A NASA-backed project could 3D print bases on the moon. Thus, space settlements would not be so dependent on supplies from Earth.
NASA is working on this project and wants the new technology to be able to build bases on the moon. The agency recently selected a project by Relativity Space (which is working on 3D printed rockets) that could detect and deploy 3D printing in real time.
If the production of a piece of habitat or radiation shield goes wrong, the technology could automatically identify the mistakes and fix them. It can also determine if a print is viable or fully functional.
What this grand NASA project means
This is the first phase of the project and there are still details to be worked out. NASA is giving Relativity Space $125,000 over six months to continue its work. This successful project could mean a lot not just for space exploration, but for manufacturing in space.
Settlers on the Moon, Mars and beyond can reduce their dependence on supplies from Earth, knowing they can reliably print parts using local soil. This could also help with 3D printing in general.
Independent of NASA, China has managed to reach the dark side of the moon, and now it has revealed plans that show the state also wants to build a base on the satellite. Officials from CNSA, the Chinese space agency, claimed they would build a lunar base using 3D printing technology. China is in talks with the Americans, the Russians and the Europeans, with a view to building a 3D printed lunar base.
The Chinese seem to be quite proud of their success, which has been heavily praised in the national media. And the rest of the world has been watching them from the very beginning. It remains to be seen how many of the Chinese's next space ambitions will materialize.