NASA to fund Moon-based construction

By Catrin Jones01 March 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 US universities will each receive US$2 million 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 have two years to complete the development of the chosen technologies.

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

Illustration of Artemis astronauts on the Moon. NASA’s new Tipping Point opportunity and Announcement of Collaboration Opportunity seek to mature space technology, including those that could be used for living and working on the Moon for NASA’s Artemis astronauts. (Photo: NASA)

Under the programme, 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.

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 orbit.

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

More than half a billion US dollars have been awarded to 50 projects since NASA began the Tipping Point programme back in 2015.

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