NASA has taken a big step towards building its first moon base. You can’t build a house without tools, and that’s as true on the Moon as it is on Earth. To complicate matters further, like all of the other gear you use in space, Moon-based building supplies are quite complex.
A Texas-based company has received a $57 million contract to design the equipment NASA will need to construct its initial lunar habitats. ICON, which has already pioneered advanced construction methods on Earth, has been trusted with designing the gear NASA needs to build a base on the Moon.
The company’s previous projects include the world’s first 3D printed house. It is worth noting that numerous companies have made similar claims, but whether you build the first or the hundredth it still requires the development of some cutting-edge building tech.
As for the actual building materials, they’re already up there. The orbital abodes will be constructed with materials gathered from the surface of the Moon itself. ICON will use actual samples of lunar soil brought back by the Apollo missions. The company will run experiments on how the soil behaves in moon-like conditions.
The ability to build on the moon is vital to NASA’s future plans. Howard Hu, head of the Orion lunar spacecraft program, has previously announced plans to have humans living on the moon by 2030.
It’s all part of NASA’s Artemis Program, which aims to take human’s back to the moon for the first time in 50 years, establish a permanent base there, and also construct an ISS like “gateway” that can be used as a staging point for future trips to Mars and beyond.
Source: NASA via Space.com