As we discussed in the previous article, forging plays a fundamental role in the aerospace sector and allows the production of critical components for aircraft and rockets.

Recently, metal forging has gone to the next level: on the occasion of the Breakthrough, Innovative and Game-Changing (BIG) Idea Challenge, NASA asked university students to think and design a metal production line specifically for the lunar soil.

The project requested by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration must include a complete metal production line, from extracting lunar minerals to building all the instrumentation necessary to analyze them.

The Artemis space program

The Artemis program is an ambitious space program of NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) of the United States which aims to put man on the Moon and establish a sustainable human presence on our satellite by the end of the decade.

Announced in 2019 and considered the successor to the Apollo program, Artemis aims to develop new space technologies and infrastructure to enable a safe and sustainable return to the lunar surface.

Not only that, the program aims to carry out scientific and research activities on lunar soil with the aim of creating an orbiting platform called “Gateway”, a support base for long-term space operations.

To proceed with the creation of support bases for future missions, there is nothing more stable and reliable than metal: strong and particularly resistant to corrosion, it is the perfect material for the construction of pipes and structures.

Why not carry it straight from Earth to the Moon then?

Forging metals on the moon: the challenge funded by NASA

Metal is the perfect material for the construction of space bases on lunar soil: metallic materials are in fact known for their mechanical strength and durability, fundamental properties for the construction of structures that must withstand the gravity of the Moon, the extreme thermal conditions and the potential impact of micrometeorites.

But there is a problem: metal is a particularly heavy material. Therefore, proceeding with its transport from the Earth to the Moon would significantly increase the cost of the shipment.

Hence the need to design a complete production line that assumes the extraction and forging of metals directly on lunar soil.

The university teams participating in the BIG Idea Challenge are therefore working to develop innovative solutions capable of allowing the extraction of metals from minerals found on the Moon. The project, funded by NASA, includes awards of up to $180,000, to up to eight selected teams: concept designs will be shared in November 2023.

sources: Kosmo Magazine, Scienze Notizie, Nasa

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