Being able to construct durable structures on the Moon is vital for a long-term human presence and future exploration efforts. However, it is impractical and costly to transport building materials from Earth. Fortunately, there is a solution lying in the craters of the Moon’s South Pole: lunar regolith.
Meet BrickoBot: a small four-wheeler with a forklift to scoop lunar regolith, a powdery soil, from the Moon’s surface into a rectangular prism shaped titanium holding container. The forklift has positively charged electromagnets to attract the regolith, which is negatively charged due to constant bombardment from solar wind and meteorites. Once the container is full, a piston filled with compressed air in the center of the container pulls the lid down, exerting pressure onto the regolith to form a brick that is ready to bake.
A system of solar panels can be set up around a crater that receives constant sunlight to power both BrickoBot and a brick-baking solar oven. Even though solar ovens on Earth are not hot enough to bake bricks, new developments in photovoltaic cell technology combined with the constant sunlight make this concept feasible.
The mission crew should consist of five collaborative, knowledgeable astronauts: one team leader, one pilot and three specialists in geology, engineering, and biology. The team leader should be able to communicate skillfully with current and future mission crews to ensure both short and long term success. The geologist’s goal is to better understand the Moon’s surface, especially the regolith. With the geologist’s help, the engineer should help set up the BrickoBots, oven, and solar panels and make equipment repairs. Finally, the biologist should help set up food sources like greenhouses.
With this incredible team of astronauts and BrickoBots, we can build an amazing future on the Moon - brick by brick.