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NASA and BIG shoot for the moon in new lunar city project

The highly progressive Danish architecture group BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) is no stranger to futuristic and groundbreaking ideas and projects. The Project Olympus might take the cake though, as the company collaborates with NASA and 3D-printing specialists ICON to develop and imagine various 3D-printed buildings on the moon, built by moon dust and other materials found in its surface.

NASA is considering to place lunar terrain vehicles, habitable mobility platforms and surface habitat on the Moon before 2030. For NASA, this means that scientific research and extraterrestrial living can be explored further, with the moon working as a big test lab, or perhaps a layover, for future Mars excursions.

— We want to increase the technology readiness level and test systems to prove it would be feasible to develop a large-scale 3D printer that could build infrastructure on the Moon or Mars, said Corky Clinton, associate director of Marshall’s Science and Technology Office to NASA.

The different buildings will be built and run autonomously by excavation robots. The process of building landing pads and roads can’t really be imitated on construction sites on Earth, so NASA hopes that a large-scale construction system could be autonomous and equipped to work without astronauts’ help. For the designers and architects at BIG, this means completely new ways of planning their ideas.

— To explain the power of architecture, “formgiving” is the Danish word for design, which literally means to give form to that which has not yet been given form. This becomes fundamentally clear when we venture beyond Earth and begin to imagine how we are going to build and live on entirely new worlds. With ICON we are pioneering new frontiers – both materially, technologically and environmentally. The answers to our challenges on Earth very well might be found on the Moon, says Bjarke Ingels, Founder and Creative Director at BIG.

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Reaching for the stars

The Helsinki based satellite startup announced on Tuesday that a 74 million euro funding had come its way via return investors True Ventures and OTB Ventures. This will help ICEYE launch four additional SAR satellites this year and further eight in 2021.

The SAR is short for Synthetic Sperture Radar, a technology that the Finns are world-leading in. ICEYE launched in 2018 and has during its years of operation included many world-first achievements for small SAR satellites. For example, the satellites can offer 0,25-meter resolution video and image data from above, and also put forward updates four times a day. This revolutionary up-close access can be used for saving lives during humanitarian and disaster response situations, such as fires, climate-driven changes in weather or even urban activities.

— ICEYE is enabling others to solve immeasurably difficult problems that affect the lives of millions of people around the world. Our team has built a reputation for delivering results to our customers with unmatched timeliness and quality of service. We are proud of that reputation, and we intend to maintain it. This round of investment ensures our SAR satellite constellation will reach a size of at least 12 satellites in 2021, guaranteeing 4 times a day revisit rate globally, said Rafal Modrzewski, CEO and Co-founder of ICEYE.

See some of the amazing captures from the Finnish satellites below, taken in pitch-black night hours. From left to right: Antarctica, Ganges river in India, Mount Taranaki in New Zealand.