NASA reveals its vision for landing pad, roads and habitats on the Moon

NASA have unveiled plans to invest in a technology company with the possibility to construct habitats, roads and landing pads on the Moon.

It's hoped that in time, they can use large 3D printers to construct buildings in space.

They have teamed up with ICON, a construction technologies company based in Texas on early research and development to support future exploration in space.

The company has 3D printed homes and structures on Earth and participated in NASA's 3D printed Habitat Challenge, showing methods that may be adaptable in our planets beyond our own.

The buildings and structures for places other than Earth will look different than the common construction sites we're used to seeing.

One example being excavation robots, who will need to be lightweight but capable of digging in reduce gravity.

A large-scale construction system could be used to work without astronauts, NASA has said.

As part of the Artemis program, NASA are looking for core surface elements needed to establish a sustained presence on the Moon. The concept will emphasise on mobility, allowing astronauts to explore more and complete science investigations.

The independent space agency is considering a lunar terrain vehicle, surface habitat and habitable mobility platform on the Moon by the end of the decade.

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By investing in advanced manufacturing, they hope to find and use available resources on Mars and the Moon to build out future infrastructure.

NASA's game changing development program executive, Niki Werkheiser, said: “To be successful in our future missions, we have to invest in new, cutting-edge technologies today.

“Near-term research and development will help ensure we can expand building capabilities on other worlds when the time comes.”

The US Air Force has also invested into ICON to expand 3D printing livable and workable structures through a dual-use Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract. The contract will explore similarities between Earth and off-Earth applications.

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ICON will work with NASA's Marshall Space Flight Centre, in Alabama, to test lunar soil simulants.

“We want to increase the technology readiness level and test systems to prove it would be feasible to develop a large-scale 3D printer that could 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 design, develop, and demonstrate prototype elements for a full-scale additive construction system.”

Jason Ballard, co-founder and CEO of ICON, said:“I am confident that learning to build on other worlds will also provide the necessary breakthroughs to solve housing challenges we face on this world.

"These are mutually reinforcing endeavors. Sometimes, for the biggest problems, it becomes necessary to look up at the sky and not only down at our feet.”

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