Regolith is abundant on the lunar surface and is desirable for use with in situ resource processes as well as for construction purposes. The manipulating, excavating, mining, hauling, dumping, and processing of regolith on the lunar surface is critical in order to establish a sustained human presence on the Moon and to build the necessary infrastructure. Due to the extreme environment on the lunar surface these machines will need to be remotely or autonomously operated, reliable with minimal or autonomous maintenance and able to run for a long duration of time when no crew is on the lunar surface.
NASA is working to establish a permanent human presence on the Moon within the next decade to uncover new scientific discoveries and lay the foundation for private companies to build a lunar economy. NASA is currently working to build and identify scientific instruments and technology demonstrations for Moon deliveries by U.S. companies in the near future. These deliveries will help them learn more about the Moon and provide opportunities to test new lander technologies. At the same time, NASA will begin to develop increasingly larger, more capable, and reusable landers for humans that can carry more cargo and land more precisely. Future landers also will carry large roving instrument kits to locate life-sustaining and mission-enabling resources on the Moon and collecting and returning samples. In support of this effort NASA would like to determine the current state of the art in terrestrial technologies and processes that could accelerate NASA’s exploration timeline.
Solutions should be suitable for use in a lunar environment with the associated extreme conditions including temperature, low-gravity, vacuum, and seismic activity.
Solutions should be remotely or autonomously operated with minimal or autonomous maintenance.
Solutions should be able to run for long periods of time when no crew is on the lunar surface.
Possible Solution Areas:
- Lightweight manufacturing, mining and assembly equipment.
- Manufacturing process suitable for classes of in-situ lunar materials such as carved rock, regolith, metals, ceramics, glasses, polymers, and cementitious materials.
- Suitable manufacturing processes for surface infrastructure elements, such as unpressurized shelters, pressurized habitats and labs, berms, roads, and landing pads including (but not limited to):
- Brickmaking (and associated mortars)
- Molten regolith fiber pulling
- Additive construction using cementitious materials