When the name “Deloitte” is attached to futuristic predictions about any kind of industrial matters, most St. Cloud readers grow less skeptical than would otherwise be the case. After all, Deloitte’s quarter-million financial services professionals earn their keep by accurately advising enterprises worldwide on which way the commercial wind is going to be blowing five, ten, or 20 years hence. The folks in charge of the worldwide enterprises are keen that their capital expenditure planning won’t look stupid five, ten, or 20 years hence.

So when a Deloitte Center for Financial Services blog describes the excitement a typical child will display when, in 2030, he’s about to “take his first trip to the moon”—well, that’s a blog that’s bound to get any St. Cloud readers’ attention. It got mine because it’s contained in a blog about the future of real estate and housing. 

The housing in question will be on the moon. Just 14 years from now.

The basis for this science-fictiony scenario is the European Space Agency’s plan for constructing a “moon village” on the lunar surface beginning in the 2020s. Since it’s extremely unlikely that anyone—Europeans or Americans or Asians or anyone else—will be able to ship construction crews up there on short notice, the first rhetorical question Deloitte poses is, “But who will build all this?”  If Deloitte is right, the answer could well become a major factor in the future of St. Cloud’s housing industry. Perhaps the major factor. 

The European Space Agency plans to use robotic 3D printers. 

Here it might be useful to again review the whole 3D printer thing. My own opinion is that 3D printers are called “printers” just to get our attention. Everyone knows that what traditional printers print is decidedly two-dimensional. Technically, the thickness of ink and paper may constitute three dimensions—but they’re more flat than not. So “printing” a gun or spare auto part used to be preposterous, until inventors figured out how to spray jets of successive layers of stuff on top of each other to create fully dimensional objects. 

That’s 3D printing, and it’s how the housing on the moon can be done by robots. A footnote in the Deloitte blog points to the TechTimes website, which spells out the details. First revealed in a conference of 200 scientists in the Netherlands, the timeline is aggressive. “As planned, robots will arrive on the moon first to allow for human explorers to land later…”  

The “stuff” the base will be built from is moon dirt (called “regolith”). They are already testing 3D printers able to produce 6.5 feet to 11 feet of material in one hour. According to the ESA’s director general, at that rate, “the entire settlement can be produced in just one week.” By the robots.

You can see why having Deloitte verify that this whole thing isn’t just an internet practical joke is an important part of the story. Because if the moon robots can build a settlement on the moon in “just one week,” what about settlements in St. Cloud? What about housing…and strip malls? Isn’t St. Cloud’s regolith at least as high quality as the moon’s?  

If this out-of-this-world planning has even one foot in reality, the major implications for the future of St. Cloud housing and construction are worth pondering. Perhaps later. For the moment, though, we have a great selection of non-robotically built, regolith-free St. Cloud properties. Call me for the down-to-earth details!