As I can judge, none of the finalists in the NASA's 3D printed habitat challenge uses aerogel.

Why so? (given that you can 3D print aerogel)

One of the most daunting challenges to building structures in space, or on a body such as the Moon or Mars is the unavailability of good quality fabrication materials, so you either need to transport them from Earth at great cost, or transport processing equipment to make them from raw material already available in space.

Since aerogel can be remarkably space-filling, the mass of precursor per cubic meter of final product that would have to be transported from Earth for aerogel is a tiny fraction of that for conventional materials.

So I'd like to explore if 3D printed aerogels might be useful as a part of fabricated space habitats.

  • $\begingroup$ why would you want to use aerogel for a habitat? Does the 3D printing method needed for aerogels lend itself to habitat construction? $\endgroup$ – JCRM Aug 10 '18 at 12:30
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    $\begingroup$ It's cool to find out that aerogel can be 3D printed, but considering that habitats in space, or on the Moon or Mars have a serious radiation problem and people look for ways surround themselves with as much mass as possible, and that you might want enough strength to serve as a pressure vessel so you could have an atmosphere to breath and live in, why might anyone even remotely consider using aerogel? Can you think of an application where it might be useful instead? Or just change your question to ask if 3D printed aerogel might have any potential applications in space exploration? $\endgroup$ – uhoh Aug 10 '18 at 12:55
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh in the answer I'd like to learn exactly that for example aerogel can't stop radiation, did not think of it. On the other hand, it still could be partly carrier of the construction if they put anyway material produced from surface mineral anyway. $\endgroup$ – J. Doe Aug 10 '18 at 13:06
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    $\begingroup$ I've made some edits to your question that might make it more likely to receive an answer. How does this look? You can roll back, or you can edit further if you'd like to add something more. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Aug 10 '18 at 13:18
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    $\begingroup$ Aerogel is good for is lightweight and/or thin insulation. It is bulky to transport, and non-trivial to make, requiring atmospheric pressure and temperature control (the 3D printing adds another step). Rockwool is much easier to make in-situ, and a 3D printed mineral honeycomb would be a pretty good insulator. in an off-world colony space is not likely to be a critical factor. $\endgroup$ – JCRM Aug 10 '18 at 20:11

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