We are at the dawn of a new era in space exploration. The 21st century will find the human race hurtling out of our orbit and colonizing other worlds in our solar system. This worthy endeavor will not only provide us with new knowledge and understanding of our universe but will be the first big step in securing our species survival.
The American administration has committed our nation to the exploration of space and to extending a human presence across our solar system (January 14th. 2004). The Administration and NASA’s goal is to return to the moon by 2020, as the launching point for missions beyond. Beginning no later than 2008, we will send a series of robotic missions to the lunar surface to research and prepare for future human exploration. Using the Crew Exploration Vehicle, we will undertake extended human missions to the moon as early as 2015, with the goal of living and working there for increasingly extended periods. For humans to live on the moon habitats must be established prior to any explorer or settler spending extended periods of time on Lunar or Martian surfaces.
Contour Crafting technology has the potential to build safe, reliable, and affordable lunar and Martian structures, habitats, laboratories, and other facilities before the arrival of human beings. Contour Crafting construction systems are being developed that exploit in situ resources and can utilize lunar regolith as construction material. These structures can include integrated radiation shielding, plumbing, electrical, and sensor networks.
Contour Crafting (CC) is the only fabrication technology capable of building objects with large layer heights while maintaining near-perfect surface quality. CC uses computer control to exploit the superior surface-forming capability of troweling to create smooth and accurate planar and free-form surfaces out of extruded materials. With its relatively large nozzle orifice, CC offers important advantages, including better surface quality, higher fabrication speed, and wider choice of materials/additives.
The ability to fabricate extraterrestrial habitats, laboratories or manufacturing facilities is the key element for long-term human survival on the Moon or Mars. Our proposal develops an automated in situ construction system that is viable, economical, practical and with applicability within a decade for Earth-Moon operations.