If you thought NASA, ESA and Elon Musk are the top players in the space race, think again. Yes, Elon Musk’s SpaceX might be a too futuristic with its plans to colonize Mars. But, Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is reportedly planning to build lunar habitats on the Moon. According to a Times of India report, the Indian space research agency has set its eyes on building igloos on the Earth’s natural satellite. However, ISRO is not the only player in the ring. European Space Agency and NASA have also expressed similar plans of setting up 3D-printed habitats on the Moon, which will replace the International Space Station (ISS). ESA researchers have been experimenting with the technology since 2013 to produce structures which could serve as habitable lunar villages. The idea – these igloos or ‘lunar villages’ could be used for research and future experiments, and as a base for missions to the planet Mars. Also, it could be a successor to the orbiting ISS – due to be decommissioned in 2024. According to reports, the European space agency plans to play a leading role in the establishment of lunar villages, and additive manufacturing, more commonly known as 3D-printing will drive it.
In a statement to TOI, M Annadurai, who is the director of ISRO Satellite Centre, said many countries are considering building permanent bases on the Moon and India wants to contribute too. The plan is to send robots and 3D printers to the Moon, which will use lunar soil and other materials to create habitats on its surface.