Architects Foster + Partners has released plans for a 3D-printed moon base that will be constructed using ‘regolith’ or lunar soil. Designed in partnership with the European Space Agency, the lunar homes will have space for up to four and will feature a hard printed shell to shield the inhabitants from the brutal elements of space.
Working with an army of engineers, the architects have already constructed a 1.5-ton scale mockup, which they built in a vaccuum chamber to simulate space conditions. The team used a D-Shape printer—the largest 3D printer in the world—to print and test the material strength of the design. They devised a “hollow closed cellular structure” that proved sufficiently strong while reducing the amount of material needed for printing.
“As a practice, we are used to designing for extreme climates on earth and exploiting the environmental benefits of using local, sustainable materials – our lunar habitation follows a similar logic,” says Xavier De Kestelier of Foster + Partners. “It has been a fascinating and unique design process, which has been driven by the possibilities inherent in the material. We look forward to working with ESA and our consortium partners on future research projects.”