DARPA looks to monetise the Moon

DARPA looks to monetise the Moon

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

DARPA in the US is requesting innovative and revolutionary technical approaches to monetise integrated lunar infrastructure in a parallel with the creation of the Internet.

The 10-Year Lunar Architecture (LunA-10) capability study commissioned by DARPA aims to rapidly develop foundational technology concepts that move away from individual scientific efforts within isolated, self-sufficient systems, toward a series of shareable, scalable systems that interoperate on the Moon. This will minimize lunar footprint says DARPA as well as create ‘monetisable services’ for future lunar users.

Over the next seven months the LunA-10 project will work with both lunar providers and users to develop a public framework for collective infrastructure investments and identify the related technical challenges.

“A large paradigm shift is coming in the next 10 years for the lunar economy,” said Dr. Michael “Orbit” Nayak, program manager in DARPA’s Strategic Technology Office. “To get to a turning point faster, LunA-10 uniquely aims to identify solutions that can enable multi-mission lunar systems – imagine a wireless power station that can also provide comms and navigation in its beam.”

“For 65 years, DARPA has pioneered and de-risked technologies vital to civil space advancement — from the rocket technology in the Saturn V that took humans to the Moon for the first time, to the recent DARPA-NASA partnership to enable faster space travel to the Moon and beyond with a nuclear thermal rocket engine. LunA-10 continues this rich legacy by identifying and accelerating key technologies that may be used by government and the commercial space industry, and ultimately to catalyze economic vibrancy on the Moon,” he said.

Areas for monetisation on the Moon

“Just like DARPA’s foundational node of ARPANET grew into the sprawling web of the internet, LunA-10 is looking for those connective nodes to support a thriving commercial economy on the Moon,” Nayak said. The areas for monetisation include mobility; energy; communications; and other orbital or surface infrastructure concepts.

LunA-10 aims to select companies that have a clear vision and technically rigorous business plan for providing or using one or more lunar services, and then work with them to design new integrated system-level solutions that span multiple services. Lunar transmission, energy, and communications are likely cornerstones, and the program is soliciting other sectors to create monetizable commercial services on and around the Moon by 2035. This would complement NASA’s Moon to Mars Objectives focused on human exploration, science and experimentation on the Moon.

“Opportunities for technology maturation are key for development for lunar capabilities in order to meet the objectives of future lunar architectures,” said Niki Werkheiser, Director of Technology Maturation in NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate.

The study will not fund technology construction, transportation to the lunar surface, or integration with lunar delivery vehicles. However, DARPA intends to provide economic expertise to all LunA-10 teams to help analyze and validate definitions of a critical mass to create a thriving, survivable lunar economy.

LunA-10 is grounded in the Outer Space Treaty (1967) and Article IV of the treaty for scientific and peaceful purposes.

Three-page abstracts in response to the LunA-10 solicitation are due by Sept. 6, 2023. The companies  selected for LunA-10 will be announced at the fall meeting of the Lunar Surface Innovation Consortium (LSIC) in October 2023.

For full details and instructions for submitting an abstract, visit the LunA-10 program solicitation at


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