If you're one of those engineering introverts and hate people, you may have hope for never seeing the large majority of humanity ever again, just go live on the moon. In all seriousness though, the European Space Agency has released plans detailing a base for a colony of astronauts on the moon as soon as 2030. To add one more level of futuristic technology to the scenario, the structures will be built with large space 3D printers. If you feel like you're having flashbacks to your most recent sci-fi novel, keep reading because the future is coming very soon.
Construction on the moon base could begin in as little as 5 years giving the ESA ample time to create a life supporting infrastructure on the Earth's moon. The real question that poses itself after getting over the initial awe and wonder is why is this necessary? Well, having a base on the moon not only provides a base for lunar experiments but it could serve as a launch and docking station for astronauts on their way to Mars. Just imagine booking a flight to mars with your kids and having a layover on the moon.
NASA and other space agencies are also looking into the project as a joint venture opportunity. According to MIT scientists, crews could take off from earth with 68 percent less mass if they were able to refuel at a lunar station.
Most of the construction on the moon will be done with robots and 3D printers in the early stages until sections become acceptable for human labor. These 3D printing robots would scout out lunar materials capable of creating structures with, eliminating the need for the transport of building materials to space at a very large cost.
All of the concept drawings were created by the architectural firm Foster + Partners, which take into account the lunar environment and construction limitations.
Launching such a mission of constructing a lunar base without any idea of what materials that will be used in the building is risky at best. While it may sound absurd, this is the most plausible and cost effective solution to creating the future of space travel.
The ISS has been around for a while now, and it has many space agencies seeking alternative locations for research in the great abyss. The possibilities that are created from having a lunar base, or let alone another space station make the need for continuing development in this field invaluable to the scientific field. It seems as though sci-fi is becoming real at a faster and faster pace, so buckle up and get ready for the space age.