Space travel has captured the imaginations of humans for decades. Since America landed on the moon on July 16, 1969, America has been obsessed with outer space. There have been countless movies depicting what space travel would be like, but it’s remained science fiction in terms of making anything tangible happen.
Since much of the issue involves the weight of the fuel needed to get into space, anything manned obviously can’t go very far as it would be a one-way trip with no destination. That could all change if NASA is successful, and it might happen sooner than anyone could imagine.
NASA recently revealed its intention of building civilian housing on the lunar surface using 3D-printing robots and hopes to bring this to fruition by 2040. The agency is planning lunar rocket landing pads, 3D printers, concrete mixtures, construction robots, and more to build a subdivision on the moon.
NASA plans to use the soil from the surface to develop a concrete mixture to facilitate the buildings. Rachel Kraft, a senior communications specialist at NASA said: “NASA is working with international and commercial partners to develop the infrastructure needed for a long-term human presence on the Moon. This infrastructure may comprise systems including modern surface habitats, rovers, laboratory capabilities, power generation and storage, and tools and equipment.”
While it still may sound like science fiction, if NASA can figure out how to use what the moon already provides in terms of supplies, the prospect seems more like reality. Jennifer Edmunson, a lead geologist at NASA for the project, said: “The first thing that needs to happen is a proof of concept. Can we actually manipulate the soil on the lunar surface into a construction material? We need to start this development now if we’re going to realize habitats on the moon by the 2040 time frame.”
It is estimated that it costs $1 million dollars for every kilogram of weight on a moon-bound rocket, so using as much as possible on the lunar surface is crucial. Patrick Suermann, a professor at Texas A&M University who is working with NASA on the project, said: “Chemistry is the same up there, but physics are different. There’s no Home Depot up there. So you either have to know how to use what’s up there, or send everything you need.”
Before any construction begins, NASA intends to send astronauts to orbit the moon in 2024, with a goal of landing on the lunar surface in 2025. So, what is the point of putting a human colony on the moon?
Ultimately, America wants to reach Mars with humans and to do that, some time on the moon will be necessary as a launching point. Rachel Kraft said: “Whenever possible, as part of the agency’s Moon to Mars approach, these lunar systems will be developed as pathfinders for future Mars missions.”
If humans can live and work on the moon and create a launching spot for a future Mars mission, it would likely stand a much better chance of success, considering a launch wouldn’t have to fight gravity on the lunar surface.
It is going to be a massive undertaking and ultimately may remain science fiction, but if there is ever going to be a mission to explore the viability of Mars as a habitable planet for humans, it will start from our own moon.
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