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European Space Agency Announces Plans To Build A 'Moon village' By 2030

A conference of 200 scientists, engineers and industry experts have recently deduced that the planned Moon Village, which would be built by 3D printers, could help mankind to explore the galaxy. Officials from the European Space Agency announced last month at a conference ‘International Symposium on Moon 2020-2030’, held in the Netherlands that this 3D printed village could house the astronauts in the next decade. NASA’s Kathy Laurini said “The ESA space-exploration strategy marks the moon as the prime destination on the way to the red planet Mars. The timing is right to start on the capabilities which allow Europe to meet its exploration objectives and ensure it remains a strong partner as humans begin to explore the Solar System”.
Image Source: ESA/Foster + Partners

If the ESA can get the Moon village working, it will lessen the cost in exploring the solar system. A moon based refueling system can reduce the cost of sending astronauts to Mars by as much as $ 10 billion per year. Moreover, MIT scientists estimated that we could launch the astronauts from Earth with up to 68% less mass. The construction phase will start somewhere around 2020. ESA has been working with different architects and scientists on the idea to use 3D printing to fabricate the lunar buildings with appropriate material since 2013. But now they have finalized that the regolith or lunar soil is suitable material for construction and as it would require to carry less heavy propellant into space since it would be able to fill up its tanks at the lunar surface facility.

The founder of UK manufacturing company, Monolite, Enrico Dini suggested that how would it work. He said “First of all, we needed to mix the regolith with magnesium oxide. This turns it into 'paper' we can print with. Then for structural ink we need to add a binding salt which converts this material into a stone-like solid”. 

He added that 3D printers can produce between 6.5ft and 11ft (2 meters and 3.5 meters) of material an hour, meaning an entire structure could be produced in a week.

An engineer Clive Neal from the University of Notre Dame said "We still need to confirm that the lunar resources can be used, in fact, they are reserves. We need to verify the ground realities of deposit size, composition, form and homogeneity requires a coordinated prospecting program.

A successful program would then clearly demonstrate that lunar resources can enable solar system exploration."

Whether the ESA’s plan works or not, NASA is intended to take its astronauts to orbit in space.

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