Chinese scientists planning to build a 3D-printed moon house using lunar soil
As China plans to establish permanent structure on moon, its scientists are discussing ways to build houses cost-effectively.
Chinese scientists held a seminar in Wuhan on Saturday to discuss "how to build a house on the moon." The extraterrestrial construction is planned to be done with a 3D printer using moon soil.
"It will cost 200,000 US dollars to transport a bottle of mineral water to the moon." Ding Lieyun, the initiator of the first academic seminar and chief scientist of the National Digital Construction Technology Innovation Centre, said in an interview with China Science Daily. He added that the high cost means that the steel, concrete, water, and other materials necessary for extraterrestrial construction cannot be obtained from the earth and can only be constructed in situ using the natural lunar soil materials on the moon as much as possible.
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If the methods are approved, they might be used to build the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS) that China aims to build in the 2030s, space.com reported.
China's next lunar missions include Chang'e 6, which will collect samples from the far side of the moon in 2025; Chang'e 7, which will search for water ice in shadowed craters in 2026; and Chang'e 8 in 2028, which will lay the groundwork for the ILRS project.
However, construction on the moon is extremely complicated and involves high-end engineering.
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"There are about 1,000 moonquakes of magnitude 2-3 on the moon every year, as well as strong radiation from cosmic rays, solar wind, micrometeorite impacts, complex topography and geology of the lunar surface, etc., all of which make the in-situ construction of the lunar surface extremely complicated and involving multidisciplinary super engineering," Lieyun said.
It would however take at least another 20 to 30 years for plans to get implemented.
Ding discussed the latest developments in the research at his laboratory at the conference. His team earlier created the Lunar Pot Vessel, an egg-shaped moon base consisting of 3D printed moon soil bricks. They built the base using traditional Chinese construction techniques and a robot called the Chinese Super Mason. Ding compared the approach to Lego construction, which he claimed was less dangerous and more efficient than 3D printing the entire structure.