Of all the possible applications of 3D printing, medical appliance is obviously the most inspiring but most exciting? Well, it’s got to be 3D printing’s implications in space exploration.
Despite the futuristic visions of our science fiction Mars based habitats, space exploration has become a strangely retro. NASA retired the Space Shuttle in 2011 after 30 years and toured it around the U.S. on a float like a D-Day veterans parade. But in 2013, just like Arnie, space exploration is back! Iran started by dragging us back to the dark ages of space exploration, firing a primate into space and, successfully or unsuccessfully, depending on whom you believe, returning it. Elon Musk’s SpaceX then rocketed us right back to the future with the second successfull privately contracted spaceflight, which docked with the International Space Station just two days ago.
So if all of that milky-way fascination is your bag and you have a penchant for 3D printing then our headline will blow your mind: GIANT NASA SPIDER ROBOTS TO 3D PRINT LUNAR BASES!
Now, the following things are exciting about that statement: Giant, Nasa, Spider, Robots, 3D Print and Lunar bases. That leaves us with one word, one that’s slightly misleading as well as not being an exciting word, that is ‘to’, more accurately it should be ‘might’ or ‘could’. What is true is that space architects Tomas Rousek, Katarina Eriksson and Dr. Ondrej Doule and Richard Rieber have collaborated to form the SinterHab project, a design study that uses 3D printing technology to build a Lunar South Pole outpost using in-situ material.
What that rather complex statement basically breaks down to is pretty close to GIANT NASA SPIDER ROBOTS COULD 3D PRINT LUNAR BASES. These “Giant NASA Spider Robots”, which are a combination of two existing NASA robots ATHLETE and ROVER, would use a 3D printing technique not dissimilar to that of D-Shape’s pre-existing building process, binding the lunar soil with microwaves (this binding process can be done in a domestic microwave, getting your hands on lunar soil may be tricky though) to build a lunar base. Oh, and one last bit of tech thrown in for good measure, it would all be done using solar power. This is one ecologically closed-loop system.
Ambitious in the extreme one may say, but the fact that all the technology pre-exists and what with the folks at SpaceX privately contracting spaceflight plus Virgin getting serious about their Galactic service we could be alive to pen this Personalize headline:
“GIANT NASA SPIDER ROBOT CUTS-RIBBON FOR FIRST 3D PRINTED MOON HOUSE”