China is taking 3D printers to the moon

Moon surface and Earth on the horizon
(Image credit: Shutterstock / Dima Zel)

In an effort to realize lunar habitation, China is reportedly working on plans for 3D printers to make use of the existing materials on the moon.

During the pandemic’s first year, the People’s Republic received its first lunar soil sample as part of the Chang’e 5 mission, leaving scientists and astronomers to study the potential of lunar colonization.

By the end of this decade, China hopes to have completed its Chang’e 6, 7, and 8 missions, collecting a second sample, targeting the moon’s south pole, and looking for reusable resources, respectively.

3D printing on the moon

Chang’e 8 specifically is designed to explore resources that the country would be able to use for building purposes with its chosen method: 3D printing.

Studying the mineral composition and availability of other resources will give scientists an indication of what may be possible remotely, from Earth, giving the country a chance to draw up plans ahead of broader lunar travel.

Furthermore, China looks to be contemplating technologies whereby humans are not required - such as 3D printing - which would allow liveable structures to be assembled ahead of people’s arrival.

The report comes from Communist Party-owned China Daily (via Reuters), which quotes China National Space Administration scientist Wu Weiren: “If we wish to stay on the moon for a long time, we need to set up stations by using the moon's own materials.”

The Chang’e 8 mission is also reportedly preparing to launch a robot that will be able to build “lunar soil bricks” as the Republic continues to intensify its space program.

Recently, Russia’s Roskosmos has been struggling as the country battles sanctions imposed on it by nuemerous Western governments, while NASA has also drawn up plans for lunar exploration in the coming years.

Craig Hale

With several years’ experience freelancing in tech and automotive circles, Craig’s specific interests lie in technology that is designed to better our lives, including AI and ML, productivity aids, and smart fitness. He is also passionate about cars and the decarbonisation of personal transportation. As an avid bargain-hunter, you can be sure that any deal Craig finds is top value!