If we want to construct a colony on the Moon, we’re going to need something to build it with. Unfortunately, Amazon doesn’t deliver off-world — yet — and it currently costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to send even a one-pound payload to the lunar surface.
That means if we want to avoid spending untold sums on shipping costs, we’ll need to figure out a way to make use of the materials we can find on the lunar surface — and a new proposal suggests Moon dust melted with lasers might do the trick.
This proposal is called the MOONRISE project, and it’s a collaboration between the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V., a nonprofit research institute focused on photonics and laser technology, and the Institute of Space Systems, which designs and analyzes spacecraft and space missions for Germany’s space agency.
The plan is to use a laser system that weighs less than 6.6 pounds to melt the dust, soil, and loose rock covering the lunar surface, transforming it into a material astronauts could then use as the “ink” in a 3D printer to build the components of a lunar outpost.
The organizations plan to enlist German-based space company PTScientists to deliver their tech to the Moon in 2021 — meaning we could know the viability of the system in just two short years.
READ MORE: MOONRISE: Bringing 3D-printing to the moon / Melting moon dust with the laser [Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V.]
More on regolith: Scientists Are 3D Printing Fake Moon Dust Into Useful Objects