If humanity is going to 3D-print Moon bases, it can’t afford for things to go wrong — and NASA is backing technology to make sure those parts get built. According to Parabolic Arc, the agency recently selected a project from Relativity Space (which is working on 3D-printed rockets) that could detect and fix 3D printing in real-time.
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If the production of a habitat piece or radiation shield goes awry, the technology could automatically catch defects and repair them, determine if a print is still viable or even scrap work entirely.
This is the first phase of the project, and there are still details to address. NASA is giving Relativity Space $125,000 over six months to further its work.
A successful project could mean a lot for not just space exploration, but production as a whole. Settlers on the Moon, Mars, and beyond could reduce their dependence on Earth supplies knowing they could reliably print parts using the local soil.
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This could also help with general 3D printing. You wouldn’t have to worry as much about flaws that could force you to toss out your creations.