Future missions to the Moon will require the utilization of the local resources in order to make them affordable. The EU-funded RegoLight project advances existing 3D printing technologies and methodologies for the purpose of shaping lunar regolith, a readily available resource on the Moon's surface, through the means of concentrated sunlight that sinters the material, making it solid.
Space Applications Services completed successfully one of the first milestones of the project: the commissioning of a precision Regolith Feeder for utilization at the DLR solar simulator.
The integration comprised 3 subsystems: the Numerical Control Generation Unit (NCGU), hardware and software which processes a 3D model provided by the habitat design specialists, generating instructions for the printer to make the part out of regolith simulant; the Feeder Electro-Mechanical Assembly (FEMA), which holds and conveys the material to the surface to be printed; and finally, the Feeder Power and Control Unit (FPCU), which commands the FEMA in order to push the material into the surface.
Feeder Electro-Mechanical Assembly in action
All these components work harmoniously in conjunction with an XYZ table that will also be utilized next year in a printing campaign at the solar simulator of DLR in Cologne, Germany.
Upcoming stages of the RegoLight project in 2017 include the world's first automated solar sintering of regolith simulant under vacuum conditions, and the development of a mobile printing head, analogous to the one that would one day construct large structures on the Moon.
The REGOLIGHT consortium includes, Space Applications Services, Belgium; DLR, Germany (coordinator); Liquifer Systems Group, Austria; COMEX, France; Bollinger Grohmann, Austria.
Space Applications Services and DLR teams at the integration
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under Grant Agreement no 686202.