Already several space agencies and commercial companies have announced plans to fly to the moon. Unlike previous missions, the purpose of these programs is to create a full-fledged infrastructure for permanent stay on the Earth satellite. NASA, ESA, Roskosmos and the Chinese Space Agency are planning to establish bases that will allow for scientific research and ensure a constant human presence.
ESA for the first time partially showed what their home on the moon would look like. Called the International Lunar Village, the project belongs to the architects Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM). They showed one of the main components of the house – the floor. It was created using wire arc 3D printing (WAAM) technology. The process involves fusing metal wires with lasers to create lightweight metal objects with high structural strength.
The floor is like a spider web and will be part of the cover for every home that will become part of the ESA International Lunar Village. The prototype was created using a robotic stainless steel 3D printer for about 10 days (246 hours of clean printing). Its diameter is 4.5 m, and its total weight is about 395 kg.
“This is an outstanding achievement that further underscores the potential of additive manufacturing technology for an increasingly wide range of space applications. Design flexibility and the ability to combine a printed structure with embedded monitoring systems is what space exploration demands. This method can also be used to build infrastructure in place during sustainable exploration missions, for example using raw materials obtained from the lunar regolith, ”the ESA noted.
The floor component is made up of six separate segments that are printed vertically and then glued together. The 3D printed structure will be supported by three columns and covered with multiple panels.