European Space Agency Wants To Build ‘Lunar Village’ Using 3D Printer To Replace International Space Station

The European Space Agency has unveiled plans to create a “lunar village” by 2030. The organization says that the lunar village would be for astronauts to live in and could easily be constructed using 3D printing technology. The agency believes that a lunar space base could replace the International Space Station and be the new place that astronauts call home. In fact, it was estimated that a 3D printer could complete a building in around one week which would mean that an entire “lunar village” could be created from the moon’s soil in a very short period of time.

The Daily Mail reports that the European Space Agency is making plans to move astronauts at the International Space Station to the moon by 2030. The ambitious plans of the agency come as 3D printing technology advances. The plans, which were discussed by officials from across the globe, are to create a lunar village using the moon’s surface material which is referred to as regolith. The moon’s soil could be used by the 3D printers to create structures at a rate of one building per week.

With such quick building capabilities, the European Space Agency says they believe the project could be completed by 2030 at which point astronauts could immediately move in to their new lunar home. The lunar village, if complete, would mark the first permanent space settlement. In addition to this feat, the village could also be used to carry out a number of scientific experiments and be the “staging” grounds for future missions to other planetary bodies.

The idea of a lunar base is not new. In fact, the United States had plans of building a lunar outpost under the Bush Administration with the project expected to be completed in 2024. However, the plans were scrapped under the Obama Administration’s space policy. When the policy was being discussed in 2005, former NASA Administrator Michael Griffin noted that a lunar outpost was necessary if humanity wanted to survive in the long-term.

“The goal isn’t just scientific exploration…. It’s also about extending the range of human habitat out from Earth into the solar system as we go forward in time…. In the long run a single-planet species will not survive…. If we humans want to survive for hundreds of thousands or millions of years, we must ultimately populate other planets.”

As for the European Space Agency’s plans for the new lunar village, they seem to agree with Griffin’s stance that a moon outpost would be a great place to stage further missions into the solar system. However, in America, scientists are now also considering the possibility of colonizing an asteroid instead of the moon as a means to stage expanded space travel. Despite the conflict in deciding where to place the space colony, scientists do admit that the moon is currently the only celestial body that is attainable for human residence and that we still don’t know a lot about the celestial body despite the first human walking on the moon’s surface back in 1969.

Jan Woerner, the director general of the European Space Agency, notes that the moon is the perfect location for a scientific colony as it is a “silent archive” in our solar system that is reachable.

“For scientists, if the Earth has changed massively since its formation due to vegetation and animals, the moon constitutes a silent archive of the solar system.”

America seems to be on board with the plan for Europe to move forward with a moon colony as NASA chair Kathy Laurini says that the “timing is right” for a lunar colony to be built.

‘The ESA space-exploration strategy sets the moon as a priority destination for humans on the way to Mars. The recent talk of a ‘Moon Village’ certainly has generated a lot of positive energy in Europe. The timing is right to get started on the capabilities which allow Europe to meet its exploration objectives and ensure it remains a strong partner as humans begin to explore the solar system.”

[Image via ESA/ Foster and Partners]