NASA recently contributed approximately $1.8 million o support a project $14.5 million project with ICON a dual-use Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR). This will help expand the 3D printing of livable and workable structures as well explore commonalities between Earth-based and off-Earth applications. U.S. Air Force awarded said project to ICON.
NASA actually wants to send human beings back to the Moon as soon as possible, and while those known early crewed missions will be focused on getting there, conducting necessary research, and leaving, the US space agency still envisions a future where human beings can have more permanent settlements up on the moon as soon as possible.
NASA partners with ICON
This is why NASA has partnered with a company known as ICON in order to develop fast and easy construction up on the Moon. ICON is actually best known for the popular 3D printing tech which it utilizes in order to rapidly build certain homes on Earth. The idea is actually that ICON will be able to adapt this technology under certain harsher conditions just like the Moon's very own surface. NASA is said to be paying a total of $1.8 million to ICON in order to develop these 3D printed habitat technology that could later on be sent to the Moon and even maybe beyond.
NASA’s Game Changing Development program within the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate provided the funding to help advance capabilities under its Moon to Mars Planetary Autonomous Construction Technologies (MMPACT) project.
In an article by BGR, it was stated that building things over in space is quite challenging but building certain things on a whole nother world is definitely something that has never been done before. It is also stated to be not as simple as just sending normal building materials to space and using them since this would be really costly.
3D printed houses are more practical for space
3D printing on a much larger scale is a more practical way of doing construction, especially if this can be done on the moon's surface. There has already been a significant amount of investment dedicated to this research and the possibility of it being done on the moon. Research includes studying the landscape and actual surface of the Moon in order to engineer structures that can stick to the surface with a limited amount of gravity.
As far as ICON's concern, the company's very own mission is quite straightforward, adapting its current technology to work in the sort of vacuum environment space under quite extremely harsh conditions. The company has also produced a short video that explains just how it's tracking the whole monumental task and calls the whole mission Project Olympus.
Today, NASA is actually working with ICON, a 3D printing technologies company that is located in Austin, Texas, for the early research and development stage of the whole space-based construction system that could possibly support the future exploration of both the Moon and Mars.
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Written by Urian Buenconsejo