National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the first space agency to put humans on the Moon, is planning to create human settlements there by 2040. This ambitious goal will involve using 3D printers to create structures using resources available on the Moon.
NASA embarked on its historic journey to the Moon with the Apollo program in 1972. However, after the program’s closure, NASA shifted its focus away from the Earth’s only natural satellite, opting for missions that orbited and returned from the Moon without landing astronauts.
Now, the space agency is rekindling its lunar aspirations by not only planning a return trip to the Moon but also setting ambitious goals to establish human settlements there by the year 2040. These settlements won’t be exclusive to astronauts; they are intended for civilians as well.
NASA envisions that by 2040, the Moon will host the first American subdivision, marking a significant milestone in human space exploration.
According to a report by The New York Times, NASA’s plans involve sending a 3-D printer to the Moon and constructing structures using lunar resources. On Earth, 3-D printers are already used to build structures utilizing locally available materials, making the concept theoretically viable on the Moon as well.
The proposed timeline may appear ambitious, given that the 2040s are just 17 years away—a relatively short period considering the vast complexities of space endeavors. However, experts interviewed by The New York Times believe that this goal is attainable if NASA continues to meet its milestones. The agency is working with private companies, academics, and industry leaders to develop the necessary technologies.
Niki Werkheiser, NASA’s Director of Technology Maturation, expressed her optimism. “We’re at a pivotal moment,” said Niki Werkheise. “In some ways, it feels like a dream sequence… In other ways, it feels like it was inevitable that we would get here.”
She added, “We’ve got all the right people together at the right time with a common goal, which is why I think we’ll get there. Everyone is ready to take this step together, so if we get our core capabilities developed, there’s no reason it’s not possible.”
NASA’s plans for Moon settlements are part of a larger effort to establish a sustainable human presence in space. The agency believes that the Moon can be a stepping stone to Mars and other destinations.
NASA will not embark on this ambitious mission alone; it is expected to collaborate with private companies and seek extensive support from academic institutions and industry leaders. This collaborative effort aims to push the boundaries of human exploration and open up new possibilities for humanity’s future beyond Earth.