NASA plans to build houses on the moon by 2040


And the space agency has already tapped an Austin-based company to build them.
Image: NASA

The US national space agency, NASA, is planning to build houses on the moon by 2040, with several scientists from the agency telling the New York Times that the work is already underway.

The agency is set to return to the moon and is hoping its astronauts can stay long-term – in a house built on the moon via a 3D printer.

The idea is to build the house structure out of a special lunar concrete from the moon’s surface, and NASA has found just the company to do it: Austin-based 3D printing company, ICON. In what’s been dubbed Project Olympus, ICON

“We’ve got all the right people together at the right time with a common goal, which is why I think we’ll get there,” NASA’s director of technology maturation, Niki Werkheiser told The New York Times. “Everyone is ready to take this step together, so if we get our core capabilities developed, there’s no reason it’s not possible.”


ICON created its first 350-square-foot prototype home in Austin in March 2018 with a proprietary machine called Vulcan. This year, it showcased its first model home at Wolf Ranch in Georgetown, Texas, which is part of its 3D-printed 100-home community project.

The start-up first received funding from NASA in 2020, and in 2022 it announced an additional US$60 million for a space-based construction system that can be used beyond earth. The idea is to send a 3D printer up to the moon via a rocket, and the printer completes its job from there.

There are some barriers, like the weight of materials and the (obvious) distance, and the plan is little more than that – a plan – as it stands. But the space agency has also enlisted academics and researchers and testing chambers (to test the materials’ durability) to make it work. In February 2024, ICON’s 3D printer will take its first test.

And if all goes well, NASA says Mars could be next.

Look back on the week that was with hand-picked articles from Australia and around the world. Sign up to the Forbes Australia newsletter here or become a member here.

More from Forbes Australia