Extreme temperature fluctuations throughout the lunar day and night combined with the economic and environmental challenges of cislunar launch, transit, and deployment have impeded America’s ability to create the critical infrastructure needed to support in-situ construction and a sustained human and robotic presence on our nearest neighbor. The establishment of the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) and Artemis programs are channeling growth and investment into the nascent lunar economy, which is building demand for lunar activities. Critical infrastructure pieces must be established to support this growing demand, however, such as power, communication, and construction technologies. Consequently, Astrobotic proposes its Brick Ubiquitous and Itinerant Lunar Deposition (BUILD) system to produce, retrieve, and place building block elements for small to medium sized construction activities on the lunar surface.
The BUILD system is complementary to NASA’s Moon-to-Mars Planetary Autonomous Construction Technology (MMPACT) project. Whereas MMPACT is focused on harvesting materials from the lunar surface and using them to produce structures such as landing pads in the near term, Astrobotic can utilize the waste slag produced as a byproduct of molten regolith electrolysis used from oxygen production to create CAST (ceramic aggregate structural and thermal) elements. These CAST elements can then be used to construct structures such as small berms for blast shielding and thermal and radiation protection. The target requirements of the CAST elements produced in this project are as follows:
The BUILD system is an ideal technology for enabling in-space construction as a service, which would allow domestic and international government agencies, as well as lunar infrastructure companies to construct lunar surface structures. Astrobotic’s BUILD system has utility for NASA programs that require blast protection near launchpads or thermal and radiation shelters for robotic assets or human habitation.
Commercial lunar mining would benefit from simple walled structures that provide thermal and radiation shielding to enable long duration missions. International space agencies could commission the resulting construction services for blast protection near planetary bases. Astrobotic will also look to offer the resulting retrieval and placement system as a product for other robotic applications.