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Lunar Construction: Scientists Know How to Build with Moon Soil
June 12, 2017 10:37

Scientists of the Samara State Technical University are developing a robot that will make building materials on the Moon.
While apple trees are not going to blossom on the Mars any soon, the Earthmen are planning to render the Moon habitable in the near future, and not only because it is much closer to us. On the Earth's natural satellite, there is a lot of iron, titanium, aluminum, magnesium, sulfur, sodium and even the helium-3 isotope, which may be used as fuel for thermonuclear reactors someday.
Samara scientists have already developed and produced edible cosmic packaging, and now they are engineering a robot for the production of building materials on the Moon.
Protect the Moon
Several countries, in particular Russia, the United States, Britain, China, and Japan have already announced plans to build stations on the Moon. It is reported that inhabited research stations can be created on the Moon in the 2030s - 2040s. However, for future lunar colonies it will be necessary to erect constructions that will protect the modules delivered from the Earth from external threats, such as, for example, micrometeorites attacking the Moon surface at the speed of 100,000 km / h. That is, the base module has to be sheltered in something like a hangar.
On a lunar construction site, an ordinary brick not to mention concrete blocks will be as precious as gold due to the complexity and distance of delivery. So, building materials must be made right on the Moon. This is why the Samara State Technical University is working on a project for the production of artificial stones from the Moon soil, the so-called regolith.
3D Printer for Sintering Lunar Bricks
According to the ​​scientists’ concept, the lunar "bricks" can be made by means of a special robotic complex based on the 3D printer technology running on solar energy. Such a "printer" - heliolithograph - will automatically sinter the collected lunar soil into solid stones with the help of a focused sunlight beam.
"The work on this project is now very intense in our university. The helilithograph design is ready and provided with technical documentation. Now we are to make a pilot model," says Dmitry Bykov, rector of the Samara State Technical University.
The working pilot model of the robotic complex is planned to be manufactured before the end of 2018. Samara scientists will be assisted by the Lavochkin Research and Production Association, which "has a tremendous engineering potential", according to the project authors.
“The agreement is ready and I hope that we will sign it and start cooperating soon” – Mr.  Bykov said.
The idea of ​​devices running on the solar energy has already been tested on the Earth - various objects were "successfully baked" from the sand by means of a 3D printer in the desert. However, the lunar heliolithograph will be much more complicated by design - after all, it is much more complicated to make bricks on the Moon without human control than in the terrestrial desert.
Edible Space Wrapper
Another interesting project of the Samara Technical University may also find application in space exploration and mastering the Moon, although this development will be very useful on the Earth anyway. This is about edible wrapping material for cosmic food.
"We intended to create a pack in which you can store and heat up food, and then eat the wrapper itself along with food. Different packing is inconvenient in the outer space, since it is difficult to dispose of” – the project manager Nadezhda Makarova, head of the Public Catering Technology Department of the Samara Technical University explained.

In the world, there are several examples of such an edible food pack. However, artificial chemical compounds are used when it is manufactured abroad. The product made in Samara is from natural ingredients only.


Author: Vera Ivanova

Tags: Moon Space Exploration 3D Printer Solar Energy  

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