The race is on to create communication system, rover, and home for lunar settlement

Companies, in collaboration with NASA, have been developing rovers for astronauts, which are expected to be ready by 2028.
Mrigakshi Dixit
Illustration of the moon habitat.
Illustration of the moon habitat.


The last astronaut stepped foot on the Moon in 1972, and now, decades later, humans are preparing to not only land on the Moon but also to stay for days or even weeks. 

However, there are many obstacles that must be overcome before establishing a settlement on the Moon. Everything from communication to vehicles to infrastructure must be considered in order to create a successful longer-term presence on the Moon. 

Reportedly, several companies have been working on providing basic technology facilities for future astronauts on the Moon in order to create a home away from home.  

Here are some of the most pressing challenges, as well as how companies are addressing them. 

Power supply and communication

One of the keys to maintaining a human presence on the Moon is a strong communication setup. 

Crescent Space, a new Lockheed Martin subsidiary, is reportedly working to provide lunar services. It intends to offer internet and GPS services on the Moon. 

With a reliable communication and power source, mission control on Earth and astronauts will be less reliant on NASA's Deep Space Network, which is also used for almost all space missions. The value of the lunar market will skyrocket to a whopping $100 billion in the next ten years, thanks to the series of upcoming Artemis missions.

Astrobotic, another NASA-selected company, has been designing and developing solar panels for power supply on the lunar base.

These moon-based solar panels would have to be installed vertically so that the Sun's rays could fall into them. This method is specifically designed with the habitat location in mind, namely the Moon's south pole, which receives little sunlight above the horizon. 

According to Mike Provenzano, the company's director of lunar surface systems, these Astrobotic solar panels will be 60 feet (18 meters) tall and connected by running cables. These panels could also be used to power vehicles on the lunar surface. 

Lunar vehicle-like rovers

Companies, in collaboration with NASA, have been developing rovers for astronauts, which are expected to be ready by 2028.

The main goal is to design the rover so that it can operate autonomously when needed — without the need for astronauts. This could be especially important during the freezing lunar nights when temperatures can drop to -280 degrees Fahrenheit (-170 degrees Celsius).

And companies have already begun to work on this concept. According to reports, Lockheed Martin is collaborating with General Motors, while Dynetics has partnered with Nascar.

The rovers will be designed with the lunar surface's widespread regolith in mind. One prototype travels at nine miles per hour and is outfitted with a robotic arm and metal wheels with a braided texture. 

Meanwhile, NASA has collaborated with Japan's JAXA to develop a special pressurized lunar vehicle in which astronauts will not need to wear spacesuits.

The lunar habitat

Companies are conceptualizing lunar habitats that astronauts could potentially call home. 

NASA has awarded a $57.2 million contract to the Texas-based firm Icon to develop potential technology for the construction of roads, landing strips, and habitats on the Moon. This company specializes in 3D printing and is working on using as much local material as possible for such purposes as lunar soil. 

On the other hand, Lockheed Martin is working on “inflatable habitat concepts” for lunar homes. "The beautiful thing is you can land it on the moon and inflate it and now there's a much larger volume for the crew to live in and work in," Kirk Shireman, vice president for the Lockheed Martin Lunar Exploration Campaign, told AFP.

This mobile habitat would include bedrooms, a kitchen, and even a small lab. 

All of these technological advances will eventually pave the way for Mars's settlement. NASA, on the other hand, hopes to begin construction on the Moon by 2030. 

And for the time being, there is a lot of work that needs to be done on Earth to make this fictional idea a reality.

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