The final frontier: NASA to fund Moon-based construction

By Catrin JonesMarch 01, 2022

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has announced funding for the development of construction technologies to help humans live and work on the Moon.

Three universities, the Colorado School of Mines, Auburn University and Missouri University of Science & Technology, will each receive $2 million to use for research into the use of lunar resources for construction and advanced electronics that could continue to function in the extreme cold temperatures found on the Moon.

The research teams will each have two years to complete the development of the chosen technologies.

Illustration of Artemis astronauts on the Moon

Through its Tipping Point program, NASA is also investing $200 million to help push new space-based technologies to the market - with Moon-based infrastructure again high on the agenda.

Under the program, NASA will award funding to multiple companies using Space Act Agreements.

The investment will help companies develop technology for the lunar space station and offer businesses an opportunity to work with agency experts or use facilities through a separate Announcement of Collaboration Opportunity.

More than $500 million has been awarded to 50 projects since NASA began the Tipping Point program back in 2015.

The focus will be on the technological development for space infrastructure and capabilities for the Moon and near-Earth space – looking in particular at autonomous construction on the lunar surface. NASA has also said they will consider proposals for infrastructure and capabilities in Earth’s orbit.

Advancing robotic technology for construction in space will minimize the risk for astronauts in dangerous environments and will enable NASA to use technology to extract resources, as part of its Artemis program, which will include two lunar missions.

Late last year, Komatsu announced it was selected by the Japanese government to work on producing construction equipment that could operate on the moon. The company is using digital twin technology to recreate site conditions and machines to do so.

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