A 3D printer that can print 3D materials from the lunar soil has arrived on August 12 at the International Space Station (ISS) . The hardware that has arrived on the Space Station on a Cygnus freighter includes three custom-designed print heads and three print bed surfaces.
Developed by Redwire, it will use a "lunar regolith simulant" with physical properties and chemical composition similar to that of lunar soil.
The lunar surface is covered by regolith, a fine gray dust that covers the entire surface of the Moon, and which can be defined as the mantle of loose rock fragments and minerals that cover a solid rocky bottom. In this experiment on the ISS, however, no lunar regolith will be used, but a simulant, a fine gray powder that will be combined with a thermoplastic binder to create the raw material .
The material samples printed during the technical demonstration will be returned to Earth for analysis and to study their feasibility to manufacture components and infrastructure on the moon’s surface.
Future lunar explorers could make their own objects and even homes instead of bringing materials from Earth or relying on expensive cargo shipments.