Foster + Partners, the London design firm that brought us Apple’s upcoming “mothership” corporate campus have not been resting on their laurels. In fact, they’re aiming high, with their eyes on the Moon.
Building things in space is expensive for a number of reason, not the least of which is the difficulty of getting materials to the construction site. On Earth we have resources like wood and stone close at hand for building projects. So what does the moon have that could become a building (or a lunar colony)? The Moon has lots of regolith, the dusty soil that covers our nearest neighbor.
Foster + Partners, along with the European Space Agency and others, is exploring the possibility of using 3D printing technology to create a lunar base from the soil already there. The concept of creating structures with 3D printing has been proven on Earth, and may make even more sense off-Earth. Designs would employ a building block made up of hollow, closed cells, minimizing weight while giving good strength.
We can only hope the same technology that gives us plastic Yoda heads in ever increasing detail may one day put a roof over our heads somewhere on the final frontier.