How will excavation be done on the moon and what equipment will be used?
NASA is looking to advance 3D printing construction systems for the Moon and Mars. The process of building landing pads, habitats, and roads on the Moon will likely look different than the common construction site on Earth. Excavation robots, for one, will need to be lightweight yet capable of digging in reduced gravity. A large-scale construction system could be autonomous and equipped to work without astronauts’ help1.
Caterpillar, one of the largest construction companies in the world, is also aiming for a spot on the lunar surface and plans to adapt their range of autonomous and remote-controlled mining equipment for use in space. Operator-less drilling and digging machines will mine water, oxygen-rich rocks and moon dust for use in 3-D printing of various materials2.
NASA has also awarded ICON, a construction technology company, to develop construction technology that could be used on the Moon and Mars. As NASA plans for long-term human exploration of the Moon under Artemis, new technologies are required to meet the unique challenges of living and working on another world3.