NASA chooses a San Antonio company to assist with creating a lunar landing pad using moon dust


By the late 2030s, NASA hopes to send an astronaut to Mars. It must first construct a lunar base as a stopover, though. And it needs a landing pad in order to construct a lunar base. It needs a space architect in order to build a landing pad.

Sam Ximenes is the man behind Astroport Space Technologies. This San Antonio-based company recently received a second small business award from NASA to carry out its ongoing study with UTSA on creating robots that can construct a landing pad on the moon.

Last year, Astroport received its first NASA contract, which enabled it to create a furnace that could liquefy moon dust and turn it into Lego-like bricks. How to feed the furnace is a related issue that is being addressed by this most recent contract.

In search of designs for autonomous, remote-controlled, or somewhere-in-between robots that could collect the moon dust, which is finely granulated lunar soil or regolith, and get it into the furnace is Astroport, a firm created in 2020 as a subsidiary of a larger one.

The first goal is to construct a landing pad, even if the generated bricks could be utilized for a number of base-building tasks. It’s essential. Similar to how a landing helicopter blasts grass, but at a far higher velocity, the dirt around a spacecraft’s landing or launch site on the moon is propelled into the air.

Additionally, the shower of high-speed moon dust might sandblast any already-existing machinery on the moon, including tractors and dwellings, in addition to the persistent smokescreen it might produce.

The project’s research collaborator is UTSA. The research is being conducted under the direction of professors Sazzad Bin-Shafique and Ibukun Awolusi, with graduate students also participating.

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