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NASA Mars Moon The Almighty Buck Build Technology

NASA Announces the 3D Printed Habitat Challenge For Moon and Mars Bases 46

An anonymous reader writes: Space policy experts are still arguing where American astronauts should go once they venture into deep space. However, there is widespread agreement that once they get there they should be prepared to stay for longer than just a few hours or days, as was the case during the Apollo missions to the moon. Taking all the material to set up habitats, the astronauts' homes away from home, would tend to be expensive. Toward the end of lowering the cost of long duration space travel, NASA has announced the 3D Printed Habitat Challenge, in partnership with America Makes, as part of the ongoing Centennial Challenge program.
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NASA Announces the 3D Printed Habitat Challenge For Moon and Mars Bases

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  • The printer will have to do its thing up there. Just add water.

    • The printer will have to do its thing up there. Just add water.

      An example of 3D Concrete Printing [youtube.com].

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Wait, scratch that. The majority of the dwellings will need to be underground to avoid the radiation. Instead of a 3D printer, take a tunnel boring machine.

      • Thanks. Whenever I read all these fantasies about space colonization and long-term space travel, I ask what they'll do about radiation, which never seems to be mentioned.
        • From what I understand the radiation dangers have been overstated at least in some cases. Radiation on Mars for example has been shown to be not all that dissimilar from Low Earth Orbit where we have had astronauts for decades with no major ill effects (besides bone loss which isn't radiation related). Now radiation shelters will be necessary since without our thick humid atmosphere most locations would be more susceptible to solar storms and most habitats/living/working quarters should probably be built un

          • by delt0r ( 999393 )
            Yea and how about getting there in the first place. You going to put meters of radiation shielding on that mas ship? The only thing i have seen so far, is just accept the fact they will all probably get cancer, or just all die if a CME hits them.
            • Radiation levels as recorded by Curiosity on the trip were only double that of either LEO or Mars, while definitely not good even without additional shielding you're probably not looking at too much additional cancer risk. Putting significant amounts of radiation shielding around one small area of the craft where the crew is likely to spend most of their time (the cockpit, sleeping quarters?) would easily bring the trip exposure levels down to something a little more reasonable. With ZERO additional shiel

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Living underground covers it. In fact, the Moon and Mars already have lava tubes [nasa.gov] and caves, so no large scale excavation needed.

      • Wait, scratch that. The majority of the dwellings will need to be underground to avoid the radiation. Instead of a 3D printer, take a tunnel boring machine.

        Excellent idea, very well known in Special Forces for example, but not what NASA wants for its "3-D Printed Habitat Challenge".

      • Wait, scratch that. The majority of the dwellings will need to be underground to avoid the radiation. Instead of a 3D printer, take a tunnel boring machine.

        You can't make everything you need out of holes. Your tunnels will need doors, partitions, tables, etc., etc. No IKEA on Mars and the shipping charges are horrendous. There are lots of things besides main structural walls to be made.

  • for the disadvantaged everywhere.
  • The dummies were supposed to use the shuttle tanks. We all remember what Skylab was made from. Oh well...

  • Actual science bang for your buck. Unless the motivation is "humans on Mars because we can!" Which is cool, just don't call it science.

  • NASA needs a 3D printer for pork.

    • Imagine that!

      In what an enlightened kleptocracy we would live in if our Congressional pork were squandered

      on space exploration and science!

  • Materials? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ArcadeMan ( 2766669 ) on Sunday May 17, 2015 @12:58PM (#49711717)

    3D printing habitats on Mars and on the moon... okay, I'm guessing something similar to what's currently being done with concrete, but what about the materials? How are people supposed to make "Mars/moon concrete" for their tests? Also, printing with a different gravity will change a lot of parameters and how the layers interact with each other, curing speed with air vs in a vacuum, solar rays on earth vs Mars/moon, etc.

    There's way too many variables that are completely different for such a challenge to represent what will actually happen.

  • The next step is to realize that we should be sending a robotic mission with this stuff a few years earlier. That way whenever the first people get there, they'll find a cleared landing field and radio guidance towers, as well as a place to stay after they debark.

    Of course the fly in the ointment is that you send robots and have them spend a few years building your base. Then someone else comes in before you and claims "rights of salvage" over all of that "abandoned property" they just found.

  • For the life of me I can't understand why everyone wants to keep insisting we load everything on a ship with the astronauts and send it all there at once and HOPE nothing goes wrong along the way that kills everyone.

    Instead, how about this: we send automated "builder" ships to Mars with a mission to excavate pits in the Martian surface, place inflatable habitats [wikipedia.org] in them, inflate them, then cover them with enough soil to protect against radiation. Monitor the damned things to make sure they're working prop

  • What if other methods are better? Why assume that 3D printing is even relevant given that even on earth you cannot use cured in situ concrete in many environments because the temperature and or atmospheric pressure interfere with the chemistry? So what does that leave, forms of 3D printing involving laser sintering, where is all the energy going to come from to do that on a large scale? Can we assume a fusion reactor will be available in a package that can be delivered to Mars by the time building needs to
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