Using the sintering process, the RegoLight team will design and produce a single ‘building element;’ made of printed regolith simulant by a novel new mobile printer. Advanced printing technologies, using readily available resources on the Moon will provide new possibilities for the construction of space architecture and can set new criteria for mission requirements. The project builds on the successful demonstration of core concepts from previous studies and leverages the expertise and resources of the consortium members. DLR being on the same campus as ESA’s EAC further increases the synergies of the consortium.
RegoLight is strategically aligned with the International Space Exploration Coordination Group (ISECG) General Exploration Roadmap that of which has interest in advancing the capabilities needed for future exploration missions. The development of in-situ resource utilization technologies and methodologies will enhance the competitiveness of the European space sector.
Building a permanent outpost on the Moon will be a major step in the exploration of Space and will provide a test environment for the preparation of missions to Mars and beyond.
Scenarios & Applications the ‘big picture’
Based on the mechanical properties of solar sintered regolith, architectural scenarios and applications will be developed taking into account the benefits of additive layer manufacturing and novel construction concepts for lunar gravity.
The technologies to be developed are considered ‘disruptive’ technologies because they challenge the existing mission design paradigm which launches all usable components as pure mass. Validated printing technologies will reduce the required payload necessary to create architectures off Earth and the overall cost of future missions.
Today this technology is considered disruptive; tomorrow it will be the standard. Future lunar missions aided by advanced printing technology will provide significant infrastructure (levelled terrain, dust shelters, launch pads, etc.) as well as structural components for lunar habitats.
Using parameters for southern polar area, RegoLight looks to design a system of building that utilizes in-situ resources.
Construction Method the ‘bottom up’ / ’detailed’ approach
RegoLight aims at enhancing the additive layer manufacturing technique of ‘solar sintering’ and considers three different possible ways in which to sinter the regolith material; to move the sand bed, move the solar beam, or to concentrate the beam into a fibre optic
Mirrored surface / Concentration of solar beam In the test facilities at DLR, solar rays are collected from the natural outdoor environment, using a mosaic of mirrored surfaces that concentrate the solar energy to a single beam.
Movable – Bed/Printing Head Since the solar beam is concentrated at a certain point in space, the material to be shaped must move around the solar beam. A moveable table, capable of moving in x,y,z, axis (an x,y,z translation table) will be designed. Alternatively, a movable printing head with regolith feeder will be developed.
Simulant lunar material will be fully characterized to optimize the additive manufacturing process of a building element with a fine structure.
Vacuum chamber developed technology will be transferred to a vacuum chamber to get closer to a representative lunar environment, thus achieving a Technology Readiness Level of 5.