One of the challenges to a long-term human presence on the moon is to establish all the technologies needed to support those processes. One of the biggest challenges is how to launch and land a spacecraft on the moon’s surface without continuously blowing dust and debris onto sensitive equipment needed for continuous operations. NASA announced that it, along with a team of students from various colleges and universities across the country, has tested a 3D printed launch and landing pad.
The students are members of the Artemis Generation, and the test was taken on March 6 at Swift Camp in Bastrop, Texas, to see how well the board could withstand a hot rocket engine. The design concept students were testing is known as Lunar Plume Alleviation Device or Lunar PAD. It was specifically designed to solve the problems caused by the rising lunar dust during launch and landing activities.
The design was proposed, which students tested during a competitive proposal writing workshop led by the Office of the Chief Technologist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, and Laspas Academy. The latter organization is a student collaboration project for the NASA Lucy Mission at Arizona State University in Tempe.
The winning design team received funding to print and test a small-scale prototype with the help of NASA and a budding building technology company called ICON. The Sounding Rocketry team at Texas A&M University was also involved in the project. NASA did not provide real details about how good the 3D-printed launch and landing platform would be during testing.
It is also unclear what kind of missile engine was used for the test and what the next step in the testing process would be. NASA is working hard to develop the technologies needed to return humans to the moon through the Artemis missions.