At NASA has an established objective: to create human colonies on the Moon and Mars, in the medium-long term. To this end, it has promoted not only the Artemis Program, that seeks to bring the first woman and the next man to our natural satellite, but also the Olympus Project. What specifically does the latter consist of?
NASA pays the company ICON creating a prototype 3D printed environment, that will prepare astronauts for long-term missions.
This project, who received 57 million dollars, It will serve as preparation for the construction of critical infrastructure, such as landing pads, roads, and housing. Where? On the Moon and Mars.
The contract was announced at the end of 2022, and the first step for the Texan company ICON is to find out how the lunar soil behaves under the influence of gravity. Simulated and real samples obtained by the Apollo missions will be used.
From there, ICON will build the prototype 3D printed environment.
Niki Werkheiser is head of technology maturation from NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, and explained the value of Project Olympus.
“To explore other worlds, we need new technologies tailored to those environments and our exploration needs. Driving this development with our commercial partners will create the capabilities we need for future missions.”
NASA’s Olympus Project and how it will help the human presence on the Moon and Mars
The portal Universe Magazine points out that the company ICON has already created communities in the United States and Mexico, homes and other types of infrastructure in 3D. How would this work on the Moon or on Mars, with different climates than Earth? That is the challenge.
“To thrive on the lunar surface, we must learn to ‘live off the land’ using local materials found on the Moon instead of bringing construction materials from our planet.” explains ICON.
Olympus printing technology processes local lunar regolith, the lunar dust itself, into a super-strong construction material using only energy. He then prints 3D structures with it.
“Entirely new types of architecture that are designed for additive build processes like Olympus will be required. From landing pads to habitats, these collective efforts are driven by the need to make humanity a spacefaring civilization.” added the Texan company on its portal.