We propose a construction system that magnetically beneficiates the soil to create a layered surface then sinters it relying on antenna near-field energy absorbance. The layering will consist of a highly microwave-susceptible, highly thermal-conductive top layer, on top of a poorly microwave-susceptible, poorly thermal-conductive sublayer. The antenna system will be optimized for magnetically dominant or electrically dominant reactive near fields as required for maximum absorbance in the beneficiated top layer. These innovations will ensure microwave energy is maximally deposited into the upper, sintering region with minimal deposition below that layer, and that it is maximally retained in that region rather than conducting deeper in the soil where temperatures do not reach sintering levels. The system will also use multiple wavelengths corresponding to the changing absorbance of lunar soil as a function of temperature during the heating process. The entire system (excavating, beneficiating, laying and compacting layers, and sintering) can be packaged onto a single robot for single-pass construction of landing pads and roads, or these functions can be separated into distinct excavation, beneficiation, and construction machines for larger-scale efficiency in future operations. This system will save the exploration program hundreds of millions (potentially billions) of dollars by reducing sintering energy by a factor of 2 or more, recouping the gigantic time-value of the lunar surface power systems.
NASA can use this system to build landing pads, roads, and regolith shields over outposts on the lunar surface. Since lander blast mitigation is a major problem, there is high probability of using this system early in a lunar surface program.
There are several companies planning commercial lunar operations on the Moon and multiple nations have interest in lunar operations. They will need to build landing pads for blast mitigation, so a company that provides a landing pad construction business will have commercial opportunity. The U.S. Congress has recently passed a law requiring blast mitigation.