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Forget astronaut space walks or brief rocket rides — within the next 20 years, NASA predicts that Americans will be moving … to the moon.
According to The New York Times, some NASA scientists are aiming to make living in houses on the moon a reality by 2040.
“We’re at a pivotal moment, and in some ways, it feels like a dream sequence,” Niki Werkheiser, NASA’s director of technology maturation, told the outlet. “In other ways, it feels like it was inevitable that we would get here … We’ve got the right people together at the right time with a common goal, which is why I think we’ll get there.”
The government agency is currently working on its new Artemis program, in which American astronauts will eventually return to the moon to live there and use it as a base for exploring Mars and the rest of the solar system. In November 2024, four crew members will be sent into orbit alongside the moon, and a year later, NASA plans to land them on the moon.
To help make this goal a reality, CBS News reports that NASA will send a 3-D printer from the Texas-based company ICON to the moon to build the infrastructure that the moon’s first inhabitants will need, from housing to landing pads. Rather than using Earth-based materials, the printer will reportedly build these structures by turning materials already found on the moon, such as the sand-like material lunar regolith, into a concrete-like material.
According to the Times, 3-D printing homes from these local materials would also help these structures withstand the moon’s notorious toxic radiation and extreme temperature changes.
Although it will take years for the moon to be habitable to the average person, that doesn’t mean that space tourism is necessarily that far off. In 2022, Architectural Digest reported that space station design company Orbital Assembly is currently aiming to open the first-ever commercial space hotels by 2025.