3D printer using moon dust to print in space could be on the horizon

3D printers have made huge strides over the years and ideas for projects to print using them, also known as additive manufacturing, continue to become more robust and innovative. The last idea that can really make a difference using this technology is to use moon dust for buildable objects in space and to aid spaceflight over time.

NASA is testing 3D printer concept to create objects using moon dust, says Digital trends. The printer is called the Redwire Regolith Print Facility Suit and most recently the Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo spacecraft carried this printer when it arrived at International space station (ISS).

NASA is testing the company’s Redwire printing system for use in its upcoming Artemis lunar missions, in hopes of using the moon’s dusty soil (technically known as regolith) as the raw material for it. ‘impression,’ according to the report. “The idea is to use materials readily available on the moon to craft what is needed instead of having to haul a lot of heavy equipment from Earth.”

The footprint of an astronaut on the moon.

This is a huge breakthrough if you think about it and know something about space travel as it can lighten the bulk needed to be transported into space and therefore the load on a rocket or spacecraft.

If successful, this can be ideal for longer trips later to places like Mars, as this will allow the crew once they land on a planet’s surface to create raw materials using only the dust beneath. their feet. This allows them to worry less about long-term materialistic needs (to survive and make the return trip) and have room for essentials, such as fuel or equipment, on board during the flight.

It’s not that simple, however, as researchers are still figuring out issues such as whether printing can perform the same without gravity, as well as the actual strength of the materials that will be printed.

The way the test for this potential printing process works is that it uses a lunar stimulant on earth, which is similar to lunar matter. It is currently only used for small devices and accessories, but its idea could go beyond that in the realm of landing pads, foundations and even roads or lunar habitats for the astronauts inside. .

The Redwire Regolith printing facility suite, comprising the Redwire additive manufacturing facility and the lunar regolith simulation printheads, plates and raw material that are launched to the International Space Station.

Although the idea currently revolves around moon dust, the potential is much greater.

“The effects could also extend beyond Earth’s gravity. Nasa said that it develops the technology in the hope that it could eventually be used on other planets, such as crewed missions to Mars, which could use the dusty Martian soil to 3D print entire structures, ”according to the report.

This is an interesting breakthrough for this type of lunar activity and the potential to go beyond the moon, as researchers previously used lasers to experiment with the concept of printing lunar matter for various means. A system called MOONRISE has been suggested for this task, which can melt lunar material and shape the material into structures, according to a 2019 Digital Trends Report.

Spaceflight and related expeditions as well as technologies such as 3D printing continue to advance and the amalgamation of various technologies for spaceflight is only a good thing for those interested in this. which lies beyond.

Maybe the idea of ​​a lunar colony will one day turn out to be a reality with such 3D printing technology leading us in that direction? Maybe an expedition to Mars will also turn out sooner than expected? Time will tell, but 3D printing is certainly present in space.

You can find out more about Redwire website.


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