NASA selects San Antonio firm to help build lunar

NASA’s goal is to land an astronaut on Mars by the late 2030s. But before then, it needs to build a lunar base as a midway point. And to build a lunar base, it needs a landing pad. To build download lagu a landing pad, it needs a space architect.

That’s Sam Ximenes, whose San Antonio-based venture Astroport Space Technologies recently won its second small business grant from NASA to continue its joint research with UTSA on how to design robots that can build a landing pad on the moon.

“The technology is here,” Ximenes said. “It’s not Star Trek anymore. It’s not fantasy. This is real.”

Astroport’s first contract with NASA last year helped it develop a furnace that could liquefy moon dust and form it into Lego-like bricks. This latest contract seeks a solution to a related problem: how to feed the furnace.

Astroport, founded in 2020 as a subsidiary of a larger company, is now chasing designs for robots — either autonomous or remote-controlled or somewhere in between — that could scoop the moon dust, which is finely granulated lunar soil or regolith, and get it into the furnace.

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