NASA is one step closer to creating colonies on the Moon and Mars using the soil of celestial bodies. Universe Today notes that NASA’s latest resupply mission to the International Space Station included an apparatus designed to demonstrate 3D printing from regolith (i.e. loose soil or rock) on the Moon and similar extraterrestrial surfaces.
The Redwire Regolith Print Project (RRP) will work in tandem with an existing printer system (ManD) to test 3D printing simulated regolith. If successful, the ISS crew will test the strength of the resulting material in outer space to see if it can withstand the harsh conditions outside of Earth.
If all goes well, the RRP could result in colonists printing at least some of their dwellings as needed. This, in turn, could reduce the amount of building materials that NASA delivers to the Moon and Mars. Scientists have imagined habitats based on local soil for years, but this test is relatively realistic – it is an attempt to 3D print from soil under reduced gravity. While there is still a lot of work to be done, the long-term goals of Artemis and future missions to Mars may become more attainable.