A contract of $57.2 million by NASA to a construction tech and 3D-printing firm will aid in the research and development of space-based construction systems relying on lunar and Martian resources as building materials, supporting planned exploration of the Moon and beyond.
The funding goes to the construction tech and large-scale 3D printing firm ICON, as part of Phase III of NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, building upon previous NASA and Department of Defense funding for the firm’s Project Olympus.
NASA plans to prepare the Moon to be the first off-Earth site for sustainable surface exploration through its Artemis program. Building a sustainable presence on the Moon requires more than rockets. For a sustained lunar presence, robust infrastructure will need to be built on the Moon that provide better thermal, radiation, and micrometeorite protection. ICON’s development plans are following a “live off the land” approach by prioritizing the use of in-situ / native materials found on the Moon. From landing pads to habitats, these collective efforts are driven by the need to make humanity a spacefaring civilization.
In 2021, ICON was also awarded a subcontract through Jacobs supporting NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) as part of NASA’s Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog (CHAPEA) and delivered the world’s first and only simulated Mars surface 3D-printed habitat. Designed by architecture firm BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group, Mars Dune Alpha is located at NASA’s Johnson Space Center and will aid in long-duration science missions.
“To change the space exploration paradigm from ‘there and back again’ to ‘there to stay,’ we’re going to need robust, resilient, and broadly capable systems that can use the local resources of the Moon and other planetary bodies. We’re pleased that our research and engineering to-date has demonstrated that such systems are indeed possible, and we look forward to now making that possibility a reality,” says Jason Ballard, ICON co-founder and CEO. “The final deliverable of this contract will be humanity’s first construction on another world, and that is going to be a pretty special achievement.”
2 comments on “NASA awards $57.2M contract for development of construction system on the Moon”
There are a couple of thoughts that come to mind. 1) The abilities and progress of the human spirit appear to be endless and without boundaries. Although this is one heck of an unbelievable undertaking, it leads me to my second thought. 2) Have we ransacked Mother Earth so much that we now have to find alternate planets and systems to destroy for our own preservation. A very mixed bag of emotions and thoughts are within me. Great for the progress and abilities but concerned that we, including myself, have not learned to live within our means and will destroy another planet. How many of us have stretched our credit cards to the limits? Just an example of how WE do not contain ourselves.
Do not get me wrong, I am not preaching. Just some self-reflection is all. Food for thought.
Agree totally! Ambitious humans all for the real sake of money and prosperity (covert sake-exploration for the good of mankind), in the end have a narrow view of things and a strong unilateral tendency to ruin the earth and its atmosphere for all of humankind!