Here's the crazy plan to start building an inflatable habitat on the Moon in 2024
Last year, the European Space Agency (ESA) made history by landing the first ever spacecraft — called Philae — on a comet.
The ESA's next big mission for the history books: Building the first Moon habitat located in the Shackleton crater — a 2.6-miles hole at the lunar south pole.
On June 7, ESA released a video describing how it plans to use cutting-edge technology such as 3D printers and inflatable habitats to accomplish this, with the goal of supporting up to four astronauts at a time inside the shelter.
What's more, the future head of ESA, Johann-Dietrich Wörner, says the agency wants to start construction on the habitat, which it's calling "Lunarville," by as early as 2024.
Europe has never soft-landed anything on the Moon before. Only the US, USSR, and China can lay claim to that feat. ESA hopes to change that very soon: In 2018 it's planning to send a Lunar Lander to the Moon's south pole. The mission will be a precursor to ESA's bigger construction plans.
As early as 2024, provided enough funding is gathered over the next nine years, ESA will then send another spacecraft to the lunar south pole to begin construction of the first lunar base in human history. The lander will contain everything ESA needs to being including an inflatable dome and robots with 3D printers.
First, ESA will deploy the inflatable dome on the surface:
"First, we needed to mix the simulated lunar material with magnesium oxide," Enrico Dini, founder of Monolite, said in an ESA statement. "This turns it into 'paper' we can print with."
"A permanent shuttle service needs to be established in the case of medical emergencies," Wörner told the online tabloid Mirror.
ESA said that its lunar base could replace the International Space Station as the new base for astronauts to experience life in deep-space. If this turns out to be the case, the astronauts will only get to enjoy zero-gravity somersaults during the two-day trip to the base.
You can check out ESA's video about Lunarville below:
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