A Chinese research team says it has created a material from artificial lunar dust that could build a strong moon base. It is suggested that volcanic rock on site could be used. The idea is still testing without process in a space-like environment.
Chinese scientists at the Xinjiang Technical Institute of Physics and Chemistry in Urumqi changed the artificial dust into a high-performance material called basalt fibre. The fiber achieved a tensile strength of 1.4 gigapascals or 1,400 megapascals.
The latest results offer valuable data for the construction of a lunar base with on-site resources, according to the materials scientist Ma Pengcheng and his team. The fibre targeted to provide certain protections against the blast of a small meteorite, the team added. The team is now using artificial lunar dust found in the Chinese-North Korean border which has the same composition as the samples brought back from the moon by Nasa in 1971.
Cost is one of the biggest concerns in constructing a lunar base. Ma stated that any material brought to the moon costs US$50,000 to US$90,000 per kilogram. Take Nasa’s proposal as an example. A moon base requires 12,000 tonnes of concrete plus steel, water and other construction materials. Transportation of the material to the moon has already cost over US $1 trillion. Basalt fiber could make it more cheaper if the project success.
Basalt fibre is commonly used for military construction projects and weapons from the 1950s to 1990s. Many Chinese infrastructure companies now using basalt fibre in the concrete for projects such as bridges to achieve high strength at a lower cost.