Source – gizadeathstar.com
- “…the article is letting us know what “phase one” is. But there is a phase two that the article hints at, and it is this which really caught my eye:…To change the space exploration paradigm from ‘there and back again’ to ‘there to stay,’ we’re going to need robust, resilient and broadly capable systems that can use the local resources of the moon and other planetary bodies,” Jason Ballard, ICON co-founder and CEO, said. “The final deliverable of this contract will be humanity’s first construction on another world, and that is going to be a pretty special achievement.”
SM:….Apparently, the contract has been tied-up with cost overruns & delays over the issue of bicycle lanes…..
3D PRINTING SCRAPBOOK: NASA AWARDS CONTRACT TO BUILD ROADS ON THE MOON
Yes you read that headline correctly, and incidentally, this article was spotted by our friend Catherine Austin Fitts, so when you read a headline like that, in an article passed along by Ms. Fitts, the article tends to vault immediately into the finals folder, as this one did.
According to the article, NASA is planning on heavy utilization of 3D printing to build out infrastructure on the Moon:
In an effort to meet this need, NASA awarded ICON—an advanced construction technology company best known for 3-D printed homes—a $57.2 million contract to develop construction technologies to build infrastructure on the moon—including landing pads, habitats and roads. The contract goes through 2028.
Tuesday’s contract is under Phase III of NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research program. It is a continuation of a prior SBIR dual-use contract with the Air Force, which NASA partially funded. The award will fund ICON’s Project Olympus to engage in research and development for space-based construction systems to support further space exploration.
“In order to explore other worlds, we need innovative new technologies adapted to those environments and our exploration needs,” Niki Werkheiser, director of technology maturation in NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, said. “Pushing this development forward with our commercial partners will create the capabilities we need for future missions.”
The new award will help ICON’s Olympus construction system, “which is designed to use local resources on the moon and Mars as building materials,” according to the announcement.
ICON will use a lunar gravity simulation flight to bring its technology into space. The company will also utilize samples of lunar regolith—a layer of debris covering the moon’s surface—to examine their behavior in simulated lunar gravity; this will help inform construction approaches. ICON noted that the technology “will help establish the critical infrastructure necessary for a sustainable lunar economy including, eventually, longer term lunar habitation.”
I hope the reader has caught the massive change in NASA’s long term approach to the Moon. As recently as a couple of decades ago, most public thought about the construction of permanent humanly-populated bases on the Moon had us dragged stuff “up there” from “down here”, an enormously costly – and slow – process if one is relying on chemical rockets and a mix of humans and robots to assemble and build it. There were variations on the them, with building a space station in lunar orbit to haul stuff from “down here”, assemble it on the space station, and then land it on the Moon.
If one digs and scratches around long enough, one will encounter the odd project from the late 1950s and early 1960s for lugging nuclear plasma tunneling machines to the Moon to have them melt-bore underground tunnels on the planet for human bases.
Most of these projects were based on the “go-and-return” capabilities of the day.
Now NASA has focused on 3D printing and using available lunar materials, and is planning a series of low-gravity tests of such equipment using such materials, to see if it can, indeed, be done. This will be done in low-g flight tests and has already been done on the international space station with 3D printing tests in near-zero gravity. But the Moon is a special environment: it has gravity, just not as much as the Earth. So the article is letting us know what “phase one” is. But there is a phase two that the article hints at, and it is this which really caught my eye:
“To change the space exploration paradigm from ‘there and back again’ to ‘there to stay,’ we’re going to need robust, resilient and broadly capable systems that can use the local resources of the moon and other planetary bodies,” Jason Ballard, ICON co-founder and CEO, said. “The final deliverable of this contract will be humanity’s first construction on another world, and that is going to be a pretty special achievement.”
I rather suspect that Mr. Ballard’s comment here is meant to say as much about the phases of the current (and very likely any immediately succeeding) contract, as it is about a fanciful long term goal. In other words, if the flight-test low-g trials with lunar materials in a 3D printing format are successful, the next, and most important proof-of-concept test will be to land an automatic probe on the lunar surface, and have it actually test build a small bit of “infrastructure,” say, a 3D-printed clear dome along with a water supply, to test grow a crop of plants on the Moon itself, thereby stacking functions and killing two birds with one stone (it has already been demonstrated that plants can grow in lunar soil. It just has not been done on the Moon itself.) So what the flight-test is more than like to be is a test of design concepts for 3D printers in low-g environments, tests needed if one is to design such a probe to go “up there and build something.” Included in that package on that probe will probably be a variety of sensors designed to show how well the structure stands up to lunar conditions, and the constant bombardment by micro-meteoric dust particles. It might even be designed to do ordinary repairs and maintenance on the structure.
Time will tell, of course, but the bottom line for me, if my high octane speculation and analysis of this story is correct, is that the thinking behind the contract – howsoever fanciful the story may sound – is at least correct, and thinking through problems in a detailed and necessary fashion. Time will tell if the 3D printing technology is the answer to the problems NASA is trying to solve.
See you on the flip side…
Joseph P. Farrell has a doctorate in patristics from the University of Oxford, and pursues research in physics, alternative history and science, and “strange stuff”. His book The Giza DeathStar, for which the Giza Community is named, was published in the spring of 2002, and was his first venture into “alternative history and science”.