SAN ANTONIO, Nov. 27, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Astroport Space Technologies and its parent organization Exploration Architecture Corporation (XArc) received a combined $1.3M in NASA SBIR/STTR awards for development of extreme environment landing pad technologies. The SBIR/STTR Phase 1 and Phase 2 awards will focus on development of lunar construction and operations technologies needed for lunar surface landing/launch pads (LLPs) in support of the NASA Artemis program.
NASA awarded Astroport a Phase 1 SBIR to advance development of its unique Lunatron® furnace-nozzle for making bricks from molten lunar regolith (lunar soil). Bricks are used for the surface pavement in Astroport’s LLP design. A Phase 1 STTR was awarded to Astroport for development of novel regolith flow technology for mitigating problematic electro-static forces during conveyance of processed regolith. This sieving and grain separation technology will isolate the regolith grains that are ideal for manufacturing lunar bricks. Additionally, NASA awarded Astroport’s parent company, XArc, a Phase 1 STTR contract for development of an autonomous pathfinder surveying robot (Surveyorbot) to determine geotechnical characteristics of a potential landing site. The Surveyorbot will perform precursor surveying missions prior to deployment of surface construction operations, to characterize regolith handling difficulty at a selected site, such as load bearing capability, compaction and penetration depth, as well as soil settlement due to imposed loads from heavy cargo landers. Total value of these awards is $450,000.
NASA also selected Astroport and its consortium team comprised of industry partners and academic research institutions, for a Phase 2 STTR award valued at $850,000 to refine the team’s Phase 1 defined concept of operations (CONOPS) and system architecture for the LLP site preparation and construction process.