ESA: Astronauts to become Village People

Johann-Dietrich Werner, Director General of the European Space Agency, is calling for the construction of a permanent base on the Moon by the year 2030. The ESA held the International Symposium On The Moon 2020-2030 in Amsterdam in December 2015. Participants included people from ESA, academia and industry.

The case for a moon village is compelling. NASA estimates that using a village on the moon to launch a manned mission to Mars would reduce the amount of weight needed to be lifted from the Earth by 68%. The annual savings to the U.S. space program using this approach has been estimated at $10 billion per year.

Dr. Dietrich would like to see an international effort made to build the village in the same way that the International Space Station was built. Construction could begin in the early 2020’s with the landing of robots equipped with 3D printers to construct a few structures from resources found on the Moon.
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3D Printing: “Houston, we have a problem. Email us the solution”

On November 11, 2015 Dr. Tommaso Ghidini, Head of the Materials Technology Section at the European Space Agency spoke about the transformative role of 3D printing in space exploration to the European Space Agency’s first TEDx conference.

Dr. Ghidini is engaging. His presentation is excellent, with clear lay-level explanations of both the process and the advantages of 3D printing. He uses both actual events and practical future applications to make several important points.

Dr. Ghidini talks about how a failed water valve on the ISS ten years ago prompted a discussion of 3D printing among his colleagues. 3D printing was in its infancy then but it was possible to 3D print a replacement for the water valve.

Compared to the traditionally manufactured valve, the 3D printed version was about half the weight, had taken hours as opposed to days to make, and was much less expensive. It worked. His team had 3D printed a water valve.

But the ESA team raised another question.
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