Thinking about building a home on Mars, but having trouble finding a contractor? That might no longer be such a problem, thanks to a new technology that one day could make it much faster to build one there than it takes us now on Earth. A professor at the University of Southern California has designed an automated 3D printer that, he says, would make it "possible to build an entire home within a day." "You press a button and it will be built," says Behrokh Khoshnevis, who teaches industrial and systems engineering at USC.
The process, called "Contour Crafting," was conceived as a way to quickly construct emergency housing on this planet out of concrete. But NASA sees other applications for Khoshnevis' homebuilding innovation -- for starters, projects such as an airport on the moon. "Behrokh's work is one of the most creative and far reaching concepts I've seen," said Jason Derleth, the program manager for NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts, in a news release this past summer. "He really has a chance to change the world by robotically printing buildings here, and he may even change the next human world by doing the same on the moon and Mars."
"We will build small little habitats, then little towns, and eventually cities on Mars," says space architect John Spencer, "the same way we did in the United States...." Though, realistically, that could take hundreds of years, Spencer adds.
But with the cost of taking just two pounds of material to Mars estimated at $100,000, how could you even get enough concrete to the Red Planet to make the Contour Crafting process (pictured above) practical? Khoshnevis has an answer for that, too, as the video above shows. And according to those working on the project, it's a method that might soon have practical applications on Earth in places such as Hawaii, where concrete has to be imported.
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