The destiny of space conquest will be printed in three dimensions. This is what the American startup ICON offers, selected by NASA to design the future barracks where the astronauts who will soon set foot on the Moon will evolve. The firm has just announced that it has received $57.2 million from the American body under a construction contract at thehorizon 2025. A news that echoes the launch of a first test rocket, without human passengers for the moment, bound for our natural satellite.
Since its inception, ICON’s success has been remarkable. The company has indeed been able to convince multiple investors to the point of raise nearly half a billion dollars in about four years. NASA, for its part, had already bet on the nugget in October 2020. It must be said that the concept has something to seduce, since the engineers at its head explain that they want to call on local resources to assemble the modules. Understand: from material taken directly from moon rocks, which should avoid having to overload the launchers. Potentially serious savings for the customer, who is already reducing costs thanks to SpaceX’s reusable devices.
The first success of its kind
As James Ballard, co-founder of ICON and CEO of the company, likes to remind us, these constructions will be the first extraterrestrial human buildings. Indeed, until now, no permanent installation of this type has yet emerged either on the Moon or elsewhere. We know, however, that Elon Musk intends to remedy this by also sending experts beyond our atmosphere, but on Mars this time.
The images shared by ICON in the video above, however, seem to stay within the scope of the prototype for the moment and the final design is still likely to change between now and the arrival of the program Artemis on the moon. But the technology, for its part, has already been approved. ICON designs in fact houses printed in three dimensions for American individuals for several months. Of course, their appearance is radically different from what awaits astronauts.
Now it’s about betting on the look
The choice of ICON by NASA will also have been motivated by the clearly futuristic models of the manufacturer, far from what the architecture of the ISS offers for example. This example and that of SpaceX’s Dragon ships, whose cabin is more like that of a sports car, show how the image now matters for the agency. At a time when all debates are now open on the net with live video, the question of design will not arise.