Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Northrop Grumman to develop moon-based railroad concept

Northrop Grumman has been selected by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to further develop the concept of building a moon-based railroad network. It is a part of the broader 10-year Lunar Architecture (LunA-10) Capability Study that the research agency unveiled last December and includes 14 other companies.

The US is planning to send astronauts back to the Moon through the upcoming Artemis program. While NASA is working on the components required for a human landing on the Moon, DARPA is also looking into activities that will follow later on.

The envisioned lunar railroad network could be a game-changer for transporting humans and resources across the lunar surface.

Northrop Grumman is conducting a study to define the interfaces and resources required to build this network. They also aim to explore the concept of constructing and operating the system using robotics, including grading and foundation preparation, track placement and alignment, joining and finishing, inspection, maintenance, and repair.

In addition, the study will establish a critical list of foreseeable cost, technological, and logistical risks. It will also identify prototypes, demonstrations, and analyses of a fully operating lunar rail system’s concept design and architecture.

“This investment in key developmental research keeps our technology at the forefront of next-generation solutions,” said Chris Adams, vice president and general manager of strategic space systems at Northrop Grumman. “With our proven experience in the integration of complex systems and commercialized autonomous services, we will continue to create lasting change for a sustainable space ecosystem.”

DARPA’s LunA-10 Capability Study is designed to quickly create scalable systems that work together to establish a framework for integrated lunar infrastructure. The focus is on minimizing the lunar footprint while providing commercial services for future lunar users.