of regolith ahead of the moving sintering zone and the process could continue uninterrupted for the length of a lunar day, almost 350 hours.
rodney42
Most space agencies are coming around to the realization that any long term habitat will most likely be in a Giant Lunar Lava Tube. There also could be trapped water ice deep in the recesses of these tubes. Japan is sending a lander and rover to Marius Hills in 2022. Italy and Japan have both signed up with the United States for the Artemis program. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said last week that the Artemis III mission may not go to the south pole of the Moon, but may visit an Apollo site instead. What if they really plan to partner with Japan & Italy to explore Marius Hills for Lava tubes?
anthony88
How many launches of the largest rockets available will it take to deliver the printer, trucks for site grading and for carrying moon soil to the worksite, the soil-bonding agent, transparent panels for windows, airlocks and the equipment for making and distributing air to the interiors of the finished buildings?
Bob809
Looking at the top picture, I can see a problem with that design. The door/airlock/tunnel is a weak point. Surely it would be better to incorporate the door outer parts as flush as possible with the dome like exterior. Have the tunnel/airlock section within the, hopefully, more sturdy building so it is protected from possible external damage. That could be from aerial debris or clumsy drivers of moon vehicles. Just saying.