Here's the crazy plan to start building an inflatable habitat on the Moon in 2024

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The Moon In Numbers

Last year, the European Space Agency (ESA) made history by landing the first ever spacecraft — called Philae — on a comet.

The ESA's next big mission for the history books: Building the first Moon habitat located in the Shackleton crater — a 2.6-miles hole at the lunar south pole.

On June 7, ESA released a video describing how it plans to use cutting-edge technology such as 3D printers and inflatable habitats to accomplish this, with the goal of supporting up to four astronauts at a time inside the shelter.

What's more, the future head of ESA, Johann-Dietrich Wörner, says the agency wants to start construction on the habitat, which it's calling "Lunarville," by as early as 2024.

Europe has never soft-landed anything on the Moon before. Only the US, USSR, and China can lay claim to that feat. ESA hopes to change that very soon: In 2018 it's planning to send a Lunar Lander to the Moon's south pole. The mission will be a precursor to ESA's bigger construction plans.

As early as 2024, provided enough funding is gathered over the next nine years, ESA will then send another spacecraft to the lunar south pole to begin construction of the first lunar base in human history. The lander will contain everything ESA needs to being including an inflatable dome and robots with 3D printers.

First, ESA will deploy the inflatable dome on the surface:

esa1With the dome in place, 3D-printing robots will then build an outer layer around the dome from lunar dirt and dust:

esa2This layer will completely cover the dome, protecting it and future human inhabitants from cosmic radiation and meteor impacts:

esa3Scientists are already testing 3D printers out for this task. In 2013, a UK-based 3D-printing company called Monolite, designed this 1.5-ton structure (pictured below) from material similar to lunar dust.

"First, we needed to mix the simulated lunar material with magnesium oxide," Enrico Dini, founder of Monolite, said in an ESA statement. "This turns it into 'paper' we can print with."

1.5_tonne_building_block_produced_as_a_demonstrationWhile construction on Lunarville could begin as early as 2024, ESA still has major steps to take before it considers sending astronauts to live in the moon habitat for months at a time.

"A permanent shuttle service needs to be established in the case of medical emergencies," Wörner told the online tabloid Mirror.

ESA said that its lunar base could replace the International Space Station as the new base for astronauts to experience life in deep-space. If this turns out to be the case, the astronauts will only get to enjoy zero-gravity somersaults during the two-day trip to the base.

You can check out ESA's video about Lunarville below:

NOW WATCH: Here's What Would Happen If We Nuked The Moon

See Also:

LEARN MORE: Europe Wants To Build A Human Colony On The Dark Side Of The Moon

If you're into space, check out images taken of our planet from up above:

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Pics of earth from space (Earth Day)
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Here's the crazy plan to start building an inflatable habitat on the Moon in 2024
A large lightning strike on Earth lights up solar panels on the International Space Station in this NASA picture taken by astronaut Kjell Lindgren released September 2, 2015. REUTERS/NASA/Kjell Lindgren/Handout via Reuters THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
A photo taken by Expedition 46 flight engineer Tim Peake of the European Space Agency (ESA) aboard the International Space Station shows Italy, the Alps, and the Mediterranean on January, 25, 2016. REUTERS/NASA/Tim Peake/Handout ATTENTION EDITORS - FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
A photo taken by European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Tim Peake aboard the International Space Station shows an Aurora over northern Canada, taken from a point just north of Vancouver, January 20, 2016. The Canadian Rockies, Banff and Jasper national parks are visible in the foreground. The Bright lights of Edmonton, Red Deer and Calgary (left of center) are also visible. REUTERS/NASA/Tim Peake/Handout ATTENTION EDITORS - FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California, home to Super Bowl 50, as seen from the International Space Station, February 7, 2016. Expedition 46 Commander Scott Kelly, who took the photo, wrote, "Got to see the #SuperBowl in person after all! But at 17,500MPH, it didn't last long." REUTERS/NASA/Scott Kelly/Handout ATTENTION EDITORS - FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
The robotic arm in Japan's Kibo laboratory successfully deploys two combined satellites from Texas universities from the International Space Station, January 29, 2016. The pair of satellites -- AggieSat4 built by Texas A&M University students, and BEVO-2 built by University of Texas students -- together form the Low Earth Orbiting Navigation Experiment for Spacecraft Testing Autonomous Rendezvous and Docking (LONESTAR) investigation. REUTERS/NASA/Tim Peake/Handout ATTENTION EDITORS - FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS

December 8, 2015

Scott Kelly ‏(@StationCDRKelly): "Day 256. #MilkyWay births 7 new stars a year, so 2 star births to go. #GoodNight from @space_station! #YearInSpace"

December 16, 2015

Scott Kelly (‏@StationCDRKelly): "#EarthArt Get over your mountains with rock and grit. #YearInSpace"

December 3, 2015

Scott Kelly ‏(@StationCDRKelly): "Day 251. Greetings to my friends in #Macedonia. #GoodNight from @space_station! @kevinbleyer"

Scott Kelly ‏(@StationCDRKelly): "#Auckland #NewZealand, Sorry we don't see you much during your day but you look great down there. #YearInSpace"

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, who recently past the halfway mark of his one-year mission on the International Space Station, photographed the Nile River during a nighttime flyover. Kelly (@StationCDRKelly) wrote, "Day 179. The #Nile at night is a beautiful sight for these sore eyes. Good night from @space_station! #YearInSpace." (Photo via NASA)

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly captured images and video from the International Space Station during an early morning flyover of the United States. Sharing with his social media followers, Kelly wrote, "Clear skies over much of the USA today. #GoodMorning from @Space_Station! #YearInSpace." (Photo via NASA)

An astronaut aboard the International Space Station took this photograph of small island cays in the Bahamas and the prominent tidal channels cutting between them. For astronauts, this is one of the most recognizable points on the planet.

The string of cays — stretching 14.24 kilometers (8.9 miles) in this image — extends west from Great Exuma Island (just outside the image to the right). Exuma is known for being remote from the bigger islands of The Bahamas, and it is rich with privately owned cays and with real pirate history (including Captain Kidd).

(Photo via NASA, Caption via M. Justin Wilkinson, Texas State University, Jacobs Contract at NASA-JSC)

Kjell Lindgren (@astro_kjell): "#London. Beautiful in the daylight, even prettier at night."

MANICOUAGAN CRATER, CANADA

(photo: ESA)

Venice Lagoon, Italy

Photo: NASA Goddard Photo/Flickr

Ocean Sand, Bahamas

Photo: NASA Goddard Photo/Flickr

Pico de Orizaba, Mexico (NASA, International Space Station, 02/10/11)

Photo: NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center/Flickr

Eruption Plume, Kliuchevskoi Volcano, Russia (NASA, International Space Station, 11/16/13)

Photo: NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center/Flickr

Kavir Desert, Central Iran (NASA, International Space Station, 02/14/14)

Photo: NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center/Flickr

Lagoons and Reefs of New Caledonia

Photo: NASA Goddard Photo/Flickr

Typhoon Neoguri (NASA, International Space Station, 07/07/14)

Photo: NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center/Flickr

Sunset Over Earth (NASA, International Space Station Science, 11/23/09)

Photo: NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center/Flickr

Brasilia, Brazil at Night (NASA, International Space Station, 01/08/11)

Photo: NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center/Flickr

Banks Peninsula, New Zealand (NASA, International Space Station, 05/31/14)

Photo: NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center/Flickr

Ice Floes, Kamchatka Coast, Russia (NASA, International Space Station, 03/15/12)

Photo: NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center/Flickr

Coastlines of the Southern Baltic Sea (NASA, International Space Station, 06/15/14)

Photo: NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center/Flickr

Port Aransas and the Intracoastal Waterway, Texas (NASA, International Space Station, 03/22/13)

Photo: NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center/Flickr

Typhoon Halong (NASA, International Space Station, 08/05/14)

Photo: NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center/Flickr

Bowknot Bend, Utah (NASA, International Space Station, 01/22/14)

Photo: NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center/Flickr

Lightning From Space, and Red Sprites at Night (NASA, International Space Station, 12/13/13)

Photo: NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center/Flickr

Acklins Island, Bahamas (NASA, International Space Station, 11/16/10)

Photo: NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center/Flickr

Cape Cod, Massachusetts (NASA, International Space Station Science, 03/14/10)

Photo: NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center/Flickr

Ounianga Lakes in the Sahara Desert (NASA, International Space Station Science, 11/14/09)

Photo: NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center/Flickr

Mt. Ruapehu, New Zealand

Aurora Near Australia (NASA, International Space Station, 07/15/14)

Photo: NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center/Flickr

Nile river viewed from space

(Photo via Getty)

Atlantic Coast (NASA, International Space Station, 09/20/13)

(Photo: NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center/Flickr)

Archive: Fjorded Coastline, Greenland (Archive: NASA, Space Shuttle, 08/12/97)

(Photo: NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center/Flickr)

Japan, Narita, View of earth. (Photo by: JTB/UIG via Getty Images) (Photo by: JTB Photo/UIG via Getty Images)
The Yarlung Zangpo Grand Canyon (or Tsangpo Gorge) in Tibet is the deepest canyon in the world, and longer than the Grand Canyon. February 25, 2004. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
The city of Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland, and lies along the Firth of Forth. April 29, 2006. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
The place in the United States where four states come together: the four corners area in the western United States. The states of Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico share a common point. June 11, 2001. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
Salzkammergut, Austria. Large parts of the region were listed as a World Heritage Site in 1997. June 22, 2003. Satellite image. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JULY 18: A view of the Earth during a solar eclipse. The shadow of the Moon can be seen darkening part of Earth. This shadow moves across the Earth at nearly 2,000 kilometers per hour. Only observers near the center of the dark circle see a total solar eclipse - others see a partial eclipse where only part of the Sun appears blocked by the Moon. This spectacular picture of the Aug. 11, 1999 solar eclipse was one of the last ever taken from the Mir space station. Mir was decommissioned after more than ten years of use. *Image Credit*: Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (Photo by NASA/SSPL/Getty Images)
IN SPACE - AUGUST 31: In this satellite image provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Tropical Storm Ernesto (R) is shown at 9:45 am EDT is shown east of northern Florida while Hurricane John heads towards Mexico's west coast August 31, 2006. (Photo by NOAA via Getty Images)
AUGUST 11: This satellite handout from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows Tropical Storm Charley bearing down on Jamaica the morning of August 11, 2004. The storm is expected to cross through Jamaica and Cuba before making its way into the Gulf of Mexico later in the week. (Photo by NOAA via Getty Images)
Rub Al Khali, a sand desert South East of Saudi Arabia ; sand dunes are sculptured and moved by the winds, in blue the argillakeeous subsoil, and in white the salt crusts left out by the oueds in the rainy season., Rub Al Khali Desert, Saudi Arabia, True Colour Satellite Image (Photo by Planet Observer/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
True colour satellite image of Oceania with cloud coverage. This image in Lambert Conformal Conic projection was compiled from data acquired by LANDSAT 5 & 7 satellites., Oceania With Cloud Coverage, True Colour Satellite Image (Photo by Planet Observer/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
True colour satellite image of Africa with major rivers. This image in Lambert Azimuthal Equal Area projection was compiled from data acquired by LANDSAT 5 & 7 satellites., Africa With Major Rivers, True Colour Satellite Image (Photo by Planet Observer/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
True colour satellite image of Europe. This image in Lambert Conformal Conic projection was compiled from data acquired by LANDSAT 5 & 7 satellites., Europe, True Colour Satellite Image (Photo by Planet Observer/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
True colour satellite image of Asia with major rivers. This image in Lambert Azimuthal Equal Area projection was compiled from data acquired by LANDSAT 5 & 7 satellites., Asia With Major Rivers, True Colour Satellite Image (Photo by Planet Observer/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
True colour satellite image of North America with major rivers. This image in Lambert Conformal Conic projection was compiled from data acquired by LANDSAT 5 & 7 satellites., North America With Major Rivers, True Colour Satellite Image (Photo by Planet Observer/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
True colour satellite image of South America. This image in Lambert Azimuthal Equal Area projection was compiled from data acquired by LANDSAT 5 & 7 satellites., South America, True Colour Satellite Image (Photo by Planet Observer/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED : Clouds and sunglint as seen during the STS-96 mission from the Space Shuttle Discovery. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, UNITED STATES: A view of the Puna de Atacama area of Argentina 24 Janaury from US space shuttle Endeavour at an altitude of 160 nautical miles as part of EarthKAM involving 51 middle schools from three nations. Endeavour is docked with the Russian space station Mir for five days of joint science operations and transfer of supplies to the Russian space station. AFP PHOTO/NASA (Photo credit should read AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

Cloud-Free View of Iceland

Photo: NASA Goddard Photo/Flickr

Operation IceBridge Turns Five

Photo: NASA Goddard Photo/Flickr

The Turbulent Bering Sea

Photo: NASA Goddard Photo/Flickr

Argentina

Photo: NASA Goddard Photo/Flickr

Sarychev Peak Eruption, Russia

Photo: NASA Goddard Photo/Flickr

Moon over northeast Greenland

Photo: NASA Goddard Photo/Flickr

Grey Glacier, Chile (NASA, International Space Station Science, 06/04/07)

Photo: NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center/Flickr

Alaska Mountains

Photo: NASA Goddard Photo/Flickr

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