Today, NASA is functioning with ICON, a construction technologies company based in Austin, Texas, on early research and development of a space-based construction system that would support future exploration of the Moon and Mars. the corporate has 3D printed communities of homes and structures on Earth and took part in NASA’s 3D Printed Habitat Challenge, demonstrating a construction method and technologies which will be adaptable for applications beyond our home planet.
The process of building landing pads, habitats, and roads on the Moon will likely look different than the common construction site on Earth. Excavation robots, for one, will got to be lightweight yet capable of digging in reduced gravity. A large-scale construction system might be autonomous and equipped to figure without astronauts’ help.
“To achieve success in our future missions, we’ve to take a position in new, cutting-edge technologies today,” said Niki Werkheiser, NASA’s Game Changing Development program executive. The program is a component of the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate. “Near-term research and development will help ensure we will expand building capabilities on other worlds when the time comes.”
As a part of the Artemis program, NASA features a concept for the core surface elements needed to determine a sustained presence on the Moon, which emphasizes mobility to permit astronauts to explore more and conduct more science. NASA is considering fixing place a lunar terrain vehicle, habitable mobility platform or lunar RV, and surface habitat on the Moon by the top of the last decade . The agency is investing in advanced manufacturing – one among five industries of the longer term to enable space exploration and improve life on Earth – including technologies that would find and use available resources on the Moon and Mars to create out future infrastructure.
Another U.S. agency is curious about the technology and its applications here on Earth. The U.S. Air Force awarded ICON a dual-use Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract to expand 3D printing of livable and workable structures. a part of the contract, which NASA contributed funding to, will explore commonalities between Earth-based and off-Earth applications. ICON also will invest within the effort.
“We want to extend the technology readiness level and test systems to prove it might be feasible to develop a large-scale 3D printer that would build infrastructure on the Moon or Mars,” said Corky Clinton, associate director of Marshall’s Science and Technology Office. “The team will use what we learn from the tests with the lunar simulant to style , develop, and demonstrate prototype elements for a full-scale additive construction system.”
Based on the progress, NASA could award ICON additional funding and explore the chance of an in-situ test on the lunar surface.