The focus of this STTR solicitation is construction of lunar infrastructure elements using bulk regolith and rock. The key requirement of all such construction operations will be a practical and versatile technology for effective regolith and rock conveyance which can operate in a variety of conditions and for a variety of lunar applications at highest possible energy efficiency.
All material conveyance equipment for Earth work are generally too large, and heavy and hence their design is not suitable for being flown to the Moon and operated there. Furthermore, such equipment are power-hungry and infeasible to operate using the limited energy sources accessible on the Moon. While traditional loader or truck would have to make return trips empty, CrafTram would eliminate the need for such back and forth transport of a vehicle. It is expected that CrafTram's low energy demand would allow for this continuous production.
Proposed is a novel autonomous material conveyance system called CrafTram, offering the following advantages:
The proposed effort includes analysis and design of the novel CrafTram system, and creation of a TRL 4 functioning 1/3 scale prototype of the technology. The proposed effort at the RI further includes analysis and design of a berm as the choice for demonstration structure. The CrafTram prototype is also expected to be tested in constructing a 1/3 scale berm section.
The proposed technology is a generic material conveyance system applicable to all regolith work activities, including the following NASA priorities:
Other applications are all terrestrial construction activities such as wet concrete delivery from concrete trucks or mixers to multiple desired locations. CrafTram also eliminates the need for energy hungry concrete pumps and long pipes which result in significant loss of material at the end of operation.
Another application is in automated storage and retrieval system as practiced in warehousing.