After December 1972, no astronaut has set foot on the moon again. However, NASA is preparing to return humans to the moon to expand our crewed exploration on the lunar surface. But unlike Apollo missions where astronauts spent only a few days before making their return trip to Earth, Artemis astronauts will be spending more days or even weeks on the moon before returning home. This implies that are getting closer to permanent lunar settlement.
Since several challenges may affect humans during a long-term stay on the moon, any space agency hoping to attain such a feat must find a means to overcome these numerous obstacles for the success of the mission. To stand a better chance of succeeding with future Artemis crewed missions, NASA is partnering with companies to build sophisticated systems ranging from high-tech communication systems to other powerful infrastructures including lunar mobile vehicles.
How NASA is collaborating to achieve a successful long-term stay on the moon for lunar settlement
NASA knew that sending humans to survive on another celestial body requires lots of effort and contributions from different companies. Many companies are working to build basic technology facilities for future astronauts to survive on the moon and build another home away from home.
Since there are several pressing challenges on the moon, different companies have devoted their resources and time to building technologies that solve each major problem on the moon. The list of companies building lunar technologies to address some of the most challenges on the lunar surface consists of the following.
Crescent Space Providing Solutions for Power Supply and communication
If astronauts cannot have a steady power supply and communicate effectively on the lunar surface, then the mission may not be successful. Hence, providing a solution for power supply and communication to the lunar crew is necessary. Crescent Space, a new Lockheed Martin subsidiary is reportedly building lunar technologies that will provide internet and GPS services on the moon.
These lunar services will enable astronauts to access steady power sources and have reliable communication mediums with mission control centers on Earth. This implies that future lunar explorers will depend less on NASA’s Deep Space Network mostly used in all space missions to communicate with Earth.
Experts reveal that the value of the lunar market will increase to about $100 billion in the next decade to come as upcoming Artemis missions will surely boost the space industry. Hence, if Crescent Space successfully complete the design of this futuristic technology and astronauts use them on the moon, we should be expecting the value of the company to also grow in the next ten years.
Astrobotic Building Solar Panels for Power Supply on the Lunar Base
Tapping the solar energy from the sun is one of the best ways to provide the crew with a steady power supply. NASA selected Astrobotic to design and build solar panels for power supply on the moon base. The company is developing these solar panels to be installed vertically to trap the sun’s rays when they fall into their cells.
Astrobotic is building these panels having the habitat location in mind. Since the moon’s south pole receives a small amount of sunlight above the horizon, the solar panels will take advantage of the smallest Sun’s rays that touch their surfaces. Astrobotic director, Mike Provenzano revealed that these solar panels will be built to be about 60 feet (18 meters) tall and their connections will be made by running cables.
The director also said that the high-tech solar panels could be used to power mobile vehicles on the lunar surface. Hence, we should be expecting these solar panels to perform wonders on the moon.
Companies Building Lunar Vehicle-Like Rovers
Companies are already partnering with NASA to build powerful rovers for astronauts. These futuristic crewed rovers should be ready by 2028. The technology behind these rovers is that they have the ability to operate autonomously whenever the need arises. This implies that the astronauts can be performing other tasks while the lunar rovers will take them around to a desirable destination.
The autonomous operation can also be helpful, especially during the cold lunar nights when temperatures can drop to a freezing -280 degrees Fahrenheit (-170 degrees Celsius). A source revealed that Lockheed Martin is partnering with General Motors to work on one of these futuristic crewed rovers.
Dynetics, another company is collaborating with Nascar to work on this concept with unique technologies. The rovers will be powerful enough to withstand all challenges on the moon. One prototype of this lunar vehicle can travel up to nine miles per hour. It also has metal whiles with braided texture and a robotic arm for proper navigation on the moon.
JAXA Developing No Spacesuits Lunar Vehicle for lunar settlement
NASA is partnering with JAXA to build a special pressurized lunar vehicle in which the lunar crew will not have to put on spacesuits while driving in it. This futuristic lunar vehicle will help to give astronauts more comfort while driving around the lunar surface. When the crew has more comfort, they can expand their lunar exploration and make more scientific discoveries for humanity.
Companies Building Moon Habitat for lunar settlement
A Texas-based company has received a $57.2 million contract from NASA to build potential technology for the construction of land strips, roads, and habitats on the lunar surface. The firm has been improving 3D printing technology and currently working on taking advantage of local material on the moon to build fascinating infrastructures on the lunar surface.
Another company developing inflatable habitat concepts for lunar settlement is Lockheed Martin. The firm is working to create awesome technologies that will make astronauts get comfortable on the lunar surface.
“The beautiful thing is you can land it on the moon and inflate it and now there’s a much larger volume for the crew to live in and work in,” Kirk Shireman, vice president for the Lockheed Martin Lunar Exploration Campaign, told AFP.
The mobile habitat that will house astronauts in the future will have a kitchen, bedroom, and a small laboratory. It will also contain powerful technologies that will enable the astronauts to enjoy their stay on the moon.
Building a home for lunar settlement with fascinating technologies is one of NASA’s primary goals in this decade. The success of NASA’s lunar Artemis missions will determine when the space agency will target sending humans to Mars. A lot of work is still required to be done for the success of these projects. NASA hopes to commence the construction of a lunar settlement on the Moon by 2030. Let’s wish the space agency success in its future plans for crewed missions to the moon.