In the next two decades, the concept of living in outer space might transform from fantastical sci-fi to concrete reality. NASA envisions a future where the moon isn’t just a celestial body we admire from Earth, but a place some might call home.
A recent article from The New York Times suggests that by 2040, settling on the moon could be more than just an astronaut’s dream. NASA scientists have begun extensive planning to actualize this vision.
Niki Werkheiser, NASA’s director of technology maturation, expressed her excitement and optimism about this endeavor. “It feels surreal, like we’re living out scenes from a futuristic novel,” she commented. “Yet, there’s an underlying sentiment that this step was always meant to be. With a united team, driven by passion and purpose, I genuinely believe we can make this happen.”
The core of this ambitious project lies within NASA’s new Artemis program. This initiative seeks to have American astronauts not just visit the moon but establish a sustained presence, which will subsequently act as a launchpad for deeper space exploration. Preliminary missions, including a November 2024 orbit around the moon with a crew of four, are in the works. By 2025, the agency hopes to have astronauts set foot on lunar soil once again.
To support human habitation on the moon, NASA has collaborated with ICON, a Texan company specializing in 3-D printing, reported by CBS News. ICON will deploy a 3-D printer to construct vital infrastructure, ranging from habitats to landing zones. But what’s truly revolutionary is the choice of building material: lunar regolith. This moon-native, sand-like substance can be transformed into a concrete analog, offering durability against lunar challenges, including its harsh radiation and temperature fluctuations.
Although the dream of regular citizens living on the moon might still be a couple of decades away, space tourism is on the horizon. As reported by Architectural Digest in 2022, Orbital Assembly, a space station design firm, plans to launch the world’s first commercial space hotels by 2025.