European Space Agency 3D prints LEGO Space Bricks from 4.5 billion year old meteorite dust

Scientists at the European Space Agency (ESA) have turned to their love of LEGO brick building when designing launch pads and shelters for astronauts visiting the moon, as part of the Artemis program.

To test whether space materials could be used to create structures, the team 3D printed similar to LEGO bricks with meteorite dust to see if could still be used as a building block on small scale versions of structures.

The resulting LEGO Space Bricks will now go on display in the LEGO Store Leicester Square, to inspire the builders of tomorrow on how LEGO brick building can help solve out of this world problems.

The bricks will also be on display across the USA, Canada, UK, Germany, France, Denmark, Spain and Australia plus the LEGO House, in Billund, Denmark

The real structures will be built on the moon, using materials found there, but they first needed to understand if a space material could even be made into building blocks and they needed to do this on a small scale.

The space material on the moon is regolith, but there is only a very small sample available on Earth, collected from the Apollo mission. So, the team turned to another, very similar space material – meteorites, which they ground up into dust and mixed with a small amount of polylactide and regolith simulant and used this to 3D print bricks similar to LEGO bricks– making the ESA Space Bricks.

The meteorite they used is approximately 4.5 billion years old and was original discovered in North-West Africa in 2000 and is technically classed as a L3-6. It is a brecciated stone which has many different elements incorporated within it, such as large metal grains, inclusions, chondrules and other stone meteorite elements.


LEGO Space Bricks
European Space Agency 3D prints LEGO bricks from 4.5 billion year old meteorite dust Case

Talking about the LEGO Space Bricks, ESA Science Officer, Aidan Cowley said:

Our teams are working towards the future of space travel and take inspiration from not just what’s above us, but also what we can find on Earth. 

No-one has ever built a structure on the moon, so we have to work out not only how we build them but what we build them out of as we can’t take any materials with us. My team and I team love creative construction and had the idea to explore whether space dust could be formed into a brick similar to a LEGO brick so we could test different building techniques. The result is amazing and whilst the bricks may look a little rougher than usual, importantly the clutch power still works, enabling us to play and test our designs.

The ESA LEGO Space Bricks will be on display in the LEGO Store, Leicester Square from 24th June to 20th September. To find out more about the ESA Space Bricks and see the exciting range of LEGO Space sets, visit www.LEGO.com/Space

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