Sintering End Effector for Regolith
Award last edited on: 1/23/2023

Sponsored Program
Awarding Agency
Total Award Amount
Award Phase
Solicitation Topic Code
Principal Investigator
Ryan Garvey

Company Information

Blueshift LLC

575 Burbank Street Unit G
Broomfield, CO 80020
   (303) 953-0297
Location: Single
Congr. District: 02
County: Broomfield

Phase I

Contract Number: 80NSSC21C0133
Start Date: 5/12/2021    Completed: 11/19/2021
Phase I year
Phase I Amount
NASA is requesting technologies for a sintering end-effector. Blueshift d/b/a Outward Technologies proposes to develop an end effector system for selective sintering of lunar regolith with sunlight that can interface with different types of solar concentrators. This Sintering End Effector for Regolith (SEER) will implement an innovative design that enables indefinite exposure to sintering temperatures and utilizes Outward’s patent pending concentrated solar thermal control technology for delivering and maintaining temperatures within 1% of the set point. Benefits of the proposed innovation include precise temperature control for consistent sintering, resistance to damage from high temperature exposure for prolonged use, 95% transmission efficiency across the spectrum of sunlight, up to 5x concentration enhancement, and a system that is lightweight and easily deployed. The Phase I effort will focus on the design, fabrication, and testing of the SEER system for sintering lunar regolith over long periods of time. Three key features will be developed and demonstrated: precision temperature control around the sintering temperature of regolith (1,100° C to within 1% of target), prolonged use at sintering temperatures (30 minutes non-stop in Phase I), and maximizing efficiency through testing various prototype design variables. Phase I will conclude with a demonstration of sintering a 2D shape into a bed on Lunar regolith simulant JSC-1A. Potential NASA Applications (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words): The primary application within NASA’s technology roadmap for the SEER technology is TA7.1.4 for regolith sintering as well as TA7.1.3 for efficient heat and energy transfer from a solar concentrator for various thermal applications. As a system developed for solar additive manufacturing and construction, the SEER can be incorporated into several future unmanned NASA missions to near earth asteroids, the lunar surface, Martian moons, Mars orbit, and the Martian surface. Potential Non-NASA Applications (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words): The SEER technology will be most useful anywhere that electrical infrastructure is not established and sufficient sunlight is available. The technology is ideal for enhancing Outward’s solar additive manufacturing system under development and would be attractive to underserved communities in the US, in developing countries around the world, and in the burgeoning commercial space industry. Duration: 6

Phase II

Contract Number: 80NSSC22CA055
Start Date: 4/27/2022    Completed: 4/26/2024
Phase II year
Phase II Amount
Outward Technologies proposes to continue development of a Sintering End Effector for Regolith (SEER) in Phase II. The SEER system enables efficient transmission (>82.2%) of Concentrated Solar Energy (CSE) for a wide range of high temperature processes including additive manufacturing, additive construction, and oxygen production on the Moon. SEER enables heating lunar regolith to maintain a focal point temperature between 1,000-1,100°C and sintering at translation speeds of between 1-10 mm/s. SEER may be interfaced with a primary solar concentrator through a fiber optic waveguide, or through a free space optical design for dramatically improved transmission efficiencies and reduced launch mass. The SEER design is scalable, efficient, durable, lightweight, and an ideal choice for regolith sintering and ISRU on the Moon. SEER enables continuous operation for high temperature thermochemical processes without causing damage to sensitive optics. The design is resistant to fouling from regolith dust, spallation, sputtering, and gases produced with high processing temperatures. The objectives of the proposed Phase II project are to advance the SEER TRL from 4 to 5 by documenting test performance in a simulated operational environment, establishing predicted performance for subsequent SEER development phases, and defining scaling requirements for SEER’s use in additive construction and manufacturing on the Moon with the ultimate goal of being scalable to 11.1 kW of delivered solar energy. Self-cleaning operations will be explored and predicted maintenance schedules will be established in Phase II. These proposed Phase II efforts mark a significant addition to NASA’s capabilities for lunar ISRU, hydrogen and carbothermal reduction, and the sintering of regolith to produce parts and structures on the Moon with regolith as the only feedstock. Potential NASA Applications (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words): SEER’s primary NASA application is the fabrication of 3D printed components using solar power and regolith as the only feedstock. SEER addresses 2020 taxonomy areas TX07.1.4 Resource Processing for Production of Manufacturing, Construction, and Energy Storage Feedstock Materials by utilizing sintered regolith as a fabrication material; and TX07.1.3 Resource Processing for Production of Mission Consumables for heating regolith with high thermodynamic efficiencies to produce oxygen through carbothermal reduction and related processes. Potential Non-NASA Applications (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words): SEER is used to provide controlled, high temperatures for powering thermochemical processes with concentrated solar energy. SEER may be used to replace fossil fuels in high temperature thermochemical processes for industrial decarbonization at locations on Earth with abundant sunlight. Duration: 24