Above: Sintered basalt tiles produced by PISCES.
Masten Space Systems together with PISCES has been awarded a NASA STTR Phase 1 grant of up to $125,000 to develop a low-energy, additive construction method for the moon and Mars.
When humans go back to the moon, they will need materials to build shelter, infrastructure and crucial components for survival and operations. Not only that, but they will need an energy-efficient technique that takes raw materials and turns them into usable products—all in the vacuum of space.
PISCES has been researching such a technique using volcanic basalt and a novel binding agent. The STTR project proposes advancing and validating a novel binder-regolith composite for construction applications, and developing an effective extruder that can withstand the harsh lunar and Martian environments. The composite materials will undergo structural testing at PISCES and UH Mānoa and be subjected to static rocket fire testing at Masten to assess their integrity as a launch and landing pad material.
Masten and PISCES will negotiate a 13-month contract with NASA before the award is granted and work begins. If selected for a Phase 2 award, the project would build and test the prototyped extruder (created in Phase 1) using the additive manufacturing method proposed.