NASA awards $57.2 million contract to 3D print Moon base

NASA awards $57.2 million contract to 3D print Moon base

Large-scale 3D printing firm ICON, a leader in advanced construction technologies, have received a $57.2 million contract to use its technology to help build a base and roads on the Moon.

The contract, awarded under Phase III of NASA's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, builds upon previous NASA and Department of Defense funding for ICON's Project Olympus to research and develop space-based construction systems to support the exploration of the Moon and beyond.

The news arrives as Artemis I, the first unmanned mission in a programme that will eventually return humans to the moon, has returned to Earth - having gone further into space than any craft designed to carry humans.

ICON's Olympus system is intended to be a multi-purpose construction system primarily using local Lunar and Martian resources as building materials to further the efforts of NASA as well as commercial organisations to establish a sustained lunar presence once humans return to the Moon.

"To change the space exploration paradigm from 'there and back again' to 'there to stay,' we're going to need robust, resilient, and broadly capable systems that can use the local resources of the Moon and other planetary bodies. We're pleased that our research and engineering to-date has demonstrated that such systems are indeed possible, and we look forward to now making that possibility a reality," said Jason Ballard, ICON co-founder and CEO. "The final deliverable of this contract will be humanity's first construction on another world, and that is going to be a pretty special achievement."