NASA Has Awarded A $57M Contract To Build Roads On The Moon

NASA has given ICON a $57 million contract to develop 3D-printing building technology that will be required to build pieces needed for living on the moon, such as roads, launchpads, and housing as part of a lunar base.

“In order to explore other worlds, we need innovative new technologies adapted to those environments and our exploration needs,” said the director of technology maturation at NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, Niki Werkheiser.

“Pushing this development forward with our commercial partners will create the capabilities we need for future missions.”

ICON, based in Austin, plans to build a massive 3D printer that can be carried to the moon and used to build a lunar base out of lunar elements.

“ICON’s Olympus system is intended to be a multi-purpose construction system primarily using local lunar and martian resources as building materials to further the efforts of NASA and commercial organizations to establish a sustained lunar presence,” ICON explained.

Project Olympus is part of NASA’s Artemis program, which promises a long-term human exploration of the moon. In addition, the infrastructure is intended to enable future human residency on the moon.

“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,” said ICON co-founder Jason Ballard.

“We’re pleased that our research and engineering has demonstrated that such systems are indeed possible, and we look forward to making that possibility a reality,” Ballard continued.

“The final deliverable of this contract will be humanity’s first construction on another world, and that will be a pretty special achievement.”

The contract, issued under the third phase of NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, expands on funds awarded to ICON and design firm BIG in 2020 to develop a framework for making 3D-printed buildings for living on the moon.

ICON is also working on Mars Dune Alpha, a 3D-printed building designed to replicate life on Mars, alongside NASA and BIG.

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