Essentially, through the use of pre-fabrication, inflatable structures, and remote controlled robots with 3-D printing capabilities, the ESA is proposing to build a "base camp" by remote control, at the Lunar South Pole. All the components would be contained in one lunar lander, necessitating only one launch to establish a protected two-story habitation for later astronauts.
How does the 3-D printing fit into all of this? Well the robots will pile up the local regolith(sp?) over the inflatable dome, and at each layer, using local materials, they'll "print" a supporting structure modeled on the internal structure of a bird's bones to bind the regolith cover together and provide protection against micro-meteor strikes and radiation. A process which I think is kinda neat, and certainly seems plausible. Oh, and the hatches at the top of the dome? They are skylights which can probably be closed, permitting natural sunlight to be funneled inside the buried structure.
Of course, one would expect that later robot flights would provide the material for additional structures, and perhaps it'll be powered by solar arrays. My question is, just how efficiently can they extract and recycle oxygen and water? And then there's also the question of waste disposal.
Presumably, they'll try to also establish somekind of green house to provide food, oxygen, and a place to usefully dispose of waste, whether this is established prior to the pioneer's arriving, or the first pioneer's are expected to help set it up is also open to question as well.
the G-man Himself
Edited by G-man, 06 November 2014 - 12:56 PM.