NASA engineers are one step ahead in using technology to test materials on the moon. In a recent study, Northrop Grumman Sygnus carried a 3D printer that uses moon dust to make solid material and reached the International Space Station (ISS).
According to the report by Universe Today, as part of the Redwire Regolith Print (RRP) project, the agency sent a 3D printer to the International Space Station (ISS) to use readily available materials on the moon to make what is needed, rather than hauling it around need a lot of heavy equipment all the way from earth.
Redwire Regolith Print tests 3D printing with simulated regolith (loose rock and earth on the surfaces of planetary bodies). The results could help determine the feasibility of regolith as a raw material and 3D printing as a construction technique for future space missions. pic.twitter.com/MIYq2z5smw
– ISS Research (@ISS_Research) August 10, 2021
The space agency said that RRP was designed to enable the use of regolith, including dust, boulders, and other materials found on the surface of alien objects, for the on-demand construction of lunar structures. The project was started with the 3D printer Made In Space Manufacturing Device (ManD), which was already on board the ISS.
NASA said, “The primary objective of the printing operations is to successfully demonstrate the ability of the manufacturing process in microgravity. The secondary objective of the printing operations is to produce samples of material for scientific analysis.”
Considering regolith-based 3D printing in weightlessness to further advance future missions to the moon and Mars, NASA said, “Such technology could eventually be used to create habitats, landing sites and other structures for future exploration missions in the field to build.” Materials, instead of having to bring all the raw materials for such a construction “.
NASA further explained the use of 3D printing projects on the earth’s surface and informed: “Development of an infrastructure to improve the quality of life in remote and undeveloped areas and emergency construction work on site during the response to natural disasters.”
The Redwire Regolith Print Project
Michael Snyder, Redwire’s Chief Technology Officer, explained the project, saying, “The Redwire Regolith Print Project is a tech demo of additive manufacturing in orbit using regolith simulation of feedstock”.
Snyder continued, “This represents a critical step in developing sustainable manufacturing capabilities for lunar surfaces that will ultimately establish a permanent human presence outside of the earth by using available resources with adaptive systems. So this is really exciting for the future and hopefully something like this will be used on the moon at some point. “
(Image credit: TWITTER)