'It's time to go back... and stay this time'. This is the motto of the company that will be manufacturing long-term shelters on the Moon over the next few years. Indeed, for NASA and the world's other space agencies, it's no longer a question of spending a short time on the Earth's natural satellite, but rather of building bases to enable astronauts and, why not, customers to stay there.
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Using lunar soil as a raw material
If you want to construct a building or any other object off-earth, the problem is raw materials. Every kilogram of payload transported from Earth costs an astronomical sum. So, for reasons of cost and space, we have to find other solutions.
And ICON thinks it's found it: the company has landed a contract with NASA in 2022, and plans to build lunar shelters from... lunar soil. In fact, ICON is already building houses in Texas using its 3D printing technology, which enables it to build houses in 48 hours, and which it plans to adapt on the Moon, this time using lunar regolith as a raw material. This concept could also be used on Mars in the future.
When will these lunar shelters see the light of day?
For the moment, this project is only at the prototype stage, but NASA hopes to see these lunar homes by 2040. Surprisingly, they won't just be for astronauts, but also for potential future (and wealthy) customers, who will be able to travel to the moon while remaining safe from the many dangers of space travel. Enthusiastic about the idea of human beings one day staying on the Moon, NASA's Raymond Clinton declared:
I'd like to be there to see it. When we talk about a lasting human presence, to me that means that there is a lunar colony and that people live and work permanently on the Moon. What that might be depends solely on the imagination of entrepreneurs.
This article has been translated from Gentside FR.
Earth.com: NASA plans to build a house on the moon and will allow civilians to visit