The "magnificent desolation" of the Moon might offer some great views, but otherwise it's a lousy place to live. Human explorers would need protection from a constant bombardment of radiation and extreme temperature shifts. A new video shows how we can inexpensively build an ideal shelter with robotic 3D printers.

The concept video, produced by the European Space Agency and the London architectural firm Foster + Partners, suggests that the ideal spot for a future base would be the rim of Shackleton Crater at the lunar South Pole. The Moon's rotation is such that the Sun only grazes its poles at low angles. As a result, there would be nearly constant light along the crater's rim beside regions of permanent shadow. That makes it prime real estate, since the site would allow for plentiful solar power and relief from the hot and cold temperature extremes found across most of the Moon.

The construction lander would carry a large cylinder containing an inflatable dome and two mobile, robotic 3D printers. The dome would serve as the foundation for the construction of a hard shell made from lunar regolith, while the cylinder would become the airlock. Not a luxury accommodation, but frontier living has never been easy.