Building airstrips, habitats, and roads on the Moon will be very different from how it is done on Earth.
According to POT, the robots should be lightweight, but capable of digging with reduced gravity. Additionally, a self-contained building system will be needed, without the help of astronauts.
As part of the Artemis program, NASA has a concept of the necessary elements that will allow for a sustained presence on the Moon.
NASA is considering installing a lunar ground vehicle, habitable mobility platform or lunar RV, and habitat on the Moon’s surface by the end of the decade.
But exactly how is NASA looking to build on the Moon? The solution could come from Austin, Texas.
Spatial construction system
The US space agency is working with the ICON company, a building technologies company, to drive the research and development of a space building system.
The objective is that the mechanism serves for the future exploration of the Moon, but also of Mars.
ICON has already developed the printing of 3D printed house communities and structures on Earth. Specifically, he participated in the construction of social housing in the Mexican town of Tenosique, Tabasco, a story we tell in Digital Trends in Spanish.
The company also participated in the 3D Printed Habitat Challenge. According to NASA, his vision demonstrated a construction method and technologies that could be adapted for applications beyond Earth.
“Short-term research and development will help ensure that we can expand construction capabilities on other worlds when the time comes,” said Niki Werkheiser, executive of NASA’s Game Changing Development Program.
Large-scale 3D printer
Another US government agency is interested in ICON technology and its applications on Earth.
The United States Air Force awarded him a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract, to expand 3D printing of habitable and viable structures.
Part of the contract, to which NASA contributed funds, will explore the commonalities between applications on the ground and off-Earth.
ICON will work under the Moon to Mars Planetary Autonomous Construction Technologies (MMPACT) project, to simulate the lunar soil with various processing and printing technologies.
“We want to increase the level of readiness of the technology and test systems to show that it would be feasible to develop a large-scale 3D printer, which could build infrastructure on the Moon or Mars,” explained Corky Clinton, associate director of the Office of Science. and Marshall Technology.
one of two
The team will use what we learn from testing the lunar simulant to design, develop and demonstrate prototype elements for a full-scale construction system.
Based on the progress of the research, NASA could grant additional funding to ICON and explore the opportunity for an in situ test on the lunar surface.
“Building humanity’s first home on another world will be the most ambitious building project in human history and will drive science,” said Jason Ballard, ICON Co-Founder and CEO.
ICON has hired two architecture firms as partners for the bold project: BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group, renowned for its iconic international architecture, and SEArch + (Space Exploration Architecture), a company known for its “human-centered” designs. for space exploration.