An Austin-based company is working with NASA to build a vacation home that’s out of this world.
Still in the very early stages of its ambitious project, the American space agency revealed that by 2040, there will a residential subdivision on the moon, that won’t just be a space for astronauts, but also for civilians.
Because “there’s no Home Depot” on the giant rock, and aggressive conditions that can annihilate any structure built with foreign materials, the lunar community will be constructed with native materials and a 3D printing machine.
Keep reading to learn more about NASA’s massive space construction plan!
On July 20, 1969, Commander Neil Armstrong touched the powdery surface of the moon and said, “Houston, Tranquility base here.” Then referencing the name of the lunar lander, Armstrong continued, “The Eagle has landed.”
Almost 55 years later, the astronaut’s “one small step” is still imprinted on the moon’s surface, outliving Armstrong, who died in 2012.
When a larger spacerock, like a comet, hurls toward the moon’s surface, it destroys the ground, creating craters.
And the temperature on the moon – “a blistering 250° Fahrenheit (120° Celsius or 400 Kelvin) during lunar daytime at the moon’s equator,” and “-208 degrees F (-130° C, 140 Kelvin) at night,” according to space.com – isn’t very welcoming.
So who would want to live or vacation on the giant rock that glows in the night’s sky from earth?
Raymond Clinton, 71, is one person who wishes he could.
Clinton, the deputy director of the science and technology office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, told The New York Times that humans living on the lunar surface in his lifetime is unlikely, but he is hopeful for future generations.
“I wish I would be around to see it. When we talk about a sustainable human presence, to me, that means that you have a lunar settlement and you have people living and working on the moon continuously.” Clinton, the architect behind the original sketch of housing, roads and landing pads, added, “What that could be is only up to the imagination of entrepreneurs.”
Those entrepreneurs include universities, private companies – that will be used to build doors, tiles and furniture – and ICON, known for its 3D-printing expertise on Earth.
Since 2018, Austin-based ICON has built more than 100 homes with its 3D printing system, aptly named The Vulcan, that can build a property in as little as 48 hours.
Partnering with NASA in a $60 million contract, ICON is extending its construction services to space, and building lunar properties for astronauts and average humans by 2040.
The plan is to blast a giant 3D printer to the moon, and next build additive layers of the structure using lunar concrete that’s created by rocks, fragments, and dust.
“To change the space exploration paradigm from ‘there and back again’ to ‘there to stay,’ we’re going to need robust, resilient, and broadly capable systems that can use the local resources of the moon and other planetary bodies,” said Jason Ballard, ICON co-founder and CEO.
Every component in the home, like the walls and roof, are printed separately and then connected.
And in February 2023, it will be testing its printer in NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center to see how it handles the vacuum conditions and radiation levels of space.
The infrastructure also needs to withstand extreme temperatures, radiation and micrometeorite, also known as spacerocks.
Another major component of this plan is figuring out how to operate the system on the moon.
Dr. Patrick Suermann, of Texas A&M University, is working closely with NASA to develop a robotics system capable of space construction.
Suerman said that “traveling light is critical,” because carrying materials from earth to build in space is unsustainable. “And there’s no Home Depot up there. So you either have to know how to use what’s up there, or send everything you need.” He further explained that every additional kilogram of weight carried on a rocket to the moon costs about $1,000,000.
ICON is also working with NASA to build homes on the red planet, Mars!
At the moment, NASA has not given any estimates on what it will cost to travel and stay on the moon.
It’s hard to believe that in less than 20 years, people may have the opportunity to Airbnb on the moon! Because no country has jurisdiction over the moon, it might also create new space wars!
Science and technology is so fascinating but I like living on earth. Unless Amazon delivers to a residence on the moon, I think I’ll keep my feet firmly planted on this planet.
Would you live on the moon?
Please share this story and let’s see what others have to say about potentially living on the moon!
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