NASA Splurges $150M On These Lunar Prototype Projects To Make The Moon Habitable

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NASA has decided to fund 11 companies to develop technologies that could help support the long-term exploration of the Moon and beyond. The companies include Blue Origin, tasked with developing in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) based power on the Moon.

As NASA prepares for its Artemis II mission that will send human astronauts into orbit around the Moon, it is also thinking ahead in terms of constructing a lunar Moon base and space adventures to Mars and beyond. The space agency recently released a list of 11 companies that range from lunar surface systems to a first-of-its-kind manufacturing technology intended for building infrastructure on the Moon that includes landing pads, roads, and foundations for habitats.

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Illustration showcasing Redwire's lunar technologies

"Partnering with the commercial space industry lets us at NASA harness the strength of American innovation and ingenuity," remarked NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. "The technologies that NASA is investing in today have the potential to be the foundation of future exploration."

The funded projects will be jointly funded by NASA and its industry partners. In total, the space agency is contributing $150 million, with each company additionally contributing a minimum percentage of at least 10-25% of the total project cost, based on the size of the company.

"Our partnerships with industry could be a cornerstone of humanity's return to the Moon under Artemis," added Dr. Prasun Desai, acting Associate Administrator for Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) at NASA. "By creating new opportunities for streamlined awards, we hope to push crucial technologies over the finish line so they can be used in future missions. These innovative partnerships will help advance capabilities that will enable sustainable explorations on the Moon."

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Blue Origin's solar cell

The 11 companies are being asked to develop technologies that aid NASA and its astronauts to further explore the Moon with power, transportation, landing pads, habitats, and other infrastructure needs. Blue Origin, in particular, is working on in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) that will use the Moon's own surface material to produce its solar cells.

A complete list of the 11 companies receiving funding can be found on NASA's website.