Excavation and Construction

The LSIC Excavation and Construction (LSIC – E&C) Focus Group (FG) will assist NASA in evaluating technologies that enable affordable, robust, autonomous manufacturing and construction on the lunar surface to establish a sustained human presence. Landing and launch Pads, habitats (surface and underground), roads, berms, power infrastructure are some of the infrastructural elements the focus group is focusing on presently. Relevant technologies of interest include additive construction, autonomous construction, excavation tools for lunar conditions, sintering, regolith processing, etc. In-situ repair and outfitting are other areas of focus.

APL Staff

Contact all staff

Athonu Chatterjee

E&C Focus Area Lead

Jibu Abraham

Focus Group Co-Facilitator

Sarah Hasnain

Focus Group Co-Facilitator

Claudia Knez

Goals

Goals of the LSIC-E&C Focus Group include identifying challenges to excavation and construction in lunar environments and exploring current industry technologies that will lead to sustaining a human lunar presence.

Vision

To create a community focused on lunar excavation and construction, identify challenges currently facing lunar excavation and construction, explore technologies that can combat those issues, and maintain community recommendations.

Year 1 Accomplishments

During its first year, the LSIC E&C FG identified needs and gaps in E&C, provided recommendations to foster development, and created a roadmap for developing and fielding that technology.

More specifically, the FG worked to expand the community by establishing various technical categories that help manage and steer technical discussions. These categories include:

  • Autonomous vehicle and robots for E&C
  • Excavation technology for hard regolith/ice material
  • Habitat construction in lunar conditions using in-situ resources and specialized manufacturing and assembly equipment
  • Increased autonomy of operations

To engage the community, the FC designed discussion questions, housed on Confluence, to guide the conversation and provide context for E&C.

Monthly meeting schedule

The LSIC E&C monthly meetings are held on the last Wednesday of each month at 2:00 PM ET. For meeting information and agendas, please email lsic-wiki-admins@listserv.jhuapl.edu.

Autonomy, Maintenance, Site Planning & Prep

  1. Site Planning & Design: Systems and processes performed in preparation of excavation and construction activities. These include:
    • Site survey and Characterization
    • Architecture Layout & Master Planning
    • Civil Engineering Design
    • GIS Configuration Control
    • Construction Techniques and Methods
    • Access & Handling Equipment
    • Robotic/Human Construction Equipment
  2. Site Prep: Preliminary material handling. These include:
    • Terrain Shaping Grading & Rock Clearing
    • Soil Stabilization
    • Below Grade Operations
  3. Maintenance and Lifecycle: Operations to ensure long-term sustainability and closeout after project completion. These include:
    • Inspection & Compliance
    • Integrity & Preventative Maintenance
    • Lifecycle Operations
    • Facility Management
    • Waste Managements
    • Decommission and Re-planning/Salvage

Additive Manufacturing, Raw Materials

  1. In-Situ Construction Materials: Materials employed for lunar surface construction and excavation. These include:
    • Raw Material
    • By-product Material
    • Processed Material
    • Re-purposed Material
    • Stockpiling & Material Logistics

Horizontal & Vertical Construction

  1. Horizontal Construction (2D) & Landing Pads: Key infrastructure to allow transport to and between lunar surface areas. These include:
    • Road Construction
    • Foundation Construction
    • Utilidor Construction
    • Landing & Launch Pad
  2. Vertical Construction (3D) & Shielding Maintenance & Lifecycle: Primary structures for manned operations. These include:
    • Underground Structures
    • Above Ground Structures
    • Shielding
    • Landing/Launch Pad Infrastructure

Outfitting

Outfitting is the process by which a structural system is transformed into a usable system by in-situ installation of subsystems, as well as the associated planning and preparation required for this process. Put simply, it is making a house a home. Although this is a relatively new area to E&C and not much has been done yet, outfitting will be important for a sustainable lunar presence.

April 2023 Telecon

Lunar Surface Innovation Consortium Spring Meeting

February 2023 Telecon

Excavation and Construction - Monthly FG

January 2023 Telecon

Excavation and Construction - Monthly FG

December 2022 Telecon

Excavation and Construction - Monthly FG

November 2022 Telecon

LSIC Fall Meeting

September 2022 Telecon

Excavation + Construction - Monthly FG

August 2022 Telecon

Excavation & Construction - Monthly FG

June 2022 Telecon

Excavation & Construction - Monthly FG

May 2022 Telecon

Excavation and Construction - Monthly FG

May 2022 Telecon

LSIC Spring Meeting

April 2022 Telecon

Dust Mitigation + Excavation and Construction - Monthly FG

April 2022 Telecon

MOSA Working Group

March 2022 Telecon

Excavation and Construction - Monthly FG

February 2022 Telecon

Regolith to Rebar: ISRU - E&C Metal Workshop

December 2021 Telecon

Excavation and Construction Monthly FG

November 2021 Telecon

LSIC Excavation and Construction Monthly FG

November 2021 Telecon

Lunar Surface Innovation Consortium Fall Meeting

October 2021 Telecon

LSIC Excavation and Construction Monthly FG

August 2021 Telecon

LSIC Exc. Constr. Workshop

June 2021 Telecon

Excavation and Construction Monthly FG

May 2021 Telecon

Lunar Surface Innovation Consortium Spring Meeting

March 2021 Telecon

Excavation and Construction Monthly FG

February 2021 Telecon

November 2020 Telecon

October 2020 Telecon

Excavation and Construction Monthly FG

October 2020 Telecon

Lunar Surface Innovation Consortium Virtual Fall Meeting

August 2020 Telecon

Excavation and Construction Monthly FG

July 2020 Telecon

Excavation and Construction Monthly FG

June 2020 Telecon

Kickoff Excavation and Construction Monthly FG

February 2020 Telecon

Lunar Surface Innovation Consortium National Kickoff Meeting

Power

A continuous power supply is necessary to create a sustained lunar presence, especially during the initial stages when excavation and construction will be needed to establish this presence. The Surface Power Focus Group has developed technologies to supply this continuous power throughout day and night.

What power considerations are necessary for E&C operation?

  • Missions in the past were able to be timed to coincide with optimal conditions; however, to establish a sustainable presence, all conditions will need to be properly accounted for (i.e., how can we survive the lunar night?)
  • Solar energy capability will be limited during the lunar night.
  • Can a fission power source provide enough power?

ISRU

To create a sustained presence on the Moon, it is important to make use of the resources that can be found on the surface, rather than relying on resources being transported from Earth. The In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) Focus Group has advanced technologies that will allow for the collection, processing, storing, and use of material found on the lunar surface.

How can processes (like collecting and purifying water, sorting granular lunar regolith, measuring oxygen content) provide natural materials necessary for construction and how can this impact our construction techniques?

How can we create materials for Additive Manufacturing (or 3D Printing) or concrete?

Extreme Environments

Excavation and construction on the lunar surface require technologies that can withstand extreme conditions, for example, drastic temperature changes and permanently shadowed regions. The Extreme Environments Focus Group has progressed these technologies, allowing for full-range operation and survival.

How may lunar geophysical features alter the way we think about E&C on the Moon?

  • Equipment/machinery will need to be developed diligently to robustly account for roadblocks presented by these geophysical features because a common hazard is fresh craters with steep walls and boulder-strewn rims.
  • Natural lunar geophysical features (like lava tubes) can be optimized and used advantageously for habitats.

Dust Mitigation

Dust mitigation is a crucial component to being able to establish a sustained lunar presence. As the dust is angular and highly electrostatic, it can easily and quickly build up and cause damage to spacesuits, equipment, and even human health. The Dust Mitigation Focus Group has developed technologies to protect lunar systems and allow for excavation and construction to take place in order to create this sustained presence.

How can lunar dust impact E&C equipment?

  • Lunar dust grain shape allows grains to become embedded in spacesuits and reduce their lifetime.
  • Dust being kicked up from vehicles increases the friction at mechanical surfaces and can reduce equipment lifetime.
  • Dust accumulation can impair visibility and scratch lenses, thus, reducing the effectiveness and lifetime of sensors.
  • The electrostatic discharge of the dust grains can cause large static voltages to enter electronics and damage the internal circuitry.

Extreme Access

To create a sustained lunar presence, we will need to go to areas that we have not been to so that excavation and construction can take place. The Extreme Access Focus Group has expanded technologies that enable both human and robotic systems to access, navigate, and explore previously inaccessible lunar areas.

How can we prepare to access lunar areas that may not have been accessed before?

Permanently shadowed regions are dark and cold, while the opposite is true for peaks of eternal light, so equipment will need to be able to work in these sorts of conditions.

LSIC Wiki on Confluence

Open to LSIC members only.

To request access, please contact lsic-wiki-admins@listserv.jhuapl.edu.

LSIC Wiki
LSIC Listserv

Complete survey to request access.

Listserv Survey
Related News
Meetings & Reports