When it was a Northrop Grumman cargo spacecraft Arriving at the International Space Station (ISS) This week I retrieved a very special instrument from Earth: a 3D printer that uses lunar dust to make a solid.
NASA is testing the Redwire printing system for use on the upcoming Artemis lunar missions, hoping to use dusty lunar soil (technically known as Regolith) as a print raw material. The idea is to use materials readily available on the Moon to do whatever it takes instead of having to haul a bunch of heavy equipment all the way from Earth.
Engineers have thought about how to do it 3D printing using lunar regolith For a while they demonstrated the process on the ground. But sending a 3D printer to the International Space Station’s microgravity environment for testing is a big new step in getting the technology ready for use. The researchers want to know if printing works without gravity and how powerful the printing is.
The printer works by simulating the moon – a man-made compound of a substance chemically similar to lunar regolith – because real samples of the moon are very precious and rare. But the simulator must be close enough to real lunar material to test the 3D-printed devices. The activator is used as a raw material, processed and fed into a printer to be printed into usable parts and dies.
route Says In addition to using small fixtures and fittings, this approach could eventually be used to print larger and more complex parts such as landing pads, foundations, roads, and even lunar habitats for astronauts to live inside.
The effects can also extend beyond Earth’s gravity. NASA Says They are developing the technology with the hope that it will eventually be used on other planets, such as for manned flights to Mars, which could benefit from the dusty Martian soil. 3D printing of complete installations.
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