National Science Foundation awards grant to Emerging Futures LLC to make lunar landing pad material
Emerging Futures, LLC, a research and analysis consultancy focused on climate change mitigation and the commercial expansion of space, has been awarded a Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) 2021-2022 Phase I Grant from the National Science Foundation.
This Grant enables Emerging Futures to continue developing its PolyBrick™ polymer-regolith composite lunar landing pad concept. This innovative, sustainable, and scalable material will be constructed entirely from lunar materials.
When rockets land and launch on the lunar surface, they displace lunar dust that can travel great distances and damage infrastructure even on the other side of the moon or in orbit.
Emerging Futures is led by CEO, Founder and Chief Scientist Dr Jeffery Greenblatt, who is also vice president of science and research at Orbital Assembly Corp. which is developing space habitats with artificial gravity.
Other collaborators include Prof. Daniel Britt at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Dr Andrew Sexton and Kevin Fisher at Trimeric Corporation in Buda, Texas, Dr Douglas Fontes at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California, and several consultants: Dr Antaeres Antoniuk-Pablant, Andrew Granatstein, and Denise Penrose.
To minimize transport costs from Earth, all surface infrastructure will need to be constructed from local materials. Instead of using high-energy processes to harden lunar regolith, Emerging Future’s approach will bind it with a high-performance polymer created from lunar volatiles co-located with water-ice in polar regions. This solution reduces mass, cost, and technical risk by “piggybacking” on anticipated water-ice mining operations, utilizing discarded volatiles from their operations to produce high-quality polymers. It is sustainable and can produce enough material annually to replace worn-out landing pads sections.
Creating a viable solution to mitigate lunar dust will accelerate and lower the cost of accessing the lunar surface and infrastructure necessary for sustainable commercial space development. This includes mining, manufacturing, construction, power generation, communications, habitation, and especially transportation. Facilitating lunar exploration will also expand scientific knowledge of the solar system, while enhancing commercial development will expand opportunities in the space economy which could be spun off and developed for applications on Earth.