Product/Service - ASTRA
- Surface Habitats & Structures
- Surface Habitats
Space Construction Company
- First launch
- Not announced
Makers of smart buildings, 3D printed constructs, and off-world habitats.
Starting October 2022, SpaceFactory launched our first (terrestrial) commercial 3D printer, ASTRA. Building on the prototype developed for the NASA Centennial Challenge, SpaceFactory engineered ASTRA for scale, autonomy, and sustainability. Designed as a full-stack solution including material handling, ASTRA is a fraction of the price of comparable gantry style 3D printers. By reducing cost and technical barrier-to-entry, ASTRA’s mission is to enable the next generation of builders and creators.
Unlike conventional 3D prints, where layers are parallel to the ground, LINA will be 3D printed at a 60-degree angle to construct the continuous, vaulted roof. A regolith berm, prepared in advance, functions as an inclined print bed to support the initial layers. To prevent warping as the material cools, and to improve adhesion of the 3D print material to the regolith print bed, reusable metal tiebacks will be inserted into the berm to anchor the first layers. As the roof begins to take shape, a mobile excavator will follow behind the 3D print head to cover LINA with a protective regolith overburden. Finally, the regolith overburden is shaped to give LINA a sleek, yet symbiotic form designed to meld into the lunar landscape.
To construct LINA, SpaceFactory is advancing the development of a Space-rated 3D printing system designed to operate in vacuum with temperatures ranging from -170º to 70ºC. The first such prototype, built by SpaceFactory together with NASA, is undergoing testing at Kennedy Space Center in a lunar environmental chamber designed to mimic the exact conditions at the Lunar south pole. The 3D print material, formulated by SpaceFactory from BP-1 lunar simulant, was synthesized by NASA’s Granular Mechanics and Regolith Operations Lab and subsequently validated in static extrusion tests performed in vacuum.
In an alien environment 54.6 million kilometers away, construction and materials must be rethought entirely.
Architecture on Earth plays a critical role in the way we live. On Mars, this reaches a higher level of importance since buildings are also machines we depend on to keep us alive and well. In Space architecture, every design decision is of great consequence to the success of a mission. Structures must be resilient and interior layouts must be tuned to mission demands. And yet, since sustained social and mental health are also mission-critical, Space habitats must be designed to be rich, useful, and interesting worlds onto themselves. Marsha, AI SpaceFactory’s Mars habitat design, illustrates that the result can be both visionary and credible with an alien yet familiar beauty.
MARSHA employs a unique dual-shell scheme to isolate the habitable spaces from the structural stresses brought on by Mars’s extreme temperature swings. This separation makes the interior environment unbeholden to the conservativism required of the outer shell, which retains its simple and effective form. As a result, the interior is free to be designed in the sense we take for granted on Earth – around human needs.