As part of its Plan for Sustained Lunar Exploration and Development, NASA has teamed up with architecture firm Bjarke Ingels Group, advanced construction developer ICON and SEArch+ (Space Exploration Architecture) to design Project Olympus, a system of space-based construction to support future exploration of the Moon. Developed with technology that ICON submitted to NASA’s 2018 3D Printed Habitat Challenge, the proposed lunar habitats would be 3D-printed using robotic, zero-waste construction for a reduced carbon footprint.
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Bjarke Ingels Group is no stranger to extraterrestrial architecture — Project Olympus is the firm’s second project in outer space after its Mars Science City proposal, which is currently being turned into a prototype in Dubai. Much like the Mars building project, BIG’s Project Olympus proposal also addresses eight of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. According to the Artemis program, NASA plans to land the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024 for lunar exploration and research, which will inform future missions to Mars.
The ambitious Project Olympus will cover a wide array of architecture, from landing pads to habitats, that would be built with robust construction rather than metal or inflatable structures. The team will work in collaboration with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama to test lunar soil simulant with ICON’s groundbreaking robotic technologies and develop prototype elements. The goal will be the creation of the first permanent structure on the Moon that’s not only capable of withstanding the hostile lunar environment but would also become a learning opportunity for creating more sustainable construction on Earth as well.
“To explain the power of architecture, ‘formgiving’ is the Danish word for design, which literally means to give form to that which has not yet been given form,” Bjarke Ingels said. “This becomes fundamentally clear when we venture beyond Earth and begin to imagine how we are going to build and live on entirely new worlds. With ICON we are pioneering new frontiers — both materially, technologically and environmentally. The answers to our challenges on Earth very well might be found on the Moon.”