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Setting up a future lunar base could be made much simpler by using a 3D printer to build it from local materials. Industrial partners including renowned architects Foster+Partners joined ESA to test the feasibility of 3D printing using lunar soil.
The base is first unfolded from a tubular module that can be easily transported by rocket. An inflatable dome then extends from one end of this cylinder to provide a support structure for construction. Layers of regolith are then built up over the dome by a robot-operated 3D printer (right) to create a protective shell.