NASA selects a San Antonio company to assist with creating a lunar landing pad using moon dust.
NASA selects a San Antonio company to assist By the late 2030s, NASA hopes to send an astronaut to Mars. It must first construct a lunar base as a stopover, though. And it needs a landing pad in order to construct a lunar base. It needs a space architect in order to construct a landing pad.
Sam Ximenes is the man behind Astroport Space Technologies, a San Antonio-based company that recently received a second small business award from NASA to carry out its ongoing study with UTSA on how to create robots that can construct a landing pad on the moon. The technology is available, said Ximenes. It’s no longer Star Trek. It is not fiction. This is true.
Last year, Astroport received its first NASA contract, which enabled it to create a furnace that could liquefy moon dust and turn it into Lego-like bricks. How to feed the furnace is a related issue that is being addressed by this most recent contract.
It’s essential. Similar to how a landing helicopter blasts grass, but at a far higher velocity, the dirt around a spacecraft’s landing or launch site on the moon is propelled into the air. According to Ximenes, the energy is so intense that the dust enters orbit and creates a cloud around the moon. “That wrecks chaos and puts arriving spacecraft in jeopardy.”
Additionally, the shower of high-speed moon dust might sandblast any already-existing machinery on the moon, including tractors and dwellings, in addition to the persistent smokescreen it might produce. The project’s research collaborator is UTSA. The research is being conduct under the direction of professors Sazzad Bin-Shafique and Ibukun Awolusi, with graduate students also participating.
Expertise will also be provided by the Australian University of Adelaide, which houses a lab for lunar simulation and a center for space research. Venturi Astrolab, a California-based aerospace company, will offer guidance on how to attach the system to a robotic rover. According to Ximenes, the recent upsurge in space research and exploration is the result of innovations made by for-profit organizations like Space X that have reduced the price of orbit-to-orbit travel.
According to Ximenes, a space economy is already developing as businesses are drawn to the potential for mining in space. The next step toward the ultimate objective of reaching Mars is the lunar surface.