Say we do finally get to the moon–how are we going to get all the tools we need to build things up there?
The answer might be the new science of 3-D printing: All you need to do is take along a laptop and a 3-D printer and you can have anything you want. But you need appropriate raw materials to print ON, so it’s still a problem.
Problem solved! Researchers have devised a method that uses a high-powered laser to liquefy moon rocks so they can make 3-D printouts of the tools that moon colonies will need. So they could test their equipment (without actually going to the moon), NASA sent them some fine, black powder that was compositionally similar to moon rocks and asked if they could 3-D print on it.
The researchers were able to uniformly melt and then re-solidify the (simulated) moon dust into 3-D objects, like bricks, that could be used for tools, structures, radiation shields, and insulating coatings.
Some people have suggested mining an asteroid for the appropriate material to print on, but will be easier and cheaper just to gather up rocks from the surface.
On Wired.com, Nathan Hurst quotes engineer Amit Bandyopadhyay as saying, "Our goal was, give us a material, we’ll try to see if this material can be used to make parts. Can you print it?"
There are all kinds of ways to "print it," and one of these is e-books. Did you know that Whitley Strieber has written an incredible novel that is ONLY available online? And if you like "real" books, we have a great offer for our subscribers: A beautiful hardcover novel by Whitley for less than $5!