To facilitate the return of humans to the moon in the next several years, consideration must be given to various types of infrastructure that will be required. Navigational features are promising for accurate and repeatable vehicle landings. Durable landing pads will be able to ensure stable landing and to prevent erosion of landing sites and sand-blasted abrasion of any nearby structures. Berms to deflect ejecta and particulate matter from landings are also of interest, as are numerous other similar structures. At a lower level, it is important to consider not only what structures are needed but which are possible, and how they will be constructed. To accomplish this, Lunar Outpost together with Masten Space Systems and Michigan Technological University propose a set of analytical tools, which will take such parameters as lander size and payload weight, and return a set of optimal structures to build as well as strategies for their construction, including layer-based geometries, compaction levels and verification, and more. Additionally, a set of construction tools (scrapers, compacters, etc.) will be recommended for use with Lunar Outpost rovers for In-Situ Resource Utilization of the present regolith for construction of infrastructure. A Concept of Operations describing the timeline, equipment, and procedures for this construction will also be developed under the scope of this proposal.
The proposed design and implementation tools for lunar surface regolith infrastructure fill a NASA strategic knowledge gap, applying lunar civil engineering technologies to produce bulk regolith structures, some of the first applications of lunar infrastructure. The design and implementation tools proposed herein therefore represent a building block of the entire future lunar infrastructure, applicable to human exploration, campaign science, and scaling of ISRU from small technology demonstrations to large-scale, operationally-useful resources.
Commercial operators need confidence in landing site properties as landing frequency increases. Infrastructure impacts the cost of surface ops, a critical metric in evaluating the market opportunity for economic activity. Thus, this research increases the confidence level of projections of the cislunar economy, impacting space companies’ ability to raise capital and pursue their business plans