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The Importance of 3D Printing to Ensuring the Viability of Interplanetary City Construction

The Importance of 3D Printing to Ensuring the Viability of Interplanetary City Construction


B.J. Murphy

Starting on March 26, members of the U.S. Transhumanist Party are taking part in the latest platform vote, which include 22 potential planks in total. Before the voting ends on April 2, I’d like to briefly discuss one of those potential planks – in particular, Section E3-G. Space Colonization. To be a little more clear, I wish to present a possible solution to one distinct question we’ll likely need to ask ourselves once actual space colonization efforts are underway.

A little over a year ago, a friend and fellow author Manu Saadia (author of Trekonomics: The Economics of Star Trek) posed a question to me about the viability of creating actual cities on other planets. It was, in his mind, one of the few things about Star Trek which seemed unrealistic, because of the fact that cities here on Earth thrive due to one important reason: imports/exports, i.e. resource exchange.

I’ll quote him below on his exact phrasing:

“[S]ettling a far away colony on Mars or a bunch of habitats in orbit is not a recipe for prosperity for these space-based outposts. Without fast and reliable means of exchange, I don’t see how these settlements could take full advantage of the network effects and of the endogenous dynamism of Earth’s great cities.”

He is correct in his assessment that, without the fast import and export of necessary resources, today’s cities simply wouldn’t survive. However, as I noted to him, I believe his strict reliance on economics, and much less so on technology, prevents him from understanding how interplanetary cities are still a viable prospect.

That is, he seems to completely ignore key technologies, such as 3D printing, which would directly address the current problem of importing and exporting resources from planet to planet. My own assessment was:

“Thanks to the company Made in Space, astronauts on the ISS are able to receive digital data from Earth that activates their 3D printer to print whatever supplies they need. It’s still in its infancy, but this really isn’t all that different from Star Trek’s teleportation technology.

Once it matures, I can easily see us establishing a base of developing trade agreements between different planets via 3D printing or other advanced technologies that’ll supersede 3D printing.”

If members of the U.S. Transhumanist Party were to successfully vote in favor of Section E3-G, I believe it will be our duty in discussing all of the obstacles that stand in between us and our space colonization aspirations. This brief article here will serve as only one possible solution, for which we should all discuss and consider as a Party.


B.J. Murphy is the Director of Social Media of the U.S. Transhumanist Party.