It's one small step for man but one giant leap for space exploration. NASA has introduced a new program to help astronauts build new technology to sustain life on the moon.
"Break the Ice Lunar Challenge" is tasked with finding a way to dig, exuviate and get through the lunar crust. It's not just NASA scientists working on this problem. They are seeking the help of anyone who has an idea.
According to NASA the program has two phases: the first phase looks for new ideas, the second phase is to demonstrate that new tech.
Phase 1 asks people to submit new ideas for a system architecture capable of excavating and moving icy regolith and water on the lunar surface. If you want to submit an idea you need to include a system architecture report, excavation plan, and mission animation by June 18, 2021. NASA will then review those ideas and divide out a $500,000 Phase 1 prize.
Phase 2 is then about showing off those new ideas. NASA wants the winners of Phase 1 to use their prize money to build some prototypes, and actually show how it would work on the moon. The winner of Phase 2 could win up to $4.5 million.
“We are excited about this opportunity to broaden our community engagement in the Artemis program and explore new infrastructure approaches for the Moon,” said NASA’s Associate Administrator for the Space Technology Mission Directorate Jim Reuter.
"As outlined in our plan for sustained lunar exploration and development, NASA is pursuing technology development that allows future explorers to live off the land. With this challenge, we’re soliciting fresh ideas from outside the traditional aerospace sector for acquiring and processing resources needed to support long-duration human surface exploration.”
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