Project Olympus: ICON Chosen by NASA to Develop Moon Base 3D Printing Tech

Share this Article

The hype around additive construction continues to grow. Unlike the days in which WinSun would “3D print” a six-story apartment building, we’re seeing numerous projects undertaken by a variety of firms around the world. All of this seems to demonstrate that, despite the hype, there is real technological value there. When that same value will be exhibited for the new space industry and 3D printing buildings on the moon remains unclear, but we can’t rule the possibilities out entirely.

The latest news combining the yet-to-be-fulfilled new space frontier with additive construction is called Project Olympus, a NASA-funded initiative aimed at developing a method for robotic building on the moon. Olympus is being driven by a firm that has been steadily making a name for itself in construction 3D printing: ICON. Adding to its $44 million raised from investors so far is the recent Small Business Innovation Research government contract from NASA to 3D print habitats on the moon using local materials and creating no waste.

With its partners, architecture firm BIG and new space startup SEArch+ (Space Exploration Architecture), ICON will be working with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, to explore additive construction of a simulant of moon soil. BIG partner Martin Voelkle suggested that the sustainability practices achieved in 3D printing on the moon with zero waste could be extrapolated to construction on Earth.

“We have explored various building forms ideal for containing atmospheric pressure and optimised for protection from cosmic and solar radiation,” Voelkle said. “The habitat will be designed with the inherent redundancy required for extraterrestrial buildings, while also using groundbreaking robotic construction that uses only in-situ resources with zero waste left behind.”

Image courtesy of ICON.

Numerous projects have been initiated to explore the possibilities of 3D printing habitats in space, including solar-powered sintering , with some endeavors stretching back to 2014. In this case, the business selected for the SBIR may be up to the task. ICON has achieved some remarkable feats, such 3D printing shelters for U.S. military vehicles and breaking ground on a 3D-printed community in Mexico. It has also built shelters for the homeless in Austin, TX.

Establishing space habitat is part of NASA’s larger Artemis project, which is not only directed toward landing astronauts on the moon by 2024, but also creating a long-term base there. Whether or not ICON’s will be the project to set the stage for a sustained human presence on the moon we can’t yet know.

Share this Article


Recent News

MX3D Receives €2.25M to Commercialize Metal 3D Printing Welding Robots

Baubot 3D Printing Robot is a Construction Site’s New Helper



Categories

3D Design

3D Printed Art

3D Printed Food

3D Printed Guns


You May Also Like

COBOD’s 2020 Financial Results Confirm Profitable Growth for Construction 3D Printing

It turns out that 2020 was an excellent year for Danish firm COBOD. The cement 3D printer manufacturer reported a gross profit of DKK 9.3 million ($1.5 million) for 2020...

Featured

NASA Funds 36 Space 3D Printing Projects—Here Are the 15 Most Exciting

NASA’s latest funding of space technology projects includes plenty of 3D printing innovation proposals. Out of a total of 289 US small businesses and 47 research institutions to receive initial...

World’s First 3D Printed Community Starts Development in California

Palari Group and Mighty Buildings have announced what could become the world’s first community of 3D printed homes. The community, which is slated to be zero net energy, will be...

Branch Technology Installs 3D Printed Façade on Local Credit Union

Chattanooga, Tennessee’s Branch Technology has been making steady progress with its unique additive construction technology, including a recent $11 million infusion to expand its fleet of 3D printers. Its latest...


Shop

View our broad assortment of in house and third party products.