NASA has come one step closer to building lunar and Mars colonies from the earth of the celestial bodies. Universe Today notes that NASA’s latest replenishment mission to the International Space Station included a machine designed to demonstrate the 3D printing of regolith (i.e., loose earth or rock) on the moon and similar alien surfaces.
The Redwire Regolith Print (RRP) project will work with an existing printer system (ManD) to test 3D printing simulated regolith. If successful, the ISS crew will measure the strength of the resulting material to see if it can withstand the harsh conditions beyond Earth.
If all goes well, the EIA could result in colonists printing at least some of their habitats on demand. That, in turn, could reduce the volume of building materials NASA brings to the Moon and Mars. Scientists have envisioned soil-based habitats for years, but this test is relatively realistic – it’s an attempt to 3D print earth with lower gravity. While there is still much to be done, the long-term goals for Artemis and future Mars missions may be much more achievable.
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