3D Printing houses on the moon: the next objective of China

The China National Space Administration (CNSA) plans to build 3D printed houses on the moon, a topic that is currently being studied by participants of the NASA challenge, especially Apis Cor, the Russian manufacturer of construction 3D printers. (Read Page 9, August issue of 3D Adept Mag)

This announcement was made during the launch of the Chang’e-5 probe, expected for the end of this year and whose aim is to bring moon samples back to Earth.

Photo taken by the lander of the Chang’e-4 probe on Jan. 11, 2019 shows the rover Yutu-2 (Jade Rabbit-2).[File photo: Xinhua]
The Chang’e-5 is a robotic Chinese lunar exploration mission that consists in a lander and a sample-return vehicle. The launch has been postponed to December 2019 due to the failure of the Long March 5 launch vehicle in 2017.

Experts are still discussing and verifying the feasibility of subsequent projects, but it’s confirmed that there will be another three missions after Chang’e-5,” said Wu Yanhua, deputy head of the CNSA, at a press conference of the State Council Information Office.

Whether the probe will land on the near side or the far side of the moon, we will make the decision according to the performance of Chang’e-5,” he said.

Even though 3D printing is being widely exploited on earth, its use in an extraterrestrial environment is still being studied. However, according to researchers, the technology seems to be the most appropriate one for construction in such type of environments. So far, the first step has been achieved: the possibility to bring and use a desktop 3D printer in the space. Experts now have to find out how to use a 3D printer designed for construction in such environment, as those 3D printers are usually larger than simple desktop 3D printers.

Furthermore, as far as materials are concerned, one advantage of construction 3D printing is the exploration of materials currently available on site.

Anyway, China, the United States, Russia and some European countries all want to explore technologies needed for such a scientific lunar base. And one of these countries will certainly give an answer to Wu’s question: “can we build houses on the moon with lunar soil using 3D printing technology?”

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