3D Model Ideation/ Moon Base Project
This is a final project for my Ideation and prototyping class. I needed to find a specific problem in the 2040s and design a way to solve it. I practiced and went through the whole process of ideation, story telling and prototyping.
3D Model: SketchUp
Video: After Effects
In the brainstorming phase, I chose 3 keywords from the wordlist to get start: science, nature and technology. Since I am a big fan of science fictions, it seems that I always try to connect them to the universe and space travel. Then a rough idea just came up to my mind that I can design something for moon base in the future.
In the 2040s, people are facing severe resource shortage. Also, the growing environmental concerns accelerate demands for finding green resource for substitution. Therefore, it is essential to broaden exploration of outer space and set temporary base for further research.
Here are several reasons that people need to set temporary base on the moon
1.People can build power plants on the moon. Since the energy on the earth is depleting, it is necessary to think of building solar power plants on the moon for the using on Earth. Scientists envisage installing thousands of solar arrays on the lunar surface to collect solar energy, which can be converted into electricity and sent back to Earth in the form of microwaves. Besides, building power plants on the moon is not affected by weather and seasonal changes. It is also low-cost, safe and reliable, which is almost inexhaustible. Therefore, building power plants on the moon can not only effectively mitigate resource shortage, but reduce more pollution on earth to lead more eco-friendly life as well.
2.The Moon may offer mineral resources. Scientists have found that helium 3, an isotope extremely rare on Earth, exists in quantity in the lunar soil, implanted by the solar wind. If thermonuclear fusion for energy is produced on Earth, helium 3 would be extremely valuable for fusion reactors because it does not make the reactor radioactive. The helium 3 element is released by the sun, but the earth’s magnetic field and thick atmosphere make it impossible for the helium 3 to reach the earth. However, the moon, which is 384,400 kilometers away from the earth, has accumulated a great deal of helium 3 for billions of years. There are around 1.1 million tons of helium 3 at the surface of the moon，and mining only 1500 tons of helium 3 on the moon each year would meets the energy needs of the whole world. Therefore, In any event, research on the use of helium 3 would clearly benefit if large quantities could be exported to the Earth.
3.Establish the moon observatory. The low gravitational force and the lack of atmospheric shielding make it very conducive to erecting giant telescopes on the moon, so that humans will better study the secrets from distant galaxies.
4.The moon is a appropriate place as a transit station for space navigation. It is much easier to launch detectors and spacecraft from the moon to other planets than on Earth. Recently, water was found on the moon. It can not only be used for astronauts, the liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen produced by which can be the fuel for the rocket as well. For the future expedition to the universe, the moon will inevitably become a rare springboard and transfer station.
In order to find out whether it’s possible to set a temporary base on the moon, I did secondary research and found technology support，environmental condition and main problems need to be solved for moon colonization.
To build base on the moon, it’s important to find accessible and economical building materials, such as a large amount of concrete. Since the raw materials of the concrete, such as water and cement, cannot be carried entirely from the earth by carrier rockets, we need to create concrete by using materials on the moon. According to the analysis of lunar soil samples so far, the lunar soil contains 17.5% calcium, and 75% of the aggregate and cement in the concrete can be obtained from the moon. After several tests and iterations, specimens of the lunar concrete have been made so as to test their strength properties and resistance to severe changes of space temperature. In addition, on January 11, 1988, the “Mount Lunar Prospector” satellite discovered ice around the moon’s north and south poles, and if it was turned into water, which would be enough for 1,000 households to use for more than a century, this would solve the problem of the water usage for space concrete production.
3D PRINTING FOR BASE CONSTRUCTION
3D printing technology has a wide range of application prospects in the aerospace field. Because of the huge transportation costs between Earth and space, products made in space have no advantage in competing with products on Earth. However, these manufactured products in space are definitely more competitive in the space market than products shipped from the earth. The 3D printing technology is a key technology for space production, and it may also be the key to the industrialization of space.
There are many advantages of applying 3D printing to aerospace field:
1.3D printing technology has designability. 3D printing equipment can produce products with various shapes and functions in space by only information transmission between space and the earth. In the future, there will inevitably encounter a variety of sudden hardware accidents in space. If some hardware can be manufactured on the track using 3D printing technology, it will be much more convenient to solve these problems.
2.The raw materials used for 3D printing can be taken from space. 3D printing can maximize the reuse of materials to reduce costs. 3D printing itself is a manufacturing technology that turns raw materials into parts. If a product made in space is damaged, it only needs to be melted into raw materials and printed again. Even considering raw material loss, reusable 3D printing is much cheaper than one-time use.If we think further, it is absolutely crucial to carry out the development of the moon or the development of asteroids and carry out in-situ production. In the ESA’s most recent lunar development proposal, it was mentioned that moon-based 3D printing robots may be used for moon base construction.
How to refine helium 3 on the moon? The current technology for refining helium-3 on the earth is heat it to 700 degrees. However, heating the material to 700 degrees on the moon is impossible for people depending on current existing science and technology. Even though there have been some methods to mine the helium 3 on the moon, such like using sunlight to heat the lunar soil to extract, its cost will be extremely expensive. It is estimated that extracting per kilogram helium 3 will cost at least one million US dollars.
Ice drilling: drill for the ice underneath and heat it up to water. This is an essential device for catering to water usage on the moon. Plus, in the process of generating water, there will also generate hydrogen and oxygen, which can be used for provide similar atmosphere for the shelter.
Moon shelter: this is the living space for people on the moon. The shelter is made from special material which can resist extreme temperature and hit from meteoroids. Inside the shelter there will be a tube for atmosphere transmission, so that people can breathe fresh air inside the shelter.
Mining vehicle: it can collect useful minerals and raw materials for base construction.
Space elevator: it connect the moon and the earth, it’s a low cost and convenient way for transmit resources and human between earth and moon. Therefore human can be sent to the moon by the elevator without crew trains, and the resources collected on the moon can be sent back to the earth.
3D printing robot: it is used for print large structures of the plants and shelter by using raw materials on the moon.
Power plant: the plant generate power through nuclear fusion. The energy for making nuclear fusion include both solar radiation and helium-3. The power is mainly used for the moon base electricity usage.
Helium-3 plant: the plant is used for extracting helium-3.
LOW FIDELITY PROTOTYPE
Based on sketches, I made low-fi prototype by using SketchUp. I made models of basic infrastructure for temporary moon base, including space elevator, 3D printing robots, moon shelter, power plant, water production plant，helium-3 purification plant and space craft.
HIGH FIDELITY PROTOTYPE
Here is the link of my demo video:
AMELIORATE RESOURCE SHORTAGE
The resource such as helium-3 and other rare minerals can not only be used on the moon base, but can be transmitted to the earth by space elevator as well, which ameliorate the resource shortage an environmental issues on earth.
INDUSTRIALIZATION ON THE MOON
We have achieved primary progress in industrialization on the moon. 3D printing and power generation techniques has been successfully used in batch production and construction.
We have built our first moon base. It provide possibility for moon colonization and it can be used for scientists to do research on the moon, which can help us get to know the moon better. Plus, the base can also be used for transfer station for astronauts who are going to explore further place in space.