Sinterhab has joined the race to build the first 3D-printed space station, giving Foster + Partners a run for their money with a station that would be made by baking lunar dust. The space station concept, which resulted from a collaboration between NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and “space architects” Tomas Rousek, Katarina Eriksson and Dr. Ondrej Doule, would be built by spider robots using microwaves, lunar dust and solar energy. The project would naturally bond itself together using heat and solar energy, without the need for glue or other fixatives.
The key ingredient to Sinterhab’s space station is lunar soil, which would be transformed into a ceramic-like material called regolith with a microwave-sinter process. NASA robots would print the structures on site, and bond them together with a heating process, saving on energy since no glue would need to be sent from Earth.
Based on the geometric formation of bubbles in nature, the sides of the structures will be made up of equally-sized flat walls that fit together, joining edge-by-edge to form perfect dome-like structures. The six-legged ALTHETE robot by NASA would build the space station, which was developed using the Microwave Sinterator Freeform Additive Construction System.
By using the moon’s natural resource — its own soil — Sinterhab’s project has far less impact than hauling more materials from Earth, which also enables a larger base to be built. If fully developed, Sinterhab hopes the system will enable humans to build entire 3D-printed cities on the moon’s surface, using solar energy to power the robots.