Sunday, July 10, 2011

What does 3D printing and exploration of Moon have in common?

A lot.

There's a second Moon race going on, among (at least) China, Russia, India, and EU. But the whole concept of getting "man" back to the Moon has kept me thinking. Isn't it an era already where robots can be doing much more, and much cheaper. I think so.

Now, the work robots should be doing on the Moon is for example Helium-3 extraction (see for example this documentary for "why?"). So how to do that?

Machines that build machines

That is precisely what 3D printers are, and based on this video plain desert sand will do as a raw material.

Now, instead of sending dedicated Helium-3 harvesting machines from here to the Moon, figure out a way to harness the solar power to build those machines in-situ - and download the blueprints.

Heck - once "factories" (ehem - regolith-printers) are up and running, one can even download new build instructions to them. Have all the necessary parts waiting for you, on Lunar surface, when the people arrive. And only the printer needed to be sent.

Beautiful, isn't it?  :)

With this approach, multiple factory sites can be established in different maturity levels. Some would enter production while others would be only "seeded". Exploration of the Moon becomes akin to gardening.

...and the year is?  That depends on us. Progress is not something that happens by stating a year. It needs a lot of hard work to proceed. All I'm saying is that hard work would better be used on 3D lunar printing experiments. With or without human involvement in the picture.


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