Research, Technology

NASA to build roads on the moon for $57 million

In the coming decades, the aerospace agencyNASA intends to rapidly explore the moon. The Artemis space program on the return of astronauts to the surface of the earth's satellite has already begun. It is expected that in 2025 people will again begin to walk on the moon - in the future they will ride on it inside a special vehicle. As we know, the lunar surface is full of bumps, so walking and even more so driving on it will be difficult. To remedy the situation, NASA recently awarded a $57 million contract to construction firm ICON, which is best known for making 3D-printed residential buildings. So, in the near future, roads may appear on the Moon - how and from what materials will they be made?

NASA wants to build roads on the moon

Roads will appear on the surface of the moon

The appearance of roads on the moon seems to be somethingfantastic, but NASA is clearly serious. The contract signed with ICON runs until 2028, which means that construction should begin in the foreseeable future. But first, the company needs to develop a plan, following which the roads will be laid. They need to decide what materials will be used and what the process will look like.

This is what the roads on the moon will look like according to the Midjourney neural network

Material for building roads on the moon

Engage in sending building materials to the moonnobody wants it because it's hard and expensive. Therefore, NASA and ICON believe that roads should be made from lunar soil. In 2021, the agency has already shared information that it wants to use regolith as a raw material for 3D printers. As part of the Redwire Regolith Print (RRP) project, scientists have already sent a device of the same name to the ISS to check print quality in zero gravity.

Redwire Regolith Print System

Messages that printed from the moonsoil objects collapsed, no - this means that the regolith must be suitable for road construction. In extreme cases, experts will find a component that can be added to the solution and increase the strength of the material.

See also: Why NASA sent LEGO figures and other toys to the moon

Printing roads on a 3D printer

NASA and ICON already have a lot of experience in 3D printing.Therefore, roads on the Moon will be built using the same technology. What equipment will be needed for this is unknown. Perhaps the same large 3D printers that are used to build houses today will be used - they apply material in layers until the desired structure is obtained. You can see the process of printing at home using a 3D printer below.

Printing at home on a 3D printer

ICON is serious and is about totest equipment in low gravity conditions. It is possible that the existing equipment will need to be slightly modified - it may turn out that in zero gravity it works differently. Also, specialists from a construction company are studying the properties of lunar soil. This is necessary to understand how it behaves - maybe other components will need to be added to its composition to increase strength.

ICON specialists will have to carefully study the properties of the lunar regolith

According to ICON CEO JasonBallard (Jason Ballard), the result of the contract between them and NASA will be the first building on the moon. It will be almost as important an event in the history of mankind as sending people to another planet. After all, today people have never been engaged in construction outside the Earth. We have already sent research vehicles to the Moon and continue to do so, but there is still not a single tiny house and not even a patch of road. The situation may change in the coming years. Roads on the moon are unlikely to be visible from Earth, because they will be gray, like the surface of the satellite. But these sections will be much stronger and smoother, making it easier for astronauts to move around the terrain. Considering that a base is planned to be built on the Moon, this is a very important job.

It seems that the first human construction outside the Earth will be a road

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All in all, we have a lot of things to look forward to in the future.interesting. Not only will we be able to look at the return of people to the moon in 2025, but there are also plans to build roads there. About whether astronauts will be able to live and work outside the Earth in 10 years, my colleague Lyubov Sokovikova recently told - detailed material was obtained, which I recommend reading to everyone, here is the link. You will learn not only about the plans of the United States, but also the intentions of other countries in terms of the exploration of the moon.