Austin-based ICON awarded $57.2 million NASA contract for lunar building tech • TechCrunch

ICON, a building tech firm that’s raised greater than $400 million in funding, has landed a brand new contract from NASA to develop new programs to construct on the moon and Mars.

The $57.2 million contract is a continuation of a earlier Small Enterprise Innovation Analysis (SBIR) dual-use contract with the U.S. Air Drive, which was partly funded by NASA. This award will assist the event of what ICON is asking “Challenge Olympus,” an bold plan to construct buildings on the moon and Mars utilizing in-situ assets.

“To alter the area exploration paradigm from ‘there and again once more’ to ‘there to remain,’ we’re going to wish strong, resilient, and broadly succesful programs that may use the native assets of the Moon and different planetary our bodies,” ICON CEO Jason Ballard stated in an announcement. It’s clear that NASA agrees. Certainly, the company has explicitly acknowledged that one of many targets of its bold Artemis lunar program is to determine a long-term human presence on the moon. However as of but, NASA has established no clear plans on the place these astronauts will keep as soon as they get there.

ICON, which is best-known for its 3D-printed houses, has been engaged on Challenge Olympus for a while. The corporate was awarded the preliminary SBIR grant from the U.S. Air Drive in October 2020 for $14.55 million. This newest funding will preserve the venture alive for a handful extra years at the very least: the contract runs by way of 2028.

Underneath the phrases of this contract, ICON will likely be working with NASA’s Marshall Area Flight Heart, underneath an company enterprise referred to as the “Moon to Mars Planetary Autonomous Building Applied sciences” venture. The corporate is planning on working with samples of lunar regolith and bringing its {hardware} and software program into area to assist it develop building approaches that may finest perform within the chilly, low-gravity environment of the moon. Habitats aren’t the one factor on the corporate’s radar: it’s additionally eyeing up touchdown pads and different infrastructure to assist sustained lunar exploration.

ICON has seen explosive development since its founding in late 2017. The corporate landed a $207 million Series B final August, and closed one other $185 million scarcely six months later. Sources instructed TechCrunch that the newest funding pushed ICON’s valuation near $2 billion.

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