November 29, 2022
NASA has announced a contract for ICON, located in Austin, Texas, to develop construction technologies that could help build infrastructure such as landing pads, habitats, and roads on the surface of the Moon.
In recent years there has been a lot of buzz about harvesting resources on the Moon to supply human habitats, from converting brackish water ice known to exist there to consumable water, oxygen and rocket fuel, to mining mineral resources. How will humans live on the moon to do this kind of work?
“In order to explore other worlds, we need innovative new technologies adapted to those environments and our exploration needs,” said Niki Werkheiser, NASA director of technology maturation. “Pushing this development forward with our commercial partners will create the capabilities we need for future missions.”
The award continues ICON’s work under a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) dual-use contract with the U.S. Air Force, partly funded by NASA. The new NASA SBIR Phase III award will support the development of ICON’s Olympus construction system, which is designed to use local resources on the Moon and Mars as building materials.
The contract runs through 2028 and has a value of $57.2 million. ICON will work with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, under the Moon to Mars Planetary Autonomous Construction Technologies (MMPACT) project.
ICON 3D printed a 1,700-square-foot simulated Martian habitat, called Mars Dune Alpha, that will be used during NASA’s Crew Health and Performance Analog (CHAPEA) analog mission in 2023. ICON also competed in NASA’s 3D Printed Habitat Challenge. The company partnered with the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, and the team won a prize for 3D printing a structure that was tested for its ability to hold a seal, for strength, and for durability in temperature extremes.
For more details on the Space Technology Mission Directorate, visit the NASA website here.