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DARPA Launches Program to Pioneer Off-Earth Manufacturing Tech

DARPA

DARPA Launches Program to Pioneer Off-Earth Manufacturing Tech

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has launched a new program to pioneer off-Earth manufacturing technologies, with the goal of producing large space and lunar structures.

According to Bill Carter, program manager in DARPA’s Defense Sciences Office, the Novel Orbital and Moon Manufacturing, Materials and Mass-efficient Design program will establish the materials, processes and designs to realize in-space manufacturing of defense systems.

He added that the NOM4D program will explore the concept of on-orbit manufacturing using advanced materials ferried from Earth, DARPA said.

Program efforts are expected to yield new mass-efficient designs that can only be built off-Earth and can withstand maneuvers, eclipses, damage and thermal cycles in space and lunar environments, Carter explained.

DARPA will adopt a three-phased approach to achieve its goal of building precise, mass efficient structures from feedstock. Each phase will last for 18 months and will focus on meeting structural efficiency targets for several exemplar problems.  

By 2030, the agency aims to conduct regularly scheduled lunar visits and have mature robotic manipulation tools for building structures in space. DARPA also hopes to have in-space, non-destructive evaluation methods for in-process monitoring of manufacturing within the timeline. 

In addition to exploring on-orbit manufacturing, Carter said DARPA will look into future mission applications of in-situ resources obtained from the moon’s surface. Research efforts in the lunar-surface focus area will be geared toward trade studies and targeted demonstrations, he added. 

The agency has announced a NOM4D proposers day webinar on Feb. 26 for interested partners.

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Category: Space

Tags: Bill Carter DARPA Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in-space manufacturing NOM4D program Novel Orbital and Moon Manufacturing Materials and Mass-efficient Design space