Russia Wants to Build 'Large Scale Structures' on the Moon Using Lunar Soil and 3D Printing

Russia has set its sights on building a base on the moon—and it will accomplish this feat with the help of 3D printing—or additive—technologies that utilize lunar soil, a spokesperson for the country's space corporation Roscosmos told Russian state-owned news agency TASS.

Roscosmos has said that it wants to establish a lunar base by 2040 as part of a three-stage program.

The first of these will see a spacecraft sent to orbit the moon, The Moscow Times reported. The second will involved a manned mission to the lunar surface and the initiation of moon base construction—expected to take place between 2025 and 2034. The third stage will see the finishing touches added to the moon base.

The Roscosmos spokesperson said that the "construction of large-scale structures" would take place with the use of "additive technologies and local resources." The spokesperson also noted that the third stage would involve "furnishing scientific and industrial objects with equipment" as well as the creation of structures that are crucial for supporting the lives of astronauts on the moon.

Previously, Russian aerospace company NPO Lavochkin said that such 3D printing technology could be powered by solar energy, and would use moon dust to create specialized objects.

Furthermore, Director General of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, previously told Russian news agency RIA Novosti that this 3D printing could be used to create new parts for lunar technologies, as well as to repair equipment, thus reducing the need for costly resupply missions from Earth.

In late 2018, Roscosmos announced that the moon base would be managed in the long-term with the help of humans on Earth controlling robot "avatars" on the lunar surface.

"We're talking about creating a long-term base, not constantly manned, but visitable," Rogozin told RIA Novosti in November of that year.

NASA has also set its sights on establishing a permanent presence on the moon as part of its longer-term goal of reaching Mars. The space agency wants to begin conducting sustainable lunar surface missions by the late 2020s.

These will be conducted from NASA's so-called lunar "Gateway"—a small spaceship for astronauts and science experiments that will orbit the moon, acting as a kind of staging post.

As part of these future space exploration plans, the space agency wants to put the first woman on the lunar surface by 2024. However, the mission, dubbed "Artemis," is still in its early stages of development, and there are several significant challenges to overcome before it is ready to put people on the moon.

the moon
The moon is seen through passing clouds over Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, March 20, 2019. SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images