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Thread: NASA 3D-printed Mars habitat - GIF

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    That must be some strong, light weight material but the space to transport that much goo to extrude (3-d print) habitats would appear to be better used for lightweight panels that would be more structurally sound, easier to assemble and faster to set up. One good Martian wind gust could put it out of alignment and might require a lot of babysitting in a hostile environment.

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    Not having researched this project at all, my guess would be the intent was to use local material so they only have to transport the machine. Then they can make as many different structures as needed on site. Using local sand/soil and if they can find water then they would only have to transport the binder. Of course they have to transport and set up a "mix plant" locally as well.

    At this stage, probably more a proof of concept thing than a real plan for actual deployment. Very interesting, none the less. It probably has some practical application here on earth if it can be made economically feasible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hoosiersmoker View Post
    That must be some strong, light weight material but the space to transport that much goo to extrude (3-d print) habitats would appear to be better used for lightweight panels that would be more structurally sound, easier to assemble and faster to set up. One good Martian wind gust could put it out of alignment and might require a lot of babysitting in a hostile environment.
    I am thinking that like you say the hostile environment issue could be solvable by having a traveling cover much like we used on pipeline welding where a kind of tent enveloped the work area blocking off the worst of the outside air currents. Remember while Mars does have some atmosphere it is many times thinner than here on Earth the winds can reach 135MPH but the pressure is not a lot greater than the rapid exhale of your breath. The contamination from dust would be the greatest concern. The next item would be the material used for construction. The way I see it transporting the shear volume of the material to construct the habitat would be a logistical problem. A far better alternative would be to use what passes for the soils or rocks already there. Bonding at a moleculer level can be accomplished through heat and pressure with possibly the need for a binding catalyst. The next issue would be radiation shielding. This can be accomplished by total mass. the thicker any substance becomes the percentage of shielding increases.
    Another thing I see is if a gantry type mega printer were to be used that would have to be transported and assembled on site then whatever structure it could build would be limited by the width and height of the machine. I think for something like a construction printer to to work it would need to be by an articulating manipulator arm on some mobile transport vehicle . Plus I believe a stronger more durable habitat would be dome shaped, having the outer shell of it made in multi layers with interconnecting tunnels to each dome
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    I've read several proposals for 3d printing with Lunar (Moon, not Mars) regolith. Those proposals only used transported-from-earth plastic as a binder, with size-graded regolith making up as much as 80% of the extruded material.

    It's very cool tech with plenty of applications here on Earth. This specific shape wouldn't be a good fit for Mars though. They have to pressurize the habitats up to 14.2 psi/1 bar for human comfort, and those right angles wouldn't be great for a pressure vessel.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Elizabeth Greene View Post
    I've read several proposals for 3d printing with Lunar (Moon, not Mars) regolith. Those proposals only used transported-from-earth plastic as a binder, with size-graded regolith making up as much as 80% of the extruded material.

    It's very cool tech with plenty of applications here on Earth. This specific shape wouldn't be a good fit for Mars though. They have to pressurize the habitats up to 14.2 psi/1 bar for human comfort, and those right angles wouldn't be great for a pressure vessel.
    Exactly. Easy enough to print sphere shapes for habitation and rectangular shapes for efficient non-pressurized storage of equipment.. Just think this kind of thing was only science fitcion 50 years ago, now we are on the verge of doing it for real.

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    Quote Originally Posted by piper184 View Post
    .. Just think this kind of thing was only science fitcion 50 years ago, now we are on the verge of doing it for real.
    Don't get your hopes up just yet. Below are a few selected quotes from this article...

    https://image.gsfc.nasa.gov/poetry/venus/q2811.html

    ================================

    All in all, your trip to Mars would take about 21 months: 9 months to get there, 3 months there, and 9 months to get back. With our current rocket technology, there is no way around this. The long duration of trip has several implications.

    First, you have to bring enough food, water, clothes, and medical supplies for the crew in addition to all the scientific instruments you will want to take. You also have to bring all that fuel! In addition, if you are in space for nine months, you will need a lot of shielding to protect you from the radiation of the Sun. Water, and cement make good shielding but they are very heavy. All together, it is estimated that for a crew of six, you would need 3 million pounds of supplies!

    ================================

    The article then goes on to discuss the physiological concerns associated with such a long period of weightlessness. It does not, however, address the psychological concerns. Imagine, you're going to lock ~6 people in the tight confines of a tin can for almost two years and expect they will not go nuts and/or murder each other.

    If you really want to do it, you'll need to figure out how to build better humans as well as better spacecraft.



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