Railroad on the Moon? It May Be in the Works

Northrop Grumman enlisted to explore construction, costs, and risks
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 21, 2024 11:17 AM CDT
Plans Are Being Made for a Railroad on the Moon
A plane passes in front of the full moon, as seen from Arlington, Texas, on Feb. 24.   (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Now that scientists have some ideas about how to build roads on the moon, focus is turning to a potential lunar railroad. The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) envisions a future in which a network of rails covers the lunar surface, transporting humans, resources, and supplies from one area to another, contributing to a "space economy." Northrop Grumman could now make that vision come to life. The aerospace and defense technology company was selected in December to study the feasibility of a lunar railroad, including potential costs and risks, Quartz reports. The company made the announcement Tuesday, saying the job would include developing concepts for building and operating the railroad with robotics and delivering prototypes.

The work is part of DARPA's LunA-10 study of how best to create a thriving economy on the moon by 2035, covering areas from mining to communications to robotics, per Space.com. It involves another 13 companies, including Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin and Elon Musk's SpaceX. Though currently unclear, their roles are to be discussed at next month's Lunar Surface Innovation Consortium before a final report is issued in June, per Quartz. Each company "brought a clear vision and technically rigorous plan for advancing quickly towards our goal: a self-sustaining, monetizable, commercially owned-and-operated lunar infrastructure," DARPA program manager Michael "Orbit" Nayak said in an earlier statement. "We're excited to get started." Ars Technica lays out six areas of interest. (More moon stories.)

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