by Jerry ElengicalAug 19, 2021
BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) and SEArch+ (Space Exploration Architecture) are architectural partners to a revolutionary project that aims to build man’s first permanent habitat on moon. The initiative titled Project Olympus is a vision of ICON, a Texas-based developer of advanced construction technologies which having awarded government's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract, including funding from NASA, has ventured into this dedicated development of space-based construction system.
The project envisions 3D printed infrastructure to be built on the lunar surface through a printer configured to operate autonomously. The structures are conceptualised to be created using indigenous materials, which, in this case is going to be extracted off the dusty regolith.
“With ICON we are pioneering new frontiers – both materially, technologically and environmentally,” says BIG founder Bjarke Ingels.
"To explain the power of architecture, "formgiving" is the Danish word for design, which literally means to give form to that which has not yet been given form. This becomes fundamentally clear when we venture beyond Earth and begin to imagine how we are going to build and live on entirely new worlds."
As per Ingels, the construction of humanity’s first home on another world might reveal answers to our challenges on Earth.
ICON, together with BIG, turns to New York-based SEArch+ - a startup that develops innovative 'human-centered' designs enabling human beings not only to live, but to thrive in space environments beyond Earth.
“Ensuring the safety of astronauts is primary to our work at SEArch+,” comments SEArch+ Co-founders."“3D printing with indigenous materials,” they add, “is a sustainable and versatile solution to off-world construction that will prove to be vital to our future here on Earth and in outer space."
Together with NASA, ICON will test lunar soil simulant using its various printing technologies to help understand the design, development and demonstration of prototypes for a construction system that could print infrastructure on the Moon.
As per the designers, for a permanent lunar presence to exist, robust structures will need to be built on the moon that provide better thermal radiation, and micrometeorite protection than metal or inflatable habitats can provide. On these lines, BIG has conceived circular, doughnut-shaped structures with patterned, tactile exteriors of safety and insulation. The design is being developed in accord with the 3D printing technologies at ICON that will convert moon’s indigenous materials (leaving zero waste behind) and its existing inhospitable conditions into a conducive human environment.
To complete an all-encompassing 3D printed architecture, Project Olympus also includes design and development of landing and take-off pads as well as access roads.
“Building humanity’s first home on another world will be the most ambitious construction project in human history and will push science, engineering, technology, and architecture to literal new heights,” says Jason Ballard, Co-founder and CEO of ICON.
The company whose journey to transform construction began with their delivery of the first, permitted 3D-printed home in the United States in 2018, and which is also working on the world’s first 3D printed community of homes in Mexico in partnership with housing nonprofit, New Story, looks forward to building on other worlds and create visionary breakthroughs.