We’re not too far off from living in space.
In fact, NASA astrobiologist Chris McKay gathered some of the greatest scientists in 2014 to discuss setting up a small base on the moon — something he reasoned is entirely doable by 2020. Why the moon? Because it would provide a blue print for what we would need to live on Mars.
But all of these ambitious plans beg the question: once we get there, how exactly will we live? Shelter plays a key role in answering that question, and one professor thinks he has the solution.
Behrokh Khoshnevis, a professor of engineering at the University of Southern California, has developed a method he calls Contour Crafting that would allow humans to easily build houses on other planets. Contour Crafting uses a giant robot to layer concrete to build houses. The 3D-printing method ensures all the conduits for electrical, plumbing and air-conditioning are set up once the house is complete.
“Most of the ideas for buildings on other planets are based on taking stuff from earth and assembling stuff there,” Khoshnevis told Tech Insider. “Even taking one pound of material from here to the moon is about $100,000…it’s ridiculously expensive to think about building infrastructure and habitats over there.”
Not only does Contour Crafting cut down on costs, but automating the building process means houses can be built much faster, Khoshnevis explained.
Khoshnevis is working with NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program to make Contour Crafting a reality. Contour Crafting is currently in Phase II of the NIAC Program, meaning it’s part of a two-year, $500,000 study. There’s no timeline as to when we can see the 3D-printing method in use in space.
“How can we ever end such conflict of territorial problems between nations? When can we get rid of countries, the notion of nations, and have one world for the whole of humanity under one government?” Khoshnevis said. “That’s why I’m so dedicated to the vision of space. I know it won’t happen in my lifetime, it’s just the right thing to do for the future of humanity.”
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