NASA has moved one step closer to establishing colonies on the Moon and Mars using the celestial bodies’ soil, according to a new report.
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According to Universe Today, NASA’s most recent International Space Station resupply mission included a machine designed to demonstrate 3D printing regolith (loose soil or rock) on the Moon and other extraterrestrial surfaces.
To try 3D printing simulated regolith, the Redwire Regolith Print (RRP) project will collaborate with an existing printer system (ManD). If that works, the ISS crew will test the material’s strength to see if it can withstand the harsh conditions beyond Earth.
If everything goes as planned, RRP could lead to colonists printing at least some of their habitats on-demand. As a result, NASA’s supply of construction materials to the Moon and Mars may be reduced.
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For years, scientists have imagined soil-based habitats, but this test is more realistic, it’s an attempt to 3D print soil in lower gravity. While much work remains to be done, the long-term goals for Artemis and future Mars missions may become that much more attainable.