Astroport Space Technologies announced on Friday that it has been awarded a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Phase 1 Small Business Technology Transfer contract (STTR) for the development of its lunar regolith melting technology for constructing landing pads on the lunar surface.
The company is a deep space technology space start-up founded in 2020 and headquartered in San Antonio, Texas. Astroport Space Technologies is a subsidiary of Exploration Architecture Corporation (XArc).
"With NASA's return to the Moon with outposts and base camps, and commercial ventures for mining and even space tourism, we see a market for space civil engineering construction developing within the next decade,” commented Sam Ximenes, XArc founder and CEO.
“With this initial small contract, we hope to plant the seeds for a San Antonio industry to become known for expertise in space construction processes and manufacturing. We believe San Antonio's heavy construction industry should start positioning now for access to this future market," Ximenes added.
Astroport will partner with the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) to jointly develop technology for an induction furnace-nozzle for forming and placing lunar regolith bricks for landing pad construction. Lunar Regolith Melting and Lunar Regolith Binding stabilization and solidification technologies are required for manufacturing feedstock for lunar construction.
Astroport’s technology aims to address two of the most pressing challenges of space construction. Firstly, converting indigenous source material (regolith) into durable construction feedstock and secondly, creating robots to place and assemble the feedstock into surface structures such as landing pads, roads, and habitats.
Ximenes also stated that “Our robotics, cyber, and heavy construction industries all go into the mix of knowledge of design and processes needed to support space architecture and construction on planetary surfaces.”