US space agency Nasa has selected Texas 3D printing and robotics firm Icon, Danish architect Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and New York space architecture company SEArch+ to create a space-based construction system to support moon exploration.
The contract is part of Nasa’s Artemis programme, which aims to make a manned expedition to the Moon by 2024. Later voyages will, it is hoped, establish facilities for sustainable surface exploration, including permanent lunar structures that are able to provide thermal, radiation and micrometeorite protection.
Before then, Icon will test candidate technologies using materials that simulate lunar dust.
Jason Ballard, Icon’s co-founder, said: "Building humanity’s first home on another world will be the most ambitious construction project in human history and will push science, engineering, technology and architecture to literal new heights.
"Nasa’s investment in space-age technologies like this can not only help to advance humanity’s future in space, but also to solve very real, vexing problems we face on Earth. We are honoured to begin our research and development on Icon’s "Project Olympus" and the "Olympus Construction System".
Image courtesy of BIG
Bjarke Ingels, said: "To explain the power of architecture, "formgiving" is the Danish word for design, which literally means to give form to that which has not yet been given form. This becomes fundamentally clear when we venture beyond Earth and begin to imagine how we are going to build and live on entirely new worlds.
"With Icon we are pioneering new frontiers – both materially, technologically and environmentally. The answers to our challenges on Earth very well might be found on the Moon."
In August 2020, Icon raised $35m in funding from investors included BIG, Cielo Property Group and Emaar.
Top image courtesy of SEArch+