The Future of the Construction Industry
By Eric Sapien
Ten years ago few could imagine cell phones with touchscreens. During those times in the public’s mind a phone of the future had to have a physical keyboard and calling people was the only useful application a mobile phone was good for. Likewise, few can imagine construction companies in space. They are only seen for the purpose of making houses, shopping malls and office buildings. However, who dares to envision construction firms building hotels in orbit, moon bases and colonies on other planets? The construction industry has a future in space.
Japanese construction giant Shimizu is already making plans outside of Earth. They’re supporting the idea of a hotel in low orbit. The structure is planned to have a battery and collect solar energy to supply it with power. A platform to receive and depart vehicles. The guest rooms and public areas will serve tourists with all the amenities of a hotel. An elevator will link the hotel to the planet. It’s a profitable idea once space transportation is more reliable with low costs.
Shimizu is also trying to apply their knowledge for two more projects on the moon. The first one is figuring out how to build bases. Construction materials, construction systems and design of bases need further development for successful applications of moon bases. Materials need to perform in high radiation environment and easy to produce. Robotics have a critical role in civil engineering and 3D printing technology may even be essential to build structures on the moon. The benefits of moon bases will determine their design.
Next vision of Shimizu is the concept of a lunar ring collecting and transferring solar energy to Earth. Solar cells are put in place along the moon’s equator on the side always facing Earth. Then the stored solar power is beam to facilities on Earth converting it to usable energy. Basically, it is a solar power plant on the moon. Robotics, machines and A.I. can potentially make the plant work autonomously.
There are industries that we haven’t thought could go to space but eventually will play a big part in developing a new frontier for humanity. Who’s going to build the first hotel, create the first music concert or host the first game match in space? Not everything has been built or explored.